What is a Costume Designer?

Are you interested in fashion design? Do you also have an interest in film, television, and theatre? You may want to consider becoming a costume designer!

Costume designers are responsible for creating the look and mood for actors and actresses by way of wardrobe and props. Their skill set is very similar to that of fashion designers, but with the added requirements for theatre, TV, or film.

What does a Costume Designer do?

Costume designers research, design, sew, and purchase costumes and props worn by actors. They make sure that the props and wardrobe reflect the story being told and portray each character's personality, culture, age, status, and relationship.

Many costumes may be required for each character as costumes define the attitude and feel which may change with every new scene, setting, or development.

A costume designer sketching out wardrobe designs.

Each costume design job begins with the designer carefully reading through the script. It is important that the costume designer has a good feel for the overall plot, the director's focus and intent, as well as the personalities, roles and relationships various characters have throughout the production.

Once the costume designer has a good feel for the direction of the production, he/she may research clothing, designs and materials indicative of the particular location or time period. Next, the costume designer will create a costume plot which follows characters through the progression of the production, changing their attire when appropriate. This plot can include sketches, photographs or computerized images that are presented to the director and production team.

Once approved, the costume designer begins the hunt for necessary costumes and props. In some situations, entire costumes may be purchased either new or from second-hand stores. Other costumes will be drawn and sewn either by a tailor in close coordination with the costume designer or by the costume designer himself. Other costumes will be a combination of these two options.

The costume designer is also responsible for supervising fittings and dress rehearsals. It is their responsibility to ensure that every costume is ready by the specified deadline.

Are you suited to be a costume designer?

Costume designers have distinct personalities. They tend to be artistic individuals, which means they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive. They are unstructured, original, nonconforming, and innovative. Some of them are also enterprising, meaning they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if costume designer is one of your top career matches.

Take the free test now Learn more about the career test

What is the workplace of a Costume Designer like?

Costume designers are employed in every city in the United States, Canada and internationally, though production hubs like Los Angeles, New York and Toronto employ a much higher number of designers. They work on film and television productions, stage productions, theatre, and even at festivals.

Whether a novice or experienced costume designer, schedules often involve overtime. From the moment the script is read until the show begins, the job is both hectic and demanding. Once the show begins, the pace slows down considerably unless problems occur with costumes during production.

Costume Designers are also known as:
Costumer Historical Costume Designer