How to Keep Looking Good

Actors have all had varying degrees of success with costumes. Amateur actors in community theatres have had the experience of wearing blacks and a simple mask.. or just blacks, or street clothes of their own on stage. Sometimes they will be fortunate enough to have a costume created especially for their character. Normally, it is a bit of revamping old clothing or refitting old costumes to suit the next show.

No matter if you are a professional or an amateur, costuming is a big job, usually falling primarily on one or two people to outfit an entire cast. There is always something that gets left not done in costumes, so it is vital to the production that actors understand and follow the guidelines of costume care. It's simple matter of being respectful of others and of the resources of the company.

10) No food or Drink in Costume

Clear water is fine, but other drinks, or food can leave stains.

9) The Laundry Policy


a) Find out who is responsible for keeping your costume clean.

b)If you are responsible for cleaning your own costume, then follow the cleaning labels. Clothes can be ruined in the wash.

8) Hang Costumes Up Properly

Use hangers, not hooks. Hang clothing like shirts or blouses and some light dresses with the top fasteners done up. This allows the garment to hang properly, decreases wrinkles, and prevents it from slipping to the floor. If you have a heavier dress, for example, like a Victorian style garment that is heavy, then do NOT hang it by the shoulders, because the weight of the skirt will pull the seams and fabric of the upper part of the garment. Fold the skirt portion over the bar of the hanger, under the top of the dress. Trousers can either be folded over a hanger bar, or mor properly, use trouser hangers to hang the trousers upside-down from the hems.

7) Attend All Fitting Calls

Early in the production, costumers want to meet the cast that they are dressing. This is the opportunity to find out if they are receptive to ideas about clothing your character. You will find that most costumers want to have something that works for your character and for you. If you do not attend fitting calls, you are unlikely to have a costume that fits properly, and very unlikely to have input into how you look.

6) Do Not Smoke in Costume

The smell of smoke remains in fabrics, it stains them, and the ash that falls from cigarettes causes burn holes in clothes.

5) Stay Away from Scents

Scents are absorbed by the costumes that you wear. It is better to leave them for after the show. Chanel No.5 does not smell as good when it is reheated by your body the next day, or the day after that. Sometimes, you will be asked to wear a cotton teeshirt underneath your costume. This is to absorb sweat so that the garment can stay cleaner, and last longer. It is far easier to wash a teeshirt than it is to wash a wool livery jacket.

4) Understand the Costumer's R.O.I (Return on Investment)

Like all people, costumers have a finite amount of resources, including their own time. Understand the relative impact of your role on the production as a whole. If you have attended your fittings and communicated well with the costumer, this section is not for you. There is a trend for actors cast in smaller parts to make larger requests of the costume department. Avoid this. Resonable requests from actors who have attended fittings are almost always met, but if you have missed fittings, then do not give suggestions and ideas for creating a grand costume for your character who is on stage for three minutes. Costumers have a heirarchy of importance, and leads are normally their first priority.

3) If it's To Small - Admit it!

Zippers and fasteners and seams were not meant to stretch out, not even a little bit. Stretch fabrics are designed to withstand stretch, and that is all. Otherwise, if the garment is too small, tell the costumer immediately. It should do up fairly easily. Rarely, you will come across a ostume (usualy a period piece) that requires a little bit of effort, and is meant to fit snugly.Wearing costumes that are too small will at best result in popped buttons and boken zippers. At worst, it results in seams and fabric tearing, and in costume malfunctions on stage and a ruined costume.

2) Button Battle

Learn how to manage small repairs yourself - but make sure that you do it carefully. Re-sewing buttons and fallen hems can be looked after by anyone with a needle and thread and some patience to learn how to sew a little bit. Find help online to learn how to make simple clothing repairs.

1) Wear Your Costume Properly

You may or may not have an idea of the overall asthetic (look) of the production that you are in. The creative team has designed a look that they are happy with, and the costumer has decided what wardrobe helps to define each character. That wardrobe is your uniform, and should be worn in the way that it was designed. Leaving a piece out, or adding something, or not buttoning up a shirt, popping a collar... those are things that should be cleared with the costumer before Dress Rehearsal. Remeber that if you have attended fittings, then there will likely be no issues about your costume.