- Creative work designing the costumes for films, tv shows and other productions
- Requires excellent design skills, a good eye for detail, and the ability to work under pressure
- Option to specialise in either theatre or in film and TV, but you could work in both areas once you're established
As a costume designer you'll be in charge of designing, making and hiring costumes for everyone on a stage or screen production. You'll also manage other staff like costume makers, wardrobe supervisors and wardrobe assistants.
- Study the script
- Discuss ideas with the production designer, director, and make-up, set and lighting designers
- Create costume ideas to fit the production's design concept and budget
- Research suitable costume styles, fabrics and designs
- Sketch costume designs
- Give instructions to costume makers
On smaller productions, you might also carry out some of the practical tasks, like:
- Managing the wardrobe budget
- Buying or hiring outfits
- Fitting, altering and adapting costumes
- Cleaning, ironing and mending
- Making sure wardrobe items are available at the right time
- Keeping the look of the costumes the same between shoots or scenes
Freelance rates can vary widely, based on the type of production and your reputation. The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) has information on pay rates. Your hours could be long and may involve evening and weekend work to meet deadlines. You could work in a studio, theatre, from an office or from home.
This role would be ideal for someone with excellent design skills, a good eye for detail, and the ability to work under pressure.
You can do a higher national diploma, degree or postgraduate qualification in costume design, fashion, theatre design or performing arts (production).
Alternatively you could get practical garment production skills like pattern cutting, hand and machine sewing and dressmaking by completing a qualification in a level 2 Certificate in Fashion in subjects like pattern cutting or sewing machine skills or a level 3 Certificate in Theatre Support - Costume and Wardrobe. Qualifications like these could be useful for getting work as a costume assistant. You could then do more training on the job to move into design work.
Experience in the theatre, film or costume industry is highly valued by employers and volunteering is a great way to improve your skills. It's also a good way to meet people and build up your network of contacts. You could get relevant experience through student theatre and film productions, amateur theatre, working as a costume 'daily' or temporary helper on TV or film sets, casual wardrobe work in theatres and working for a theatrical costume hire company.
You could get into costume designing by working for a company who provides costumes for stage and screen. Some of the larger ones offer work experience and internship opportunities.
It would also be useful to join The Society of British Theatre Designers and The Costume Society, for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.
You'll specialise in either theatre or in film and TV, but you could work in both areas once you’re established. You'll also attend meetings with theatres or film and TV production companies.