Fashion Merchandising Careers – Costume Designer

Are you thinking about a career as a fashion stylist? Can you imagine yourself working in theater television or on movie sets? Why not consider a career as a costume designer? This article provides an overview of what costume design is and how you can start your career as a costume designer.
What is a costume designer?
A costume designer is the visionary that conceptualizes and designs the wardrobe that characters wear in theater productions on television and in movies. As a costume designer you will work as part of a team with directors, producers and other members of the costuming team. Costume designers convey the story of each character in a production through use of wardrobe, accessories and props.

What does a costume designer do?
Costume designers choose clothing that actors and actresses wear in theatrical productions, television shows and films. Costume designers also conduct research, design, re-design, sew, sketch, tailor, paint and construct costumes. As a costume designer you will also locate costumes, analyze scripts and stories, supervise fittings with cast members and be responsible for overseeing the execution of the director’s vision through the wardrobe.

Where do costume designers work?
Costume designers work on the sets of movie, television, theatrical and stage productions. Being a costume designer requires time spent in the field searching for appropriate wardrobe at prop houses, costume houses, thrift stores, fashion designer showrooms, department stores etc. As a costume designer you will also spend time in an office environment meeting with production staff and performing administrative duties.

How much do costume designers make?
Costume designers can make anywhere from $20,000 up to $150,000+ annually depending upon the number of projects, union status and genre i.e. television, film, theater and stage. Most entry-level costume designers work without pay until they gain experience.

What qualities and skills do I need to become a costume designer?
As a costume designer you will juggle many tasks, responsibilities, personalities and work long hours. To become a costume designer you must be self motivated, have great communication skills, and possess an ability to work well under pressure. Costume designers need to have a good understanding of the art and world history. As a costume designer, you must also be creative, have excellent technical skills, be organized, detail oriented and have leadership ability.

How do I become a costume designer?
It is recommended that any aspiring costume designer obtain a formal education in fashion design or costume design, even if you are a “natural”. There are many options for fashion and costume design education through online fashion design programs, community colleges, fashion schools and universities.
In addition to learning the technical and business aspects of costume design via fashion or costume design training, you must get practical, hands on work experience. The best way to acquire this experience is to intern or apprentice with local film and television companies, theater companies, local costume designers and student films.

Tips and Considerations
Educate yourself. Get to know everything you can about TV, film, theater and stage production as it relates to costuming. Also, stay abreast of industry trends, technology and information. Network. Get to know other aspiring or working costume designers, shop owners, directors, producers etc. You never know where your next job lead may come from.