A costume attendant is a professional who works in the costume department for films, theatrical productions, circuses, or other shows. There is no set path to become a costume attendant, although having certain valuable skills can ease the process of finding work in this field. Costume attendants often enjoy sewing, but also benefit greatly from a background in fashion or performing arts.
In order to become a costume attendant, certain skills are extremely important. Sewing skills are vital to this position; costume attendants are often responsible for maintaining costumes, making alterations, and even sewing entirely new costume pieces. Needle skills can easily be gained through a few basic classes, and can even be learned at home.
In addition to being able to sew, a person who wants to become a costume attendant will benefit from organizational skills. During performances, actors or entertainers may have to change clothes repeatedly, often in only a few minutes. A costume attendant is usually responsible for ensuring that each costume is ready and complete on time, and may even have to help the actor make a quick change into the next outfit. Additionally, costume attendants usually must collect and organize each discarded outfit, and may be in charge of laundering and making repairs to costumes after each show.
One way to become a costume attendant is to volunteer with local theater productions or community college theater programs. These groups are often looking for people with needle skills and a good eye for fitting to help in their costume department. Working as a volunteer can garner valuable experience into costuming, as well as help an ambitious person make contacts for later jobs. Since many costume attendants work freelance, forming good collegial relationships can be a great way to increase work opportunities.
After basic skills are mastered, a person trying to become a costume attendant can typically find work with professional theater, dance, or performance companies, TV or film production houses, or even universities. These jobs may be on a short-term basis, lasting as long as the production continues. For a theater production, this may be only a week or two. On a successful TV show, however, a costume attendant could find gainful employment for several years.
Some costume attendants go on to become designers, using their creative skills and sewing talents to invent fashion lines or film costumes. Those with managerial talents may advance to run costume rental houses. Whatever the future path may be, choosing to become a costume attendant can be a first step toward a permanent and rewarding career in the performance or fashion world.