What are the Different Costume Designer Jobs?

G. Melanson

For those with a love of garments and a flair for the theatrical, it’s not uncommon to be drawn to a career opportunity in costume designer jobs. Not just limited to live theater, costume designer jobs are also available in television, film, music and other areas of the arts and media.

Entry-level designers working in TV typically maintain and repair garments.
Entry-level designers working in TV typically maintain and repair garments.

In television, one of the highest levels of costume designer jobs entails actually designing the garments for the cast in addition to just selecting what each character will wear and with what accessories. Fashion designers such as Patricia Field of Sex and the City fame have achieved this level of accomplishment. Field has been recognized with Emmy, Satellite, and Costume Designers Guild awards for her work in designing and outfitting stars in both television and film. At the entry level, costume designer jobs in television entail such responsibilities as sourcing garments and accessories for on-screen characters as well as maintaining and repairing the garments if necessary. On small sets or sets with a limited budget, both the high level and low level responsibilities of costume designer jobs may fall under one person.

A costume designer designs clothing for the cast of television and film productions.
A costume designer designs clothing for the cast of television and film productions.

On film sets, it’s not uncommon for A-list actors to have their own stylists who work in tandem with the production company’s costume designers and wardrobe personnel. Costume designer jobs in film also involve sourcing items for the cast’s wardrobe as well as assisting extras and background performers with their outfits. Costume designer jobs for film at the entry level may also entail procuring and ensuring an adequate supply of wardrobe items such as safety pins, insoles, fabric tape, nylons, and other small accessories for last minute fixes and adjustments.

Costume designers may search for pieces of jewelry that can be added to designs.
Costume designers may search for pieces of jewelry that can be added to designs.

As live music productions have become increasingly elaborate over the years, musicians on tour typically require several costume designers and assistants for themselves and their backup performers. Depending on the type of show, an artist can sometimes change into a different costume for each song, which requires the help of dressers, who help the performer undress and change into the next outfit. Stylists also help with the overall vision for the show, and may work full-time with a performer or other celebrity to consult him or her on day-to-day wardrobe choices.

Costume designers may work as part of a stage play crew.
Costume designers may work as part of a stage play crew.

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