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Costume Designer

Career Highlights

  • Creates costume ideas
  • Study script(s) to match costumes
  • Costume attendants help performers & costume designers
  • Historian and artistic aspects

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Career Summary

Depending on the size of the production, a costume designer researches and design costumes and or they hunt throughout a variety of markets and thrift stores for costumes to be used in television shows, movie productions and stage performances.

fashion mannequin designOn large productions, the designer creates the costume ideas and assigns the practical work to a wardrobe supervisor and other members of the costume team. On a smaller scale budget, the team is much smaller and the designer may also carry out more of the practical tasks themselves. Not all costumes are built from scratch. Some of the costumes may be bought from retro boutique, antique shops, thrift stores or international culture markets.

Costume designers work may / often include:

  • Receives costume(s) overall look and feel from the director, producer and production designer.
  • Research costume styles, fabrics and designs to suit the production's time period or setting
  • Study script(s) to match costumes to each scene
  • Sketch costume designs
  • Work with a team of costume makers and tailors who turn their sketches into wearable garments.
  • Manage the costume/wardrobe budget
  • Buy ready-made outfits
  • Fit, alter and adapt costumes
  • Clean and mend the costumes
  • Make sure that all items are available when needed

Many costume designers get their start as a Costume Attendant. Costume attendants help performers and costume designers manage costumes and keep track of the costume changes for each performer during a television series, movie or stage production. Sometimes costume attendants are also responsible for items other than clothing, such as table skirts, draperies, flags, or other props or elements of the set that are made of fabric. A great way to earn experience while obtaining a Fashion degree is by working or volunteering in:

  • Student theater and film productions
  • Amateur theater costume assistance
  • Costume assistance for festival troupes.

Anther quality way to earn experience is to work as a costume shopper. Shoppers are employed by costume shops to shop for selections of fabric, trims, clothing, and accessories for a retail rental or resell store. Most times they will also make alterations for all the costumes.

Costume design careers involve being a bit of an historian, because costume designers spend many hours reviewing fashions of historical periods and characters to be portrayed. It can be a very fun career but it is a demanding one. A creative mind that enjoys research and history and one that can also be innovative is necessary for this career.




Requires a degree in:

  • Fashion Design
  • Costume Design

Career Skills

  • Sewing
  • Designing
  • Historical Research
  • Team Work
  • Visionary Abilities

Additional Information



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*Salary ranges based on location, experience, and demand. This number represents a rough nation-wide average.