What is a Costume Attendant?

A costume attendant plays a key role in the world of theater, film, television, and other performance arts. These professionals are responsible for the care, maintenance, and organization of costumes used in productions. They collaborate with costume designers to understand the vision for each character's wardrobe, ensure that costumes are properly fitted to performers, and make any necessary alterations for comfort and mobility during performances.

Costume attendants are integral during rehearsals and live productions, assisting performers with quick costume changes and repairs as needed. They meticulously organize and track each costume, ensuring that all pieces are accounted for and properly stored between performances. Additionally, costume attendants may be involved in the laundering and cleaning of costumes, as well as the periodic maintenance and repair of intricate and delicate wardrobe pieces.

What does a Costume Attendant do?

A costume attendant assisting a performer with a costume change.

Costume attendants contribute to the authenticity, functionality, and visual appeal of the costumes worn by performers. Their attention to detail and ability to work collaboratively with the creative team are essential to the smooth execution of live performances.

Duties and Responsibilities
Costume attendants take on a range of duties and responsibilities, such as:

  • Costume Preparation and Fittings: Collaborate with costume designers to understand the vision for each character's wardrobe. Assist in the preparation and fitting of costumes, ensuring that they align with the director's and designer's artistic vision. Make necessary alterations to costumes for proper fit and comfort, considering the movement requirements of performers during rehearsals and performances.
  • Organizing and Managing Wardrobe: Meticulously organize and maintain an inventory of costumes, accessories, and related items. Ensure that all costume pieces are labeled, cataloged, and easily accessible for quick changes during performances. Collaborate with costume designers and stage managers to track and account for all costumes throughout the production.
  • Assistance During Rehearsals and Performances: Assist performers with quick costume changes during rehearsals and live performances, ensuring smooth transitions between scenes. Be present backstage to address any wardrobe malfunctions, repairs, or last-minute adjustments that may arise during the course of a production. Work closely with actors to address any comfort or mobility issues related to their costumes.
  • Maintenance and Repairs: Conduct regular maintenance on costumes, including cleaning, pressing, and minor repairs. Address wear and tear on costumes, making necessary repairs to ensure the durability and longevity of wardrobe pieces. Collaborate with costume designers and seamstresses to execute more extensive repairs or alterations as needed.
  • Laundry and Care: Oversee the laundering and care of costumes, adhering to specific cleaning instructions for different fabrics and materials. Work with costume designers to implement appropriate cleaning and maintenance practices, especially for delicate or intricate costume pieces.
  • Communication and Collaboration: Maintain clear communication with costume designers, directors, and other production team members. Collaborate with makeup artists, hair stylists, and other crew members to ensure a cohesive visual presentation on stage or screen. Be responsive to feedback and adjustments, implementing changes to costumes as directed by the creative team.
  • Attention to Detail: Pay meticulous attention to the details of costumes, accessories, and makeup to achieve the desired visual impact. Anticipate and address potential wardrobe challenges, ensuring that costumes are both visually striking and functional for performers.
  • Storage and Organization: Properly store costumes between performances, taking care to protect them from damage and deterioration. Maintain organized storage areas for costumes, accessories, and related props.

Types of Costume Attendants
In the realm of performance arts, there are different types of costume attendants, each specializing in specific aspects of costume management and production. These roles may vary based on the size and complexity of the production, as well as the specific needs of the creative team. Here are some common types of costume attendants:

  • Costume Wardrobe Supervisor: Oversees the entire costume department and is responsible for coordinating all costume-related activities. This role involves managing costume budgets, supervising costume crews, and ensuring that the overall vision of the costume designer is realized.
  • Costume Milliner: Specializes in creating and maintaining hats and headpieces for performers. This role involves knowledge of hat-making techniques and materials.
  • Costume Coordinator: Assists the wardrobe supervisor in coordinating and organizing costume-related activities. This may include managing costume schedules, tracking inventory, and communicating with other departments.
  • Costume Dresser/Quick Change Artist: Works backstage during performances to assist performers with quick costume changes. This role requires speed, precision, and an intimate knowledge of the costume designs.
  • Costume Consultant for Film/TV: Provides expertise in costume design and execution for film and television productions. This role may involve collaborating with directors, producers, and costume designers to achieve the desired visual elements on screen.
  • Costume Designer: Both costume designers and costume attendants contribute to the overall success of a production. A costume designer focuses on the creative and conceptual aspects of costume creation, while a costume attendant is more involved in the practical execution and management of costumes during the production process.

Are you suited to be a costume attendant?

Costume attendants have distinct personalities. They tend to be conventional individuals, which means they’re conscientious and conservative. They are logical, efficient, orderly, and organized. Some of them are also artistic, meaning they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if costume attendant is one of your top career matches.

Take the free test now Learn more about the career test

What is the workplace of a Costume Attendant like?

The workplace of a costume attendant can vary depending on the type of production and the scale of the performing arts institution. In larger venues such as theaters on Broadway or major film studios, costume attendants often work in dedicated costume shops or studios within the theater or studio complex. These spaces are equipped with sewing machines, cutting tables, fitting rooms, and storage for fabrics and costumes. The environment is dynamic, with costume designers, stitchers, and other professionals collaborating to bring the vision of a production to life.

During rehearsals and performances, especially in live theater, costume attendants work backstage to facilitate quick costume changes. This backstage area is a fast-paced and organized space where costume dressers and attendants assist performers with changing costumes, ensuring that each actor is ready for their next scene. Backstage areas are equipped with well-organized racks of costumes, mirrors, and sometimes quick-change booths to manage the swift transitions required in live productions.

In addition to on-site work, costume attendants may also spend time in off-site locations, such as fabric stores, specialty shops, or costume rental facilities, to source materials or accessories required for a production. Costume attendants may need to travel with touring productions, contributing to the mobile and diverse nature of their workplace.

The work environment of a costume attendant is characterized by creativity, collaboration, and adaptability. Whether in a bustling costume shop or backstage during a performance, these professionals play a vital role in ensuring that costumes are not only visually stunning but also functional for the performers. The atmosphere is often energized, especially during the final stages of production when costumes come to life on stage or screen.

Costume Attendants are also known as:
Costume Technician Wardrobe Attendant