MDT 280 - INTRO TO COSTUME & MAKEUP
COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING
This course will consist of both lecture and hands-on experience with theatrical costume &
makeup. There will be a final exam covering lecture material. No other tests or quizzes are
planned, but there will be some assignments related to the lectures which will be discussed in
class the following week and handed in. Any assignments involving design will be considered
for their content, not your artistic ability. No book is required, but you will be expected to
purchase a basic makeup kit. (Sources below)
(40% of grade - Class participation & assignments)
To increase your awareness of costume and makeup as a part of the full theatrical experience,
four short (1 - 2 pages) commentaries will be required. These should be critiques of the
costuming &/or makeup from any productions that you see: films, TV, amateur or
professional plays, dance, or clothing related exhibits. You will want to consider how the
clothing & makeup are used to express the personality or circumstances of the characters.
Does it seem effective and appropriate to you? Why or why not? Why do you think the
director and designer made certain choices? These commentaries may be turned in at any
time during the semester but must be all be in no later than the final day of class. (20% of
grade 5% each)
There will be one full term project. It is to be a makeup & costume reference file,
known as a morgue. It should consist of pictures of various facial and body types
and features, hairstyles, unusual makeup and may include costume elements. The content will
vary with your interests. Designers and many performers keep such
a file to turn to as a source of ideas, and it is hoped that this will be the beginning
of an ongoing resource for some of you. It may be formally organized in a notebook, a series of files, or
scanned. This is also due the last day of class, though it may be
turned in earlier.
(20% of grade - Morgue, 20% - Final Exam)
You may be expected to contribute some time to work on one or more of the productions
this semester, depending on the needs of the production, your time, and skills, although it
will not be a requirement. Most of this work time will fall into the few weeks immediately
preceding the production. Often wardrobe assistance is required during the run of a show,
either backstage or in caring for the costumes. Please keep track of the time that you spend
and turn it in on the final day of class. Extra credit for production work will be given, but
will not raise your grade more than one level.
Online sources for makeup kits: Ben Nye Theatrical Pro (preferred) or personal student kit
Source for The Twelve Pound Look:
SYLLABUS - INTRODUCTION TO COSTUME AND MAKEUP
The class will consist principally of lectures with some hands-on experience
in costume construction and the use of stage makeup. Students may assist in the
preparation of costumes for major productions of the semester. Any construction
work will vary depending on the needs of the shows and the proficiency level of
Lecture material will include:
1) The purpose and significance of costume; placing theatrical costume in a
social and historical context; elements of modern costume design.
2) Purpose and elements of basic stage makeup; analyzing facial structure;
Types of makeup in common use.
3) Procedures for designing costumes for a production and how to coordinate
a show that is pulled from existing clothing. Design requirements for different
types of productions.
4) Costume construction procedures and techniques.
5) Wardrobe and maintenance of costumes during the run of a show.
6) Organization of the professional costume shop.
7) Ways of altering the body through illusion or through the use of corsetry &/or padding.
8) The effect of costume on movement by the performer.
9) Costume & makeup history
COSTUME REFERENCE MATERIAL
The Costumer's Manifesto: http://www.costumes.org/ or http://thecostumersmanifesto.com
Period costume: http://www.marquise.de/
Anderson, Barbara and Cletus: Costume Design
Emery, Joy Spanabel: Stage Costume Techniques
Fernald, Mary and E. Shelton: Costume Design and Making: A Practical
Handbook Ingham, Rosemary, and Liz Covey: The Costume Designer's Handbook
Arnold, Janet: Patterns of Fashion (3 vol.)
Boucher, Francis: History of Costume
Davenport, Millia: The Book of Costume
Gorsline, Douglas: What People Wore: A Visual History of
Costume Kennett, Frances: Ethnic Dress
Peacock, John: Costume 1066 - 1966
Men's Costume: The Complete Sourcebook
Waugh, Norah: The Cut of Men's Clothes 1600 - 1900
The Cut of Women's Clothes 1600 - 1930
Corsets and Crinolines
Makeup and Hair
Corson, Richard: Stage Makeup
Fashions in Hair
Smith, C. Ray (editor): The Theatre Crafts Book of Makeup, Masks, and Wigs
Swinfield, Rosemarie : Stage Makeup Step by Step
Period Makeup for the Stage
Note: Most costume books in libraries are filed under 391
Introduction: Syllabus, requirements
1) Social significance of costume & makeup
2) Makeup history & character analysis
3) Makeup principles & techniques
4 & 5) Makeup Workshops
6) Wardrobe, Expectations of theatrical costume, elements of design.
7) Preparing for production, coordination, distressing
8) Shopping, Shop organization & equipment, rehearsal clothes, measurements
9) Actor relationships, body manipulation, patterns, construction basics
10) Construction workshop: mockup, machines, hems, fasteners
--- Shop cleanup
11) History Background
13) Media, Movement
Class 1 - Intro
Why do we wear clothes and use makeup?
Decorating the body is a basic human impulse.
Neolithic cave art - human representations show what may be ritual garments.
Shaman figure? (Cave art, rock paintings, N.A. bird mask)
Types of Body decoration: Permanent & Temporary
Directly on the skin: Tattooing, mehndi, painting, scarring, makeup (Africa,
S. America, S. Pacific)
Accessories: jewelry, masks, other forms of ornament
Sense of self distinguishes human species. Clothing & decoration are a means of
expression, used even in climates where clothing is not needed for protection, or
elaborated beyond the simply utilitarian. (Inuit, ca. 1500)
Quote: (1852) "...The importance of dress can scarcely be overrated. It is with
the world the outward sign of both character and condition… A vulgar girl wears
bright and glaring colors, fantastically made. Of course, a modest, well-bred
young lady choses the reverse of this."
Social Significance of Costume - Clothing & Decoration (other
than physical protection)
Ritual or Spiritual: scarring & tattooing as initiation, masks, vestments
Sexual: sign of marital status or availability, express attractiveness by current standards
(African men's corsets, Wodaabe)
Social identification: ethnic or peer group,(Gangs, Hasidim, Amish, hijab) Hamid Karzai’s tribal
Class & status, (Paula Jones makeover)
Business or pleasure
All affected by prevailing standards of time & place in which we live: the images of what
we feel we should look like TV, film, ads, music videos, personal role models.
Ideal body image changes through time. (Ex. 20's, 40's) and by place (African
Even affects what is considered natural. (Bro. Fernando's tirade, below)
20th/21st century communication & travel - end of stylistic isolation. In the past,
2 philosophical approaches to life reflected in attitude toward clothes. Western
We will deal primarily western theatrical tradition, hence western philosophical
one, where sense of fashion developed.
Fashion: relationship of clothing to the body, visually perceived,
Relates to Western concepts of individualism and progress. History
(time) is a linear progression - birth to death; religious: creation to fall,
redemption, end of time; scientific: big bang to ? Individual rights, self-
As society changes, so do clothes, which have become a personal
expression. This is a relatively recent phenomenon, from last 1000 years,
and will be covered in detail later on.
Spread of Western civ. had lessened the hold of the older philosophical system.
Found in most of the world outside W. Europe & offshoots, could be considered
the norm prior to last 1500/1000 years.
Cyclical vs. linear time (Asian calendar vs. millennium madness), may
incorporate reincarnation. One may be a poor peasant today because of sins in a
past life. Society as a whole is more important than the individual. Goes back to
earliest known civilizations Sumer, Egypt.
Society is hierarchical, ordered, presumed to be divinely ordained &
unchanging. How you dress reflects place in society, little mobility. Clothes
indicate class, occupation, region.
People know how to react to each other (how low do you bow in Japan). It's
present in the West, but it's more restricted & can change (servants tip hats,
confuse guests w/ waiters in formalwear, gangs hierarchies, military life). Outside
of these restricted groups, social climbing is common.
Styles evolve slowly, sometimes over centuries, often not changing in form but simply in
details - different trims or accessories, maybe hair or makeup styles.
Ingrained philosophical attitudes affect how we view clothes. In China:
(Dragon robes - Chinese court dress. Decoration conventional, symbolic.
Emperor: waves above hem= Sea, Out of them grows mountain= Earth, Over
which are clouds. Sky With Dragons =sons of heaven. Add auspicious symbols:
bats, cranes, flowers.
Lesser officials are similar in style, extending the emperor's influence.
Workers - dull colors, without decoration, variations based on climate.
Traditional hierarchy led to acceptance of Mao-imposed dress.
Imagine trying that in US, despite ubiquitous jeans & T- shirts in 60's
One manifestation of Western individualism: cut. For centuries, Western styles have needed a
body to show to best advantage. Mannequins in stores for display . Many non-Western styles
are abstract shapes, can be laid flat.
Kimono, sari – wall décor; Have in recent decades been incorporated into fashion, in part
through Japanese designers.
Timelessness vs. continual change: (sari, kimono/ Victorian photos)
Brother Fernando de Talavera, 1477, Spain
“There is another dress which is very ugly, for it make women appear very fat and as wide as tongues. It is
true by nature that women should be short, with slender or narrow shoulders, breasts, and back, and small
heads, and that their faces should be thin and small….and also that they should be wide and big around the
back & belly & hips so that they can have space for the children that they conceive and carry….
But although this is true, the aforesaid dress greatly exceeds and more than exceeds the natural proportions,
and instead of making women beautiful and well proportioned, makes them ugly, monstrous, and deformed
until they cease to look like women and look like bells…
Finally, such dress is very deceitful and very ugly. It is in truth great deceit in a woman who is slender,
hipless, and very thin, to give herself hips and a shape with cloth and wool; if carried out in moderation, it
might be overlooked, and at most would be a venial sin. But done in such a way, without moderation and with
exaggeration, it is undoubtedly a deception and a lie of great guilt, and consequently a great sin….
There is no doubt that deception and lies are a mortal sin when carried out in the above evil and sinful
manner; thus the padded hips and hoop skirts are very harmful and wicked garments; with reason they have
been forbidden under pain of excommunication.”
CLASS 2 - Makeup 1
>Use in ritual ancient & traditional societies
>Symbolic use in theatre Asia (Chinese opera pix.)
Masks - Noh, Commedia - Plot changes but character types
remain the same ; modern theatre too individual
> Makeup becomes part of Western theatre tradition in 17th c.
Women, indoor theatres.
> Convention of naturalism dates from 19th c. - expect a person to
appear to be in makeup only if he/she would be wearing it
*Men usually don't.
*Women's use varies by period, circumstances.
>Dental hygiene - artists depict closed mouths
Perfect teeth / Peter Brook
Ancient Egypt - earliest documented cosmetic use for beautification
Used by both sexes (book)
>Tools - palettes, mortars, storage containers, applicators,
tweezers, razors, combs, curlers
>Ingredients - kohl antimony sulfide or galena (lead ore) eyeliner
Malachite (green), iron oxide (reddish) >Pale
skin desirable white lead
>Veins accented with blue
Near east similar, into Greece & Rome
Bleaching or dyeing hair, wigs from Northern European hair
Dark ages - cosmetics continue in Byzantium, East. West focused on
High Middle Ages - pale complexions, (continues until 1920's),
Rouge - quality varies by class, plucked hairlines.
Renaissance - white lead, skin damage, vicious circle
Extreme mask-like looks ("peeling wall", Eliz. I))
Pigments used by artists also used for makeup.
17th - 18th c. - beauty patches
L. cheek – engaged, R – married, Near lip – available, Whig – L, Tory – R
Wigs - style set by courts Eliz. I, Louis XIII as they aged,
Louis XIV, Chas. II used full bottomed wigs as image of power
initially natural colors, by 1700 powdered gray, white, or tinted.
Flour. Powder rooms.
*High pompadours for women own hair plus pieces.
Cosmetics continue garish - Marie Antoinette credited with greater
naturalness. (but still used gold leaf in lip pomade)
English style - rising in power & influence, more natural
Colonial America - rural, religious strictures
*NJ Law, 1630’s:
“All women, of whatever age, rank, profession, or degree, whether virgins,
maids, or widows who impose upon, seduce, or betray into matrimony any
of His Majesty’s subjects by virtue of scents, cosmetics, washes, paints, artificial teeth,
false hair, or high heeled shoes, shall incur the penalty of law in force against witchcraft”
“English” style, American & French revolutions spur natural look
Men's cosmetic use never recovers. Van Buren uses "Corinthian
Oil of Cream", "Concentrated Persian Essence", loses.
19th C. - Overt cosmetic use becomes disreputable to many Victorians in US & UK
Continues on continent & among actors (considered disreputable)
*Acceptable ploys: bite lips, pinch cheeks, damp red silk
Mass manufacture, some safety improvements.
Leichner's Theatrical Makeup (greasepaint) introduced
Also use: burnt cork, powders, cornstarch, putty
20th. Century: social acceptance of street makeup, fueled by movies,
feminism, technology (From FDA to hairspray)
Early films required high contrast, heavy lining colors.
Makeup keeps pace with film developments
Helena Rubenstein, Russian emigrés
Max Factor - sold Hollywood products commercially
>pancake - flexible, matte, developed & popularized for Technicolor film
20's – brash, bee-stung lips, heavy eye color, mascara, nail polish
Jos. Baker popularizes natural look for black performers.
(Beige powder, kohl eyeliner, dark lipstick. 64 kilos of powder on tour.)
30's - deco-style sculpted look, pencil thin eyebrows, "naturalness"
40's – wartime, simple, full red lips. Painted on hose.
50's - very feminine, pale, red lips, more eye color, - match to
outfit, not skin, heavier brows
60's - pale lipstick, lots of mascara
70's – on: naturalness vs. extreme, wider variety, ethnic acceptance
increased emphasis on safety, non-harmful testing
Also true for theatrical use: silicone, plastics
In past, actors did their own makeup. Most theatre performers still do.
Oscar for makeup only in 80's.
Purpose of theatrical makeup:
1) Project the features (theatrical)
2) Correct & Beautify
Contouring useful even on regular faces, esp. under studio lights.
3) Indicate character
Includes period looks, hairstyle, facial hair for men
Heredity: characteristics with which one is born, including hair,
eye, & skin color, bone structure, shape of features
>Begin with actor, then adapt to suit needs of character
> Specifics: Life w/ Father, South Pacific vs. open casting
Environment: affects skin texture, etc. (old sun worshipers)
> Climatic conditions: temperate or extreme
Vaseline in Alaska, winter tan
>Living & Working conditions - sedentary vs. active, indoor
vs. outdoor, effects of manual labor. (coal miner)
> Twins in office, outdoor jobs
> Hands: soft vs. work-worn
> Nails: Long is sign of aristocracy (China)
Personal background: largely actor, but must be considered
>childhood illness or malnutrition
Temperament: Personality of the character
> Concern for style, neat or sloppy
> Can't assume that actor's style will suit character
(Hot L Baltimore ultra-feminine actress plays butch)
Social Pressures: including fashion
> Fashion leader or follower, indifferent, challenger
> Period standards: makeup in 19th c. vs. 20th.
Age: real & apparent (RIII, Afghan girl)
Health: assume normal unless specified, include psychological
>Try to avoid exact symptoms unless you're sure
(Battle of Angels dying husband, nursing student) *
>Weight: make sure padding is consistent, face / body *
>Wounds, disfigurements, bruises, use of blood.
> Often handled by a specialist
> 3-D Latex, putty, dermawax, kleenex, tissues, tubing
> Still involves creative painting
Physiognomy Relating physical appearance to character traits
>Mostly done unconsciously, can be useful
Thin lips, furrowed brow : uptight? avaricious? under strain?
>May lead to stereotyping. (RIII)
Witch: hunchback = osteoporosis, knobby hand = arthritis
sunken lips = tooth decay, hooked nose = cartilage
skin blotches = warts, skin tags, hairy chin, sparse hair
CLASS 3 – Makeup 2
Makeup involves skills of painter & sculptor
Sources: (Morgue) photos, realistic painted portraits, (Renaissance, Wyeth)
3-D effect in 2-D
*Identify light source
*Study how the artist achieves wrinkles, soft curves, etc. by
manipulating light & shade
Relationship of makeup / lighting:
Historical: candles, gaslights, footlights use of color
Film: hung from above, usually white light flattens, need for
contouring. (Eliz. I portraiture)
Early B&W octochromatic film reds appear black,
wrinkles intensified. Needed heavy, high-contrast makeup.
Makeup artists needed when films shot out of sequence. Stage light
more varied sources & colors.
>Makeup must be checked under light.
Basis for makeup: Highlight & shadow over skin as molded by bone,
cartilage, & muscle.
>Youth: soft curves, color in skin (if healthy)
>Middle age: beginning of sagging greater angularity or pouchiness (depending on
weight) Chin, Cheeks, Eyes Hair color may change; very individual
Both usually involve light acting on flesh. In age, bone structure becomes more
evident as gravity takes its course.
>Age: General - less oil in skin, fat under skin, changed muscle tone
Wrinkling - pattern present at birth, wrinkle skin to find
Color changes - sallow complexion, liver spots, red cheeks or nose
Eyes - lids, bags, crow’s feet, scraggly brows
Nose - tip sags, lines to mouth
Mouth - thinner, tooth loss, lines to chin
Cheekbones - may be more prominent
Chin jowls, double chins
Neck - muscles more prominent, wrinkling
Forehead - wrinkles, sunken temples, hairline
Hair - loss, color, texture, facial growth (nose hair trimmer)
Hands - prominent veins & joints, texture, age spots.
Planning the makeup:
>Consider the whole face; if you alter one part, balance (Cyrano) Easiest
to alter - eyes, nose, mouth, & hair.
Adding is easy, (prosthetics or paint) taking away isn't. (Surgery?) CGI
Illusion breaks if angle changes. (Jay Leno's chin)
>Sketch - tracing paper over head shot of actor, schematic face
>Where is light source? (Lincoln Memorial lighting)
>Creating angles and curves - sharp or gradual transition between
highlight & shadow for curves, wrinkles
>Tools - brushes, swabs, fingers, sponges (natural & synthetic)
Stippling sponge - creates texture
remover & tissues
spirit gum & remover or latex nose
putty, derma wax
powder for setting
1) Foundation : cremestick*, pancake, greasepaint, liquid
>Go easy! but be even. Neck in natural shadow.
>Most needed by light skinned performers; color washes out.
May need tone darker than actual skin.
Pale skin reflects light, dark skin absorbs it.
>Used to even out base tones, neutralize undertones.
In Caucasians - may be greenish or yellow
Dark skin - wider range - plum, olive, reddish, brown
>Undertones help determine accent colors - how to find.
Used unconsciously in clothing selection.
>Test base on back of hand
>Powder to set
2) Highlights & shadows (to contour) cremes, powders, pencils
Start slow, it is easier to tone highlight than bring up shadow
In youth, just adding a few highlights may provide sufficient contrast. Colors:
Highlights: white or beige for pale skin, yellow or tan for dark Shadows:
Pale skins - tans, brown, gray
Dark skin - may be brown, purple, dark green Liners
- Pale: white/cream, brown/ gray NOT black
Dark: yellows/ black, green, blue
3) Add cosmetic effects: eye shadow and lip color, mascara, eyelashes
Rouges - work with skin tones, is look natural or artificial?
Facial hair attachments
Facial Anatomy: (handout)
>Forehead - upper/lower (brow ridges). Depression between not
always evident, temples, wrinkles
>Eyes - where to highlight, shadow. Make closer or farther apart
>Nose - bottom in natural shadow. Easily altered with putty.
Painted effects - lengthen, shorten, narrow, widen, crooked
>Cheeks - nasolabial fold, apple
>Mouth & Chin - Lower lip in highlight, below in natural shadow
For young actor playing old, use costume to cover.
*Classes 4 & 5 are Makeup workshops
CLASS 6 – Wardrobe, Costume Intro, Expectations, Elements
Wardrobe & Maintenance.
Purpose: to maintain the costumes in the best possible condition and assist
performer during production.
Staff: Wardrobe master or mistress, assistants, personal dressers
Preparation: organize, make notes & lists - who wears what, when.
Where do changes take place? How fast? What are cues?
You may need a personal copy & one for actor. (Notebook/ PDA you
can carry around.)
Get all costumes & accessories together, in order, before 1st dress
(unless it’s sprung on you) Rack tags, bags, boxes.
Backstage emergencies: Kit, apron or smock
Safety pins, needle & thread, scissors, spot remover, sponge,
Iron &/or steamer, starch
Depending on show - shoe polish, nail polish, extra studs, buttons
Actor requests - throat spray or lozenges
Access to a machine & laundry facilities
Running the show: arrive early enough for setup; before 1/2 hour.
Check that everything is present and in good repair. (Day work)
Take cue from actor - quiet or gregarious.
Keep track of any problems - *written*
Remain available & alert at all times.
After show: collect laundry, (next to body) Make sure it's all hung & neat.
Don't count on actors. Professionals limited by contracts.
Quick changes: set up with stage manager & crew. Practice with actor during dress
rehearsals. Extra if needed. Some actors panic. It gets faster & smoother with time.
Replacement of costumes: long runs, new cast members. This may be left to
the wardrobe staff.
Union: perks (steadiness, tips, relationships), disadvantages (servant, uncreative)
What is a costume? ultimately, anything worn by a person.
Changes based on location, time of day, climate...
Theatrical costume: anything worn in a theatrical context
All societies w/ performance traditions have some form of costume. Even
ordinary clothes become special because they are selected as appropriate for
Modern concept of costume dates from Renaissance; that the unified visual
image represents a unified idea. Slowly evolved concept that sets & costumes
should suit each other and the director's concept. Began in court entertainments,
finally filtered into literary drama.
>Disguise & Spectacle: (Mardi Gras, Halloween, Olympic ceremonies, showgirls)
>Ritual: Western theatrical tradition developed from religious rites
Masks - used worldwide, comedy/tragedy symbol of theatre
>Dramatic: traditional/ “modern”
Stock characters develop in drama: particular attributes = character
Medieval religious pageants
No sense of historical accuracy "old" = historic
Actors pull from company wardrobes, stars bring their own.
Use of castoffs from nobility created its own sense of reality since you could go to the
theatre & see recognizable garments.
Court Masques - 15/1600's Private entertainments that developed into opera & ballet.
especially under Louis XIV. Costume develops a distinct identity apart from fancy
dress. Still heavy on symbols & surface decoration on a few basic shapes, but is
now specifically designed for the stage.
Modern aesthetic demand more: unity of concept, truth to the character, the script, &
the period. This was only fully realized in 20th century, though it began in the 19 th,
especially with actor/manager Charles Kemble.
Expectations for Costume in modern theatrical tradition
(Film, Theatre, Opera, Dance)
1) Fit the concept developed by the director.
Realistic? Abstract? Stylized?
2) Match Time & Place - if realistic, must be consistent. Anachronisms show.
Include season, indoor/outdoor, economic circumstances
3) Character - may reveal or conceal (Tartuffe, Malvolio hide true personalities
under Puritanical facade)
Express: flamboyance, timidity, repression, conformism…
Stereotypes: traditions relating to some character types. Goes back to
symbolic attributes & stock characters. Leads, vamps, villains, ingenues, etc..)
4) Must fit and move appropriately
Costumes, esp. period, will affect actor's movement. May restrict it. May be
OK for stage or film, not for dance. Actor must adjust from familiar clothes.
Work w/ performers in fittings & choreographer if appropriate.
Fabrics must also be right. Can't do Elizabethan with jersey or 30's with stiff brocade
5) In addition, in live theatre, must be appropriate to the staging (size of
house, audience proximity)
6) Must be able to be built and durable enough to hold up to length of run. It
helps if the designer has a knowledge of construction techniques and what’s
Elements of Design
Every production is a balance of these basic artistic elements, which must be considered
for each individual costume and the overall production or scene:
Do elements change or remain the same throughout? (Deliberate contradiction.)
Can be used to draw attention to a specific character or part of the body or to
express character or identify groups. (Montagues/Capulets, Sharks/Jets)
1) Shape: Line & Mass are its 2 & 3 dimensional expressions
Line generally refers to silhouette. Clean/cluttered (1915 vs. 1935)
2) Color: Psychology of color. �A,�
Bright/muted. Warm/cool. Solid/pattern. Wide or limited palette?
Can be used to create groupings or express character
3) Texture: determined by the weave or construction of the fabric and
the reflection or absorption of light. Shiny/dull. Rough/smooth.
Of performer - free or restricted?
Of the fabric - heavy folds/ fluttery chiffons
Fabric movement is incorporated into some dances as an independent element.
5) Ornament: trimmings and accessories
CLASS 7 - Design Prep, Coordinating
Preparing for Production - the Costume Designer
Cooperative art, as any program or set of screen credits will show
1) Read Script, Libretto, Attend dance rehearsal
2) Notes - highlighter, notebook, organize chart (needed for large cast, many changes)
>Include what is given in script directly by the writer, through what
characters say and do in regard to themselves and each other.
Time- historical, modern (how modern? Was it contemporary when written years ago?
To update or not? Is it futuristic, no set time or a fantasy time ?
>How much time elapses? ('Night, Mother vs. Shakespeare histories?)
Between scenes? (Streetcar baby pad)
>Time of day? (GWTW p.m. dress in a.m.)
Place - real or imaginary? (Plan to consult director, set designer)
interior or exterior? season? If actor enters from outside, are
hats &/or coats needed?
Unities - classical dramatic concept: Time/Place/Action, no mixed styles
Description of characters - Physical & Psychological
>Notes similar to actors but focus on clothing/ makeup
>Stage directions, dialogue - is it necessary to plot?
How much weight should be given to author's words?
Notes in acting editions of scripts - useful but not immutable.
>Include: ages, sexes (if pertinent), professions or activities.
Period is sometimes easier because of fewer specific
instructions and audience lacks familiarity with details.
Asterisk any physical anomalies of character or actor
RIII - McKellan vs. Quasimodo-style
Willy Loman: Lee J. Cobb, Dustin Hoffman, Brian Dennehy
Is it necessary or tradition?
Personal Impressions - Strong or not? Could be in terms of particular color
or line, or how you envision someone. Do you have questions for the
director or other designers.?
May include preliminary sketches.
Remember initial ideas are always ubject to change
3) Production Meetings – needed for unified look
>Brainstorming w/ production staff, cast - essential for new work.
1)Individually, with Director - you must interpret his/her concept; may
help shape it
>Go through character by character. Consider contributions from actors.
>Prepare to compromise
>Cuts or changes, existence of tradition (Dolly, My Fair Lady)
>Discrepancies in script (Crucible August chill)
>Potential problems - enough time for changes?
2)Full prod. Meeting - not the best place detailed costume conference
>Coordinate color, styles. (Sets, lights, sound, choreography)
> Anticipate physical needs (Are doors & furniture wide enough for
hoopskirts? is a changing area needed backstage? Do hats or wigs
cause mike problems?)
Try to avoid personality clashes, sabotage.
4) Research - needed for every production
>Modern dress: magazines, news, TV, personal observation, actor input
(the more contemporary the show, the stronger will be their personal
opinions, which may be help or hindrance if actor can't separate personal
feelings from those of the character)
>Fantasy or stylized: study other disciplines (architecture, nature)
Murder in the Cathedral - stained glass ,Cats
>Period: Books & magazines, internet, picture collections
(Personal morgues, NY & Newark libraries), art, photographs
Pitfalls: Not everyone wears the latest styles. Factor in personal
taste, skills, bodies, budgets. It is up to the designer to balance.
The farther back you go the more problematic it gets.
> Art (Statuary, painting)
- Static, unlike people (Walk like an Egyptian?)
- Idealized bodies, changing erotic focus. Greeks in shoulder pads?
Pregnant medieval ladies?
- Artistic license
- Unequal social representation
- Artists may depict their own time, rather than actual period
>Photographs - people tend to wear their best for formal pix
Does show how real people look: wrinkles, etc.
> Fashion plates - since 18th c. - exaggerated body types
- Proportions: head to body 1:7 in life, 1:9 fashion illustration
Stylists manipulate photos - tape, weights, model choice, then tweak w/ Photoshop
>Actual garments - see costume history
Some eclectic shows appropriate anything from anywhere,
5) Reality check: "We don't have $, but you can be really creative."- Management
>Budget - buy/rent/build/beg/borrow/steal: balance resources
(Brilliant Traces - $3.79 vs. $200/yd. - distressed)
>Assistance - number & skill
>Time - (mostly shop manager) planning overall, prioritizing, taking breaks,
avoiding overload & mutinies
>Facilities - space, machines (working) laundry & dyeing,
mannequins, head blocks, storage
Beware of over-designing. Better simple & complete than ½ done with an
Know where to cut corners. If for stage, avoid the invisible detail.
(Maybe use of pieces – Streets of NY: 19th c. family's fall into poverty
w/ hoop removal, raggy shawls, different bonnets.)
6) Design it!
Preliminary sketches; Formal renderings
Complete notes for pulled shows.
7) Approval - recheck with director
Coordinating a Production: Pulling it together from existing resources: rental, purchase
Preparation is similar – analyze character, etc.
Flexibility: What is essential? May require some construction which could be planned
from the start or determined by what is available as the show comes together.
Menswear often pulled because of the amount of work in tailoring, and the expense.
Develop Lists: by actor, by items include sizes & as much detail as possible.
*Men's sizes based on body measurement; women's are more arbitrary.
Be sure to have men's measurements as well as sizes for thrift shopping.
Modern dress shows: consulting the actor. Insights may be useful,
personal prejudices may hinder.
Help him/her adapt to styles that aren't familiar. (An actor who is used to sweats
may be uncomfortable as an uptight character in a suit.)
Actors may be taken on shopping expedition; reconnoiter first to optimize time.
How to develop unity in a pulled show:
18th/I9th c. actors, early movies - actors would just go pull something
>Use design lements: color, ornament , etc.
>Accessories - mourning band if no black suit available
What can you do to costumes? if bought, anything. If rented, you are limited by
your contract. No cutting, dyeing, permanent changes.
Unit rentals - common in opera. There may be problems when performers don’t fit what is
provided. If it's necessary to build additional pieces, keep to original style.
Keep details under control; little problems can distract from the whole.
Wear: will used clothes look new? Stage lights may help, or not
Will new look used, if necessary? Wear patterns (jeans)
Hypothetical case: identical outfits to swamp, desert.
Distressing: making new clothing, etc. look used, old, worn, dirty.
Techniques: bleach washings, dye, spray paint, sandpaper or grater, cutting, tearing.
Glue, sawdust, paint it for mud….
Proceed slowly. Results may be unpredictable (Blue skirt bleaches purple)
Test swatches if available.
Check results under lights or on location; lights can change everything.
Remember patterns of wear: collars, cuffs, hems. Knees & elbows
Stains - sweat, food. Work related wear. Wallet pocket
Distressing can be fun - you can get out your frustrations - or painful, if you’re trashing
something you worked hard on.
CLASS 8 – Shopping, Measurements, Rehearsal Clothes
By character & costume - each giving yardage, notions, etc.
By category - fabric, trim, fasteners, jewelry, millinery, accessories
Fabric - widths, adjust yardage.
Estimating - getting enough without overbuying, $ considerations
Small sketches - easier to carry, puts everything together
Swatching - scissors, pins, stapling to cards. Especially important if using a shopper:
(Someone who does legwork for a designer.)
Modern dress or coordinated show - lists include specific items, sizes
Hitting the stores - garment district, fur, millinery, etc. in NY
Preliminary run, purchase run. (Same day or not)
Thrift shopping, internet, eBay,
When each trip is finished, get everything organized, redo lists
>Those connected to specific institutions: regionals, academic,
community theatres. Generally have core staff for a season.
>Professional shops found in theatre & film centers. Contracted
for individual productions. Hire staff according to need.
(Staff compatibility important for long hours, intense work)
Basic personnel: flexible according to the situation; some jobs are doubled or
filled by the designer, esp. in small or summer theatres
Shop Manager: responsible for organization, assignment of jobs, time
management. Organize fittings. Liaison between the designer, staff,
stage manager, actors.
Cutters/drapers: (various specialties) Responsible for executing the designer’s vision.
In the absence of specific instructions, determines details like width of collar
or pleat, how something fastens, what kind of hem, etc. *Must have an artistic sense.
Makes patterns, cuts & marks fabric, does fittings
Oversee construction (if not doing it themselves.)
Stitchers: do actual sewing by machine and hand.
Finishers: handwork like hems, fasteners
Apprentices - may be student actors, etc. (summer & regional theatres)
Aspiring professionals. Networking & personal references count.
Skills vary, often do finishing work. May be used for wardrobe.
Specialists - millinery, shoes, jewelry, beading, embroidery, knitting, armor
construction, costume prosthetics or rigging (work with makeup, staff)
Facilities: may be anywhere. (attic, basement, firehouse...)
Ideally have adequate light, natural if possible (prevents cabin fever),
space, running water, ventilation (may be necessary for health)
>Cutting tables: may be cork (for pinning ease) or paper covered
Commercial tables include shelving
>Mannequins: both sexes, can be padded for size
>Sewing machines: industrial or home, metal is best. Computerized or mechanical
Specialty machines: surgers, hemmers, elastic
>Storage: Racks, shelves, containers
>Ironing: standard or commercial iron, board or table, steamer,
sleeve board, ham, velvet board
>Washing facilities: washer, dryer, sink, dye pot. (Hot plate)
>Bulletin board or open wall space.
>Cleaning supplies: Broom, trashcan, etc, magnet
>Needles - hand & machine sizes, ball point, specialty (leather, beading)
>Pins - straight, safety. (May be used in fittings to hold better)
>Shears - regular, pinking, snips. Don't use fabric shears on paper.
>Seam rippers - some shops prefer small scissors to avoid slips
>Measures - tapes, yardsticks, clear plastic, specialized curves
>Marking - tracing paper & wheel, chalk, pencils, pens, pattern
paper, laundry markers, twill tape or labels, rack dividers
>Fasteners - hooks & eyes, bars, flat hooks, snaps, Velcro,
buttons & zips usually bought as needed
>Thread - basic colors, others as needed, interior stitching need not match.
Extra strong thread for buttons, gathering, crafts
>Muslin - for mockups (sample pattern used for fitting)
>Interfacing - weights, woven/non-woven, fusible
>Craft supplies - glue gun, needle nosed pliers (jewelry findings, wire, glue,
shoe spray, masking tape)
>Millinery supplies - buckram, covered wire
>Laundry & cleaning - spot remover, rags, bleach, detergent
Costume Props: purses, hats, coats
Things to get used to: long skirts, corsets, sword belts
Stage manager or director usually provides list, some actors bring their own.
Vary by needs of show, no universal system.
Confirm w/ cutter or person who took them. (Rental requirements)
Based on body’s bones & musculature, may use waist string as baseline.
Use tact, take actor concerns into consideration; but be accurate
HEIGHT____________ WEIGHT____________ HAIR____________
NECK to WAIST (Front)____________ (Back) ____________
ACROSS FRONT _________________ BACK____________
SHOULDER to SHOULDER ________________
ARM (Sleeve length) ________________ (Underarm seam) _________________
SHOULDER to ELBOW______________ (To WRIST)_____________________
BICEP___________ ELBOW ___________ WRIST ___________ HAND
WAIST to KNEE ________ To ANKLE________ To FLOOR (Front)_______
SHOE SIZE ____________ HAT or HEAD ____________ DRESS
SUIT or JACKET _____________ SHIRT ____________ PANTS ____________
CLASS 9 - Actors, Body Flaws, Construction Basics
Working with actors: costumers have closest relationship of any tech staff
Be a psychologist: Possible fragile egos. Most quirks are based on reason or prior experience.
Secure actors easy to work with.
Possible Problems: Actors who want to get their 2¢ into everything
>Unreliable or irresponsible; substance abuse
>Inflated ego/ star complex: most common in amateurs
>Control freaks; dressing a star.
Be tactful, not adversarial. Will director back you? Compromise?
Interpersonal relationships within a cast or between cast & director
or staff - sometimes it's an impossible situation (casting the mistress)
Using personal clothing is common in low budget productions.
Actors may have concerns about damage, or not feeling the part.
Actors' feelings about bodies: their instrument.
Want to look good, tend to magnify perceived flaws, personal prejudices.
Actors may offer information: "no back", irregularities, overdeveloped muscles.
Period styles may help, e.g. full skirts conceal large hips
Working around body flaws (real or perceived)
Script requirements vs. actors
Unflattering need: Always wear green - how? Mary Sunshine yellow
Bodies are inherently irregular. (Face - cover each side)
How to compensate? Change the design, the body, or both
Changing the design: manipulate elements (*shape, *color, texture,
Draw the eye away from negative feature, toward positive.
(Renaissance male in doublet/ thighs, Lady Anne/ height)
Discussion: Sebastian/Viola: minimizing sex differences
Changing the body: padding, corsetry (surgery, CGI)
Padding: for fat (Falstaff, Ruthless People, Shallow Hal)
Keep whole body in mind; beware thin face, arms w/ fat midriff
Pregnancy: how far along, how much time elapses?
Building Padding: style (spare tire, beer gut, thighs, arms etc?)
Base: t-shirt or bodysuit, layers, foam or fiberfill; film: latex.
Corsetry: for period look, or to alter body (Hippolyta - no butt)
Commercial body shapers, Spanx: flatten tummy, pad bust
Period look varies from 16th - 20th c.
Patterns: Flat pieces of paper or cloth which delineate cutting & sewing
lines, instructions - not needed for some traditional garments.
Sources: Commercial patterns - may be adapted
>Books for period; usually have some form of sizing indicated.
>Actual garments: see how construction really took place,
imperfections, alterations, & all (red bodice)
>Making your own:
*Flat: work from measurements, plot it on paper
*Drape on dummy or actor. Some styles have to be draped
Disadvantage: can't reproduce corsetry on mannequin
Mockup: a copy of the garment made of expendable fabric, used to make
adjustments before cutting into expensive fabric; use knit or
woven as needed. It may become a lining.
Unbleached muslin most commonly used for woven fabrics.
Mark the seams, using tracing paper & wheel, wax or pencils.
Cut with generous seam allowances.
Baste together, using large stitches, by hand or machine, that can be easily
removed. Often done in a contrasting color.
If style is not bilaterally symmetrical, baste with seams on the outside.
Usually in symmetrical styles, you can even out sides unless the
person has evident irregularities.
Fittings: Arranged through stage manager - Equity or SAG rules
May need 2 to 4; 1) Preliminary fittings with mockup or first cut,
2+) adjustments & accessories, 3)final fit
Try to be efficient with performer's time.
It can be difficult for a performer to visualize the finished costume
when it’s only partially complete; provide reassurances.
Underwear or lack thereof - request or provide specialty items,
shoes of the right height
Needs: pins, scissors, tape measure/ yardstick, marking equipment
chalk or wax, pencils, markers, paper for notes
Often done inside out, to make seam lines accessible
Putting it together:
Dyeing - fabric or garment
*Grain - straight, bias
*Nap - texturing that reflects light differently from various angles (sample)
*Plaids, stripes, large patterns - matching. It may be necessary to cut each side
separately rather than from folded piece.
>Using mockup or pattern, mark seamlines, cut generously
5/8" seam standard on commercial patterns, leave more.
>Finishing edges if necessary to avoid raveling (zigzag or surge) or to
secure flat lining layers together
>Pin seamlines, then stitch (baste first), fitting.
Thread need not match unless it will show (Topstitching)
> Press seams - usually open. Steam iron unless fabric won't allow.
Finger pressing. Antique specialty tools.
>Under-construction: linings, boning, interfacing (samples)
>Keep notes as needed, esp. in shops where several people work on each item.
>Finishing work: fasteners & hems must be secure.
>Keep deadlines in mind, prioritize, & revise as necessary.
Dress rehearsal: try to be ready; expect changes & alterations
CLASS 10 – Construction Workshop
Sloper: basic bodice (from "pair of bodies")
How to vary cut: princess line, contour seaming
Controlling fullness: darts, gathers, tucks, pleats (box, knife, cartridge), gussets
Detailing: gores, godets, ruffles, drapes
Threading the machine, basic use
Finishing: Hems, buttons, hooks, snaps
CLASS 11 - History1
History: even when not working directly in period, can provide inspiration
"Victorian or puritanical attitude"
What is fashion? A continuously changing relationship between clothes and
Not all societies have developed the concept of fashion. (Class 1)
Static was normal; changed by worldwide communication, colonialism
As society changes, so do clothes when used for personal expression.
Theory: Western social mobility expressed through conspicuous:
>Consumption – extravagance, sex distinctions, decorative women
>Leisure – Specialized clothing (times of day, sports: cycling, tennis)
>Outrage – Punks, Goths, body art
In modern world, it is driven largely by economics. Market needs change.
19th c. – Mass production, new shopping venues for rising middle class
Paris shopping arcade w/ tea shops & writing rooms – proto mall
Development of department stores; beginning of kleptomania
How clothing is used as a social indicator has changed over time.
Since Renaissance, loosely the time from the Black Death of mid -1300’s,
society has become more fluid & clothing has been losing its position as a
social indicator. It's more a matter of affordability. With knockoffs, outlets, and
designer thrift shops almost anyone can dress like the rich. "Some women spend
a fortune on clothes, others just look like it." - Ritz Thrift Shop ad.
This upsets representatives of the old order, often those who hold power.
Philip Stubbs "An Anatomy of Abuses" 1586
"Whereas I have spoken of the excess in apparel & of the abuse
of the same as well in men as in women, generally I would not be so
understood as though my speeches extended to either noble, honorable
or worshipful; for I am far from thinking that any kind of sumptuous
or gorgeous attire is not to be worn of them; as 1 suppose them
rather ornaments than otherwise.
And therefore when I speak of excess of apparel my meaning
is of the inferior sort who for the most part do far surpass either
noble, honorable or worshipful, ruffling in silks, velvets, sateens,
damasks, taffeties, gold silver and what not, these be the abuses
I speak of, these be the evils I lament, & these be the persons my
words do concern...
There is such a confuse mingle-mangle of apparel and such
preponderous excess thereof, that everyone is permitted to
flaunt it out in what apparel he has himself or can get by
any kind of means. So that it is very hard to know who is
noble, who is worshipful, who is a gentleman, who is not; for
you shall have those who are neither of the nobility,
gentility, nor yeomanry go daily in silks, velvets, damasks,
taffeties notwithstanding they be base by birth, mean by
estate, and servile by calling. This is a great confusion, a
general disorder. God be merciful unto us."
Sumptuary laws. Regulation of who may wear what.
May be for economic advantage (English wool, French lace, Buy American
campaigns) or purely social reasons: Length of shoe points, ca. 1400,
Hoops required at court, forbidden at theatre (18th c. England) - can lead to
absurdities like early 1800's hoops for court)
Dress regulations can work in some societies. Distinctions in Republican
Rome broke down under emperors (Caligula's horse in the senate).
Tell rich from poor, but middle is blurry. Nouveau riches/ poor gentry
(Bourgeois Gentilhomme) Everybody wants to look their best. Mrs. Arthur
Abbot of Boston, 1675, charged in court with "wearing a hood above her
station". (Husband paid fine.) Attempts to regulate have been made, and
usually fail, with the exception of situations like WWII, where rationing for
all was a patriotic duty. Regulations have come to be effective mostly
against minorities or the socially powerless. (Prostitutes, Jewish
community) Hassidim made imposed style a badge of identity.
Limitations on change:
>Recurring shapes - tube/cone, balance: top/bottom, front/back
>Reinterpretations of earlier styles: always changed in some way
>Changes occur with increasing speed : (19th c. silhouettes), 20th c.
Industrial revolution: sewing machines, factory production of
cloth, ready-made garments.
>Earlier changes often involved surface decoration rather than cut.
Conservative elements: esp. hair and makeup.
Styles take time to become accepted, filter down from designers
and up from street style.
May be retained by some after the trend setters have moved on.
People may "freeze" a youthful style. (Colbert, Taylor)
Classic styles: not extreme, accepted for years. (Men's suits)
>Traditional ethnic wear - "peasant" costume. Now used for special
occasions. Origins in ancient styles (Russian peasant/Viking) or
popular versions of former fashions where bright
colors and patterns replace silks, brocades, jeweled trim.
Tribal identification in traditional societies
> Religious dress - ceremonial or socially required
*Vestments - Rome via Byzantium
*Habits - simple medieval style (wimples worn by married women)
Wealthy nuns wore silk, etc. Later elaborate styles simply
imitate the past.
*Social commentary - Quakers refuse cotton before Civil War,
Muslim women in West adopt hijab voluntarily, while some in
conservative countries want to dress less traditionally.
* religious groups who establish identity through dress (Amish, Hasidim)
Designers are not immune to reinterpreting the past to suit the preconceptions of the present.
Artistic license has always existed: take into account the aesthetics of the time when the art
was done; even nudes have fashionable bodies.
"Futuristic" is rooted in the present.
>Stereotyped "attributes" – common in 17th/ 18th c.
1853 - Mrs. Charles Kean's "absolutely authentic" Greek drapery
over a crinoline
1920's - crinoline under dropped waist
1957 "Bridge on the River Kwai" native girls in uplift bras
1968 - "Lion in Winter" - it's 1187, Alys is dressed for mid-1400's
>Romanticizing the past: Puritans & dye list
*Sadd colors: browns (liver, wood, deer, tawney, russet, ginger)
purple, French green, orange
*Light colors: pale blue, pale green, pink, lemon, sulphur,
lavender, ecru, cream.
*Graine colors: shades of scarlet
Design has become more historically conscious: Contrast films depicting Eliz. I
in 1930's, 50's, 70's, 90's
Even in the 30's "Mutiny on the Bounty" costumers went to Bligh's tailor
Films can often be dated by the way they handle details: cut of women's
dresses, especially hair and makeup. (GWTW, Agony & Ecstasy)
TV can produce both best & worst historical work.
Problem: In some the stars are stylish while the extras may be more authentic.
(Some request separate designers.)
Actors don't want to look "unattractive", even if it's accurate.
Or, actors go with the period, no matter how outlandish it may now appear.
"Draughtsman's Contract", final scene of "Elizabeth"
CLASS 12 – History2
The work of cloth production.
Fiber preparation - wool, linen, cotton, silk; leather
Spinning, weaving, dyeing, then create garment – mostly women’s work,
Draped vs. Cut (closer fit to body) - (demo)
Archaeological record, prehistory – invention of needle, shaped clothing
Actual garments as sources: the farther back you go, the less is sure. (see: Class 7)
> No throwaway clothes - remade, reused (Quotes 1780's, 1880's, below)
>Cut down for children, became diapers, rags.
>Theatre donations - ended with greater demand for accuracy, simpler Empire
styles. (Gold trim could be sold for $.)
>Middle East, Classical & Byzantine world
>Dark ages/ early medieval – Loose fitting, from shoulders, after Crusades (1095+):
more options, married women cover hair (until 19th c.)
> 1300’s – Renaissance – Black Death, changing class structure & attitudes, printing
buttons, tighter fit, body display
> High Renaissance – expanded trade opportunities, new technologies:
starch, knitting /corseting & hoops, pads, increased sexualization
th – th
>17 18 c. - Enlightenment - Wigs, Development of suit & tie
>Later 19th – early 19th c. – Rose Bertin, revolutions, neoclassicism
>19th c. Technology: cotton gin, jacquard loom, aniline dye, sewing machine
Industrial production. Change focuses on women. Fashion magazines
Increased rapidity of change: Silhouettes by decade
A Confederate spy had under hoop skirt: “1 pr. fine boots, 2 pr. pants, 1 shirt, 1 naval cap, 1
doz. linen collars, l doz. pocket handkerchiefs, 50 skeins of sewing silk, a "lot" of spool cotton,
needles, tooth-brushes, hair combs, 2 pocket knives, dressing pins, several pr. gloves, 1 razor,
4 - 5 lb. assorted candy, & several letters.”
>20th c. – emancipation of women (wars, legislation), communication & travel
Leisure & sportswear, new ideals – movie stars, celebrities
Changing body image: Beauty queen (Miss Sweden) 1951: 5’7”/151 lb.
1983: 5’9”/109 lb.
Advertising: White Rock girl model: 1950’s: 5’4”, 140 lb.
1990’s: 5’10”, 110 lb.
Vanity sizing: Between brands, patterns
1940: (Hip 7” down; no sizes below 12)
Size 12 Size 14 Size 16 Size 18 Size 20
30 32 34 36 38
25 27 28 30 32
33 35 37 39 41
Early – mid 1960’s:
Size 12 Size 14 Size 16 Size 18 Size 20
32 34 36 38 40
25 26 28 30 32
34 36 38 40 42
2000’s (hip 9” down; no size 20)
Size 4 Size 6 Size 8 Size 10 Size 12 Size 14 Size 16 Size 18
29½ 30½ 31½ 32½ 34 36 38 40
22 23 24 25 26½ 28 30 32
31½ 32½ 33½ 34½ 36 38 40 42
1900’s – hourglass figures, layers, shirtwaists
1910’s – slim silhouette, Wartime restrictions, & working women, shortening skirts
Class differences on Titanic, 1912:
First Class: Mrs. Cardeza: 14 trunks, 4 suitcases, 3 crates, medicine chest
Contents: 70 dresses, ($150 & up), 10 fur coats, 38 large feather
pieces, 22 hatpins, 91 pr. gloves, 37 scarves & veils, 45 hankies (Total claim, including
Billy Carter: 60 shirts, 2 tail-suits, 15 pr. shoes, 24 polo sticks
Maj. Archibald Butt: 7 trunks for 6 weeks.
Second class: Lulu Drew & husband: 1 satchel, 2 trunks - $500
4 overcoats, 7 hats (2W, 5M) 5 suits, underwear : 12 suits/mens,
24/women's, 12 blouses, 5 dresses, 2 dress shirts, 18 collars, 30 hankies, 15 pr. gloves, 12
ties, + umbrellas, watch, shaving kit
1920’s – flat chested, boyish figure w/ short skirts & hair, low waist, makeup
1930’s – Return of natural waist, longer skirts, bias cuts, use of artificial fibers
(rayon), invention of nylon
1940’s –military styles, rationing, Dior’s New Look in 1948
1950’s – back to hourglass figures, femininity. Late 50’s sheath dresses
1960’s – Early: Jackie Kennedy, A-lines, Carnaby St., Loss of hats, greater
informality for men. Later, into 70’s: hippies, ubiquity of jeans
1970’s – polyester, leisure suits, platforms, ethnic chic, Annie Hall, dress for
success, designer jeans
1980’s – 90’s – Top heavy silhouette, shoulder pads & leggings, spandex, bling,
underwear as outerwear
90’s – 2000’s – increased use of lycra, body hugging, low rise pants, dichotomy
between rising obesity/rail thin ideals
Quotes on reworking of clothing:
1782 - I was soon busily employed to get my first satin gown made. It was of a puce color,
trimmed with white satin, and a petticoat of the same color to match the trimming.
1785 - It was a brilliant court. The dresses were showy, as steel embroidery was introduced
this season, and is very generally worn. My puce satin, for this fourth year, I had trimmed
with a row of flat steel down each front, the white being taken off, cap and petticoat being
trimmed to match, and steel buckles on black satin shoes.
1786 - My puce satin was once more done up, with a white gauze handkerchief trimmed
with narrow blonde (lace), and the same on the sleeves and cap.
1788 - ...the puce satin, with the trimmed sleeves and gauze handkerchief as before,
the ends of it being fastened in front by three white satin broad straps buckled with
steel buckles. The last addition was a gauze apron as long as the gown, which met
behind at the waist and was finished off with two equal bows...and a large
nosegay of artificial flowers.
(Private Life in the Time of Queen Charlotte, quoted in The Cut of Women’s Clothes)
1882 "Tomorrow my dressmaker finishes her engagement with me and
I hope my satin dress... Four years ago I had been looking at a dress length
of black satin sent home from the shop. "Why didn't you buy it white first, and get the
good of a white satin?" (a friend) asked. "You could so easily get it dyed black." Happy
thought! they consented to change it for me at the shop; it did admirably for me as
a white dinner dress, then, dyed a pretty red; and now it comes out once more ever
beautiful and new, black!
(Lady Jebb, With Dearest Love to All, quoted in The Cut of Women’s Clothes)
CLASS 13 – Media & Movement
Differences between various theatrical media: Film & video,
Live theatre: plays, musicals, opera, dance
Film - most exacting in terms of detail: camera can pick up minutia
Is most flexible in terms of special effects
Budgets usually permit multiple takes, multiple costumes provided
Damage can be real (ripped clothes); Accidents reshot
Live performance: Separation of audience permits acceptance of varied
levels of realism, shortcuts and abstractions
Film has raised expectations of what can be done (morphing faces)
(paint or lace "embroidery")
Clothes need to stand up to the wear & tear of 8shows/week
Scale: Camera is one - on - one, but stage differs from small off B'way
to Radio City or Metropolitan Opera
Opera: larger than life, usually big stages & houses
>Balance between front rows & back balconies; filling stage,
actors & scenery (large casts)
>Dressing & making up actors without overwhelming them
Live broadcasts look clunky, but not the best to attend
Tactics - *Line: exaggerated silhouettes, bulk, trains or draperies,
headdresses or wigs
*Color: large areas, sharp contrasts, big patterns &
*Ornament & Accessories: large, showy, glitz
Musicals: mix of dialogue & music, different vocal qualities,
more physically active, singers also dance, act
(Some crossover - Candide, Phantom)
Trailing draperies etc. hamper movement
Historically, masques included song & dance in story, then opera
& ballet split. Musicals bring it back together.
Dance: ritual origins, non - literary, based on movement, may be
Based on body (leotards, tights, nudity, body paint)
Costumes must permit necessary movement, may be incorporated into dance.
Fabric selection is important. Silk drapes better than poly,
Lycra, knits have expanded possibilities
Movement: mostly the concern of the actor, director, choreographer
Costumer must be aware and help the performer adjust, esp. if the
costume will substantially affect quality of movement or pose
Rehearsal clothes: provide corsets etc. ASAP
>Period work: get into the spirit of another time. Modern clothing
imposes few restrictions. (Short skirts, high heels)
Habits learned from childhood become natural; deportment lessons
Actors are challenged to move appropriately (or reviewers will comment)
Corsets - used by women from late 1400's, men occasionally
Vary by period (examples)
Effects: Breasts may be compressed or emphasized, waists usually small
as a result of changing torso from childhood.
Compression of ribcage, abdomen in extreme cases; may cause fainting
Straight posture, perch on chairs.
To turn, use whole upper body.
Corset construction: Bones in pockets, (layers or tape)
Types of boning: whalebone (baleen) wood, steel, (plain or spiral) plastic.
Busk. Lacing &/or hooks.
Corseted upper body usually balanced by fullness below
>Layers of petticoats (1840's, 90's)
>Hoops/ farthingales: (Spanish origin - royal indiscretion?)
Cages - Elizabethan drum style, Victorian
architectural adjustments needed to accommodate
designed for women with leisure time
caricatures, moralists (ankles!)
hoop management, "swimming" movement, sitting
>Bum rolls: 16th/17th c.
>Panniers: cage or hip bucket in 18th c. - eliminated by French revolution.
>Bustle: late 18th c., 1870's - 80's. Front draping may restrict movement.
“Grecian bend”, back strain, 1885 - limit of absurdity
Extreme styles spawned rational dress movement, women's rights: early
bloomers, loose or divided skirts - considered not stylish & laughed away
Late 19th c. lifestyle change - women take up sports
Managing bulk, concealment, exposure: often easier for women, who
wear a greater variety of clothes in regular life.
Leg exposure - women covered, sitting stance w/ spread knees
(Huck Finn thread toss)
Men exposed until c. 1800 - French Revolution "sans culottes"
Breeches retained for livery, boys, golf.
May be a problem for actors. (I'm wearing a skirt!)
Footwear – high heels, confinement
Floor length skirts, trains : how to manage, being aware of others
Dust ruffles, cleaning the streets (trash, mud)
"In those days, nearly everyone accepted their inconveniences as
Once the job of maids, now wardrobe.
Medieval draperies: sometimes longer than the body to denote status
(Comparable to China/layers, S. Pacific/weight)
>Big headdresses: hennin (a.k.a. pointy princess hat), need for straps?
>Swaybacked posture, belly forward: pregnant look, (even virgin saints) (pix)
Modern viewers won't accept such extremes.
Historically, lower social levels less artificial, more practical.
*Aristocrats use body for display, peasants for work. Clothes were made more for
protection & modesty, though they still wanted to still look good)
In lower classes, skirts clear ground, anything in the way gets removed or
belted up. Men remove confining garments while working or for comfort.