Costume Designer

by Katy Keich
Costume Designer

If you've ever marveled at how accurately actors embody the characters in a period piece, or felt transported to a different place (even a place that may not technically exist, like Gotham), you've succumbed to the artistry of costume designers.

The Work

Costume designers create clothing that will complement the characters, period and mood of a film.

Costume designers are sometimes considered part of the fashion design world, but their creations are designed not just to please a customer or make a statement, but to tell a story. Costume designers help actors become the characters in a TV show, movie, play, or commercial by dressing them to look the part. In this sense, they are more akin to set designers.

Costume designers spend a great deal of time researching the time period or setting of a play or movie, whether it's a period piece or contemporary. They also work continously with the director, set designer, and writers to ensure that the costumes are appropriate for the characters and context of the storyline. They also work with the cinematographer, production designer, or art deparment to ensure the color palette of the costumes fits in with the overall approach of the production.

After researching costumes and making sketches, costume designers determine how many costumes will be needed. They then work with the costume crew (illustrator, costume supervisor, and set costumers) to calculate a budget, arrange to manufacture, rent, or purchase the cosutmes, and fit them to actors.


Many costume designers hold a bachelor's degree in the fine arts, film, fashion, set design, or theatre design.

Along with a degree or degrees, successful costume designers have a strong eye for detail and color, as well as an interest in art history and sociology. They are also able to work within a strict budget and communicate well with the other members of a production team.

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