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How to become a Wardrobe Assistant

wardrobe assistant careers

What does a Wardrobe Assistant do?

Wardrobe assistants are junior members of the wardrobe/costume department, which is responsible for providing both made and hired costumes. The department is headed by a costume designer - see the Costume Designer profile for details of this role. Assistants work under the direction of the costume supervisor or wardrobe master/mistress as part of a wider costume team, which on large productions may also include cutters, makers, finishers, dyers and milliners.

Assistants' main duties are: dressing the artists; standing by to maintain costumes between takes or scenes; making alterations and repairs; packing and unpacking costumes; cleaning and laundering costumes after use; helping with buying and fittings; occasionally making pieces, breaking down costumes, and any other duties deemed useful by other members of the costume team.

What's the working environment like working as a Wardrobe Assistant?

Wardrobe assistants are usually employed on a freelance basis, so hours and conditions vary. Hours are likely to be long and irregular, especially during a production.

Depending on the nature and location of the production, wardrobe assistants may work in studios or theatres, or out on location.

What does it take to become a Wardrobe Assistant?

To be a wardrobe assistant you should:

  • have a strong interest in the theatre/films/TV
  • have good hand and machine sewing and other practical garment skills
  • have an appreciation of style, an interest in costume history and design and in contemporary fashion
  • be flexible and adaptable
  • be able to pay keen attention to detail, for dealing with continuity in film and TV
  • be able to follow precise instructions
  • be well organised and able to work under pressure
  • be tactful when dealing with performers.

Wardrobe Assistant Career Opportunities

Employment is usually on a freelance basis, permanent positions are rare.

Once you have gained experience, and possibly undertaken further training, it may be possible to progress to costume supervisor or wardrobe master/mistress, and possibly from then on to assistant costume designer. See the Costume Designer profile for information on this role.

Wardrobe and design experts tend to stay in the same area - stage, film or TV - but there may be opportunities for the most experienced people to diversify.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Wardrobe Assistant that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Skillset Careers
Tel: 08080 300 900 for England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Tel: 0808 100 8094 for Scotland

Prospect House
80-110 New Oxford Street

Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444

FT2 Film and Television Freelance Training
4th Floor
Warwick House
Warwick Street

Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU)
373-377 Clapham Road

Association of British Theatre Technicians
55 Farringdon Road
Tel: 020 7242 9200

Facts and Stats:

  • Nearly one in 10 people watch television every day in an average week. The average amount watched remains at 26 hours a week. 59 per cent of those surveyed watching between two and five hours a day.
  • Filming for an episode of Eastenders normally starts six weeks before its transmission.
  • 60 per cent of people in broadcasting work on a freelance basis. The UK has some 240 radio services. The average listener can only pick up 15, six belonging to the BBC and nine commercial ones

Courses to help you become a Wardrobe Assistant