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Hi I'm Emily Maguire

I'm a UK career coach and business coach for individuals in the creative and entertainment industries and passionate about helping people achieve their career goals. I'm also a top voice on LinkedIn for the Film Industry and a podcast producer and host.

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Emily Maguire UK Career Coach and Business Coach for the arts, creative and entertainment industry

Discovering a Creative Path as a Costume Designer

Updated: 1 day ago

Interested in becoming a costume designer? Costume designers create and design costumes for various forms of entertainment, working closely with directors, producers, and actors to develop appropriate costumes for the setting, time period, and characters. Read on to learn more.

Arts Jobs: Discovering a Creative Path as a Costume Designer

Table of Contents


1. So, You Want to be a Costume Designer?

A costume designer is a creative professional who designs costumes for characters in film, TV, and theatre. They work collaboratively with the entire production crew, using their artistic talents to create clothes that help convey and enhance the character's identity, lifestyle, and culture to the audience. Through research, script reading, imagination, and character development, they ensure that the clothes they design accurately suit the story's plot, tone, and time period.

Costume designers will have eclectic knowledge and visual references of materials and patterns they draw upon for their inspiration. They will create mood boards, sketches, and digital images of their ideas for the director and production team. Once signed off, the designer will work on putting the outfits together, sometimes by scratch and sometimes via an ensemble of ready-made pieces. Costumes are then altered and fitted to the cast.

If you need help writing your CV, see my blog posts on creating a CV for TV and Media jobs.

2. Costume Design Job Description

To pursue a career in costume design, developing skills in fashion design, textiles, and costume history is essential. This can be done through a formal education program or by taking courses and workshops. 

Building a portfolio by designing costumes for theatre productions and attending industry events can help gain exposure, build a reputation, and establish a network of industry connections, which are important for success.

3. Costume Designer Salary

What can you expect to earn as a Costume Designer?

The UK average salary, which ranges from £22,000 to £34,000, varies depending on experience, production size, type, and company.

You may work long, unsociable hours, often evenings and weekends, from home or in a studio. Depending on your speciality, you can work on various projects, including feature films, short films, television shows, commercials, music videos, and corporate videos.

TV and Media Jobs: Skills and Qualities

4. TV and Media Jobs: Skills and Qualities

Still interested but unsure if you have the right skills and qualities?

Costume Designers should have the skills and qualities of:

  • Being organised, self-motivated and resourceful.

  • Teamwork and attention to detail. 

  • Having good stamina, resilience and adaptability.

  • Ability to plan and research.

  • Creativity, design and manual dexterity.

  • Good at networking and communicating.

  • The ability to problem solve and think outside of the box.

5. Useful Subjects

Below are some of the subjects that could help you pursue a career in this role.

  • Art and Design

  • Costume Design

  • Drama

  • English

  • Fashion and Textiles 

  • Graphic Design

  • History

  • Maths

  • Performing Arts (Production)

  • Photography

  • Theatre Studies

You can also gain work experience by volunteering for Amdram, working on student films, or working on a set as a runner. Costume design apprenticeship schemes and internships are also available, and you can undertake a degree in costume design, fashion, or theatre design.

6. Day-to-Day Responsibilities

A typical day-to-day working as a costume designer may involve:

  • Study a script and discuss costume ideas with actors, directors, make-up artists and set designers.

  • Research costume styles, fabrics, colours and designs 

  • Sketch and create costumes that are authentic to the production setting.

  • Ensure costume continuity between shots and scenes.

  • Create computerised costume designs.

  • Organising fittings and schedules and ensuring that costumes are ready on time.

  • Manage the wardrobe budget.

7. Where to Find More Information

Still interested in being a costume designer? Here are some places to find more details about the role.

8. Related Careers

Are you curious about other TV and film job roles in the media industry? Have you considered any of the following?

Fashion Designer: To become a fashion designer, you need to have a passion for fashion and a keen eye for trends. You should also have a deep appreciation for the history of fashion and the ability to envision future trends. You should also be creative and enjoy expressing yourself through your designs, whether using colours, fabrics, or styles.

Prop Maker: As a prop maker, you'll bring the director's vision to life by designing and constructing props that enhance the story's narrative and create a more immersive experience for the audience. You'll need to develop diverse skills that include design, fabrication, and problem-solving.

Set Designer: A set designer is responsible for creating the visual world of a play, movie, or TV show. They work with directors, producers, and other designers to develop a design concept that meets the production's needs and vision. To become a set designer, you must have a strong foundation in design principles and techniques. You'll need to learn about colour theory, composition, and space, as well as gain an understanding of the technical aspects of design.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of what it takes to become a costume designer. To stay updated with the latest industry news and job opportunities, make sure to follow me on LinkedIn. If you are interested in watching some videos and discovering more creative careers, then you may enjoy my career resources, which can be found here.

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