As we are approaching Halloween, this seemed like an appropriate topic.
One of the most common questions i get is about wardrobe and what different things mean when casting asks for specific types of dress. I also often see talent inappropriately dressed for auditions. The message that sends to the clients watching is either a) i didn’t give you the pertinent information or b) you didn’t bother to read/listen to it - meaning you don’t follow directions.
How important is it to dress as asked? Pretty important. You want to show the clients that you are able to follow directions, perform as asked, and that you immediately give off the feel they are looking for. When you don’t, it makes it more challenging to sell their ultimate clients (like the people at the company the project is for, not the ad agency or production) on using you in their spot.
Business Dress: this means dress “professionally”. Think corporate, lawyers, finance people, dress for a board room meeting. So suit, jacket and tie for men, pants suit or skirt and blouse for women.
Business Casual: this means dress like you work in an office setting. Nice pants, khakis, button up shirt. Sometimes nice jeans will work. Ladies you can wear a skirt or dress as well, but a less “serious”, more casual one. Maybe a sundress with a cover up.
Night Out: this means dress like you’re going out and getting all dolled up. This can be more like club attire, or a swanky party.
Nice Casual: this means dress like you’re going out somewhere. Maybe a dinner with friends, or some kind of social event. Nice jeans, men maybe a button up shirt, but it doesn’t have to be a “dress” shirt. Women maybe you pair a nice top with a pair of jeans or khakis. This is similar to biz casual, but can be a little more fun and a little looser.
Casual: this means dress like you’re going grocery shopping, or running errands. Jeans and t shirts are perfectly acceptable, but let’s try to have them not have holes or paint etc on them.
Weekend Casual: jeans and a t, these can be the more run down variety, the type of clothes you do chores in, or you’re just hanging around your house in.
Athletic: wear work out clothes. Generally clients are looking for tight clothes so they can see what your body looks like. Most women’s workout clothes are already like this, and men if you have a compression shirt this is a good time to wear it. Otherwise, a tank top is good so we can see your arms better.
Make up: this one is female specific. 99.9% of the time your make up should be natural. When you wear heavy makeup, thick eyeliner, smoky eyes etc, it makes it really hard to see what you actually look like. If you wouldn’t do your makeup that way to go to your day job, don’t do it for an audition.
Busy patterns and super bright colors cause the camera to do strange things, it changes the white balance and can make all the colors in frame appear dark or dingy if your outfit is too bright. Busy patterns (especially thin stripes) can make the camera “roll”, which means the pattern literally moves while on camera because it can not focus on it properly.
Wearing “Night Out” attire to any audition that doesn’t ask for it. If you are being called in as waitstaff or an office employee and you come in to the studio in some skin tight top and pants and 6 inch heeled boots, you’re almost automatically ruling yourself out. They won’t be able to see you as anything other than what you’re presenting. This also goes the other way. If you are asked to come dressed Business, and you show up super casual, the client may rule you out because they didn’t get to see what they wanted to see.
You don’t need to wear a lab coat just because the role is someone medical. At my office, if i want you in a lab coat, i have 3 and will put you in one of those. I’ll often say IF you have scrubs wear them, and if you don’t just a looser t shirt and either jeans or like yoga pants will work.
Don’t ever go out and BUY something just for an audition. That is silly and a waste of money and your time. So if we ask for say, Patriots gear, and you don’t have any, that’s FINE, for something like that ANY sports jersey you may have will work. OR just a t shirt or sweatshirt, it doesn’t HAVE to have the logos on it! It’s about the TYPE of clothes, not specifically what is on them. Wear what you would wear to attend a game.
Try not to think about wardrobe as a costume, it’s more about the feel and vibe that certain styles of dress give off. This should probably go without saying in today’s world, but i’ll say it anyways, never ever dress in ethnic stereotypes. If i’ve called you in to portray a Mexican migrant worker from the early 1900s for a historical piece, jeans and a work shirt are literally all i’m looking for from you on that. Please, seriously, don’t wear a sombrero. Or a poncho. Or a bollo. I give you all the character info so you can do the INTERNAL work of figuring out who the character is, not so you can costume yourself. Not only is it wildly inappropriate and offensive, it makes it seem like you are covering up your lack of acting ability with distracting costume pieces. This makes the role a caricature, not a portrait of real life. You want us to focus on your talent, not your clothing.
Shoes. 99.9% of the time we will NEVER SEE what shoes you are wearing, so sneakers are generally fine. If you as an actor want to change your shoes so you FEEL more like the roles, that’s fine, but know that I don’t need you to. I generally only come out to your mid-calf when i go for a full length shot.
Kids should always be dressed casual. Whatever they wore to school that day is fine. Parents don’t need to dress their kids up like they are going to church or some other place you wear “nice” clothes to. While i love me a little boy in a suit jacket, that’s not needed for auditions. NO MAKEUP. Parents, please, stop putting makeup on your children, we want them to look like kids not Barbie dolls. If boys have longer hair, do your best to have it out of his face. Stay away from barrettes and headbands with large bows or things on them, it’s distracting on camera, and we want to be able to focus on their beautiful adorable faces, not the glittery bouncing flower in their hair.
Now that we have that all out of the way, what are you going to be for Halloween????