Preparing Looks For Different Time Periods

JULY 19, 2021
Jack Davenport and Lucy Liu in 1980s period costumes.
1980s period looks in Why Women Kill (Paramount+)

When you become a Background Actor with Central Casting, you have the opportunity to work on movies and TV shows set in all kinds of time periods, like the 1860s in Dickinson to the 2400s in The Orville. The variety of locations, eras, and storylines gives you the chance to put looks together for a wide range of roles. From prepping period costumes to getting your hair just right, here’s what you need to know about preparing for set.

Period hairstyles

As with any role you book with Central Casting, all your booking information will be in your details, which may come in the form of a Details Blog, details message from our online self-service platform, or another type of communication. It’s important to read this information fully and carefully so you can craft the exact look needed for your category.

Some roles may require very specific hair and for others you will be able to create your own era-appropriate hairstyles. If you need inspiration or instructions for how to create a style, YouTube has how-to videos for a variety of looks for your hair type.

When you arrive to set, the hair department may instruct you on how to finish your look; please come prepared with any items you need to keep your hair camera ready throughout your workday. In some cases, you may be asked to come to set with your hair in rollers, then finish styling after you arrive. If you haven’t used rollers before, this easy tutorial can help you familiarize yourself with the process and how long it takes.

Makeup and nails

Like with hair, your makeup details may be very specific or more general to the era. When creating your look, be aware of your category and the time period. Like some hair trends, many modern makeup techniques are not realistic for past decades. For example, a heavily filled eyebrow would be out of place in some 1980s looks where brows were less defined.

If you’re instructed to do a natural look, that usually means a base foundation, mascara, and light blush. Once you get to set, the makeup department may give you tips on how to complete your makeup using the products you bring with you. Remember, it’s always easier to add than remove, so if you’re not sure how far to take a look, it’s better to do your makeup conservatively and bring your products to set so the makeup department can suggest how to add the finishing touches.

Don’t forget about your nails! Gel and acrylic nails are very modern and often won’t work for period pieces. If you have gels, acrylics, or modern nail art, be sure to ask the Casting Director about nail requirements before submitting or accepting an offer for work.

Period costumes and wardrobe

When it comes to putting your outfit together for set, you may be asked to create your own look, wear clothing provided by production, or a combination of the two. Production’s decision to provide wardrobe can be based on a lot of different factors, like budget, time period, character, scene contents, aesthetic, and more.

When bringing or wearing your wardrobe to set, your clothing should arrive clean and unwrinkled (unless otherwise stated in your details). When wardrobe is provided, there will likely be base items you need to bring, like specific color socks or a certain kind of shoe, and you should always wear clean and sufficient undergarments.

A great way to set yourself up for success is to know your accurate sizes and to keep them up-to-date in your online profile. If you need help figuring out your measurements, we have easy to follow video tutorials on our Measurements page to get you started. While you are updating your sizes, be sure to upload current photos of different looks you can portray and of your unique wardrobe.

If you’re looking for inspiration on period styles, check out our decade guides on 1920s-2000s fashion in our wardrobe article category.

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By Meghan Dubitsky

Article Category:

Hair & MakeupWardrobe


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