Wardrobe Essentials Background Actors Should Know

JANUARY 31, 2022
Costumer measuring a woman for wardrobe essentials.

At Central Casting, Background Actors are cast based on their look and their ability to portray a certain role. Having different wardrobe essentials can add a variety to the types of roles you can portray and can help you be successful on set.

Why is wardrobe important?

Think of two TV shows that take place during the same time and in the same location. It's likely they have a distinguishable aesthetic that sets them apart from each other. For example, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and Blue Bloods are two police procedurals that take place in modern day New York, but each has its own unique look and feel. One of the ways films and TV shows achieve this is through wardrobe.

A production's costumes department has a lot to think about when they're designing and compiling clothing. Each character's outfit needs to match their personality, fit within the look of the show, and be realistic for the setting. As a Background Actor, your wardrobe choices are a key factor in helping costumers realize their vision. The wrong outfit choice can ruin the credibility of the look production is trying to create.

How you should arrive to set

When you're hired by Central Casting, your details will have all the information you need for your booking, including wardrobe, makeup, and hair notes. Some productions will have very specific looks for you to emulate, others may leave room for you to inject your own style, and some may provide wardrobe for you. Whatever the case, it's important to read your details carefully to understand your role. Unless otherwise stated in your details, you should arrive to set with your wardrobe clean and unwrinkled. When instructed to bring your clothes instead of arriving camera ready, be sure they make it to set in good condition.

Even 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.

When working as a Stand-In, production may have wardrobe for you or ask you to bring color cover. Color cover means clothing that is similar in color and pattern to what the principal actor is wearing. This helps the crew light the scene correctly.

Keeping sizes current in online profile

Having your correct sizes is important for Casting Directors, especially when booking doubles, Stand-Ins, and when dressed by production. Let's say you're booked as a featured Background Actor on a period show and get to set to find out you don't fit the costume. To avoid situations like these, it's a good idea to keep your online profile updated with your current sizes. Like with all your information, even a small appearance change that seems minor to you can matter to Casting Directors, especially when searching for precise looks.

Need help figuring out your measurements? We have easy to follow video tutorials on our Measurements page to get you started.

Don't forget, you can also upload photos of yourself in unique and distinct wardrobe to your online profile. Want to show off your formal attire? Have a non-trademarked Halloween costume that you own? Adding these types of unique wardrobe photos helps Casting Directors determine the types of roles you can portray.

Now that you know the wardrobe essentials, you can start thinking about hair and makeup. To learn more about creating your entire look for set, see the guides in our wardrobe, hair, and makeup article categories.

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By Meghan Dubitsky

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