What does a Costume Attendant do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A costume attendant is a member of the production staff who is responsible for managing the costumes. On some productions, costume attendants may handle design and construction of costumes, while in others, this is handled by a costume designer. The costume attendant makes sure that the costumes for a production are kept in good condition throughout the show, and that they are properly returned or stored when the production is over.

Costume attendants make sure each piece can be comfortably worn by the performers.
Costume attendants make sure each piece can be comfortably worn by the performers.

In some cases, a costume attendant is assigned to one performer. This is common when a performer has a number of costume changes during a show, or when a performer's costumes are high maintenance and require special care and treatment. In other instances, costume attendants handle all of the costumes for the production.

The attendant cleans and presses costumes between shows, makes sure that all of the components of the costumes are present, and handles minor repairs. She or he is responsible for checking costumes to confirm that they look right, and for laying out costumes between changes and shows so that they are ready for performers to put on.

The costume attendant creates detailed records pertaining to costumes, and maintains logs throughout the production. This information can be used if a production is remounted in the future, and is also utilized at the end of the production to find out where various costume components need to be returned to when the show is broken down at the end of the run. Costume attendants can also be in charge of returning rented and borrowed items, and preparing items for storage in a costume storage department.

In some production companies, costume attendants also assign and maintain lockers and dressing rooms. For example, the costume attendant would lay out costumes in a dressing room for a performer, and make sure that everything the performer needed was prepared. If the performer needed help with dressing or changing between scenes, the costume attendant would provide assistance.

This job is usually treated as an entry level position in the performing arts. People who are interested in costume design, for example, may start out as costume attendants to learn the trade. As costume attendants gain experience, they can be trusted with increasingly complex and demanding tasks, which can include managing the costume department for a show on tour, or handling costume modifications to accommodate changes in performers' bodies or an artistic desire for a shift in the look and feel of the production.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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