Wardrobe assistants typically work in the fashion, lifestyle and entertainment industries. Their primary duties include providing wardrobe and personal appearance services, managing wardrobes, garments and accessories for laundry, dry cleaning, care, mending and storage. Wardrobe assistants are fashionable and friendly, and work in conjunction with clients, fashion designers, costume designers and production designers.
Wardrobe assistants are also referred to as costume attendants, personal appearance workers and image consultants. They may work on the sets of plays, musicals, films and television productions, or provide grooming and personal appearance services to clients in a consultative manner. In the entertainment industry, wardrobe assistants design, produce and acquire costumes during the run of a theatrical production. As image consultants, they help individuals with their personal appearance; they provide feedback on a person’s image, shop for clothes on their behalf and advise on other aspects of physical appearance, such as hair, make-up and grooming. In the fashion industry, wardrobe assistants help fashion designers and stylists with styling and dressing models for photo shoots and runway shows.
Training and professional development
A broad background is necessary for career advancement. Knowledge of literature, film, current styles, costumes of various time periods and the technical side of film-making are some useful competency areas for wardrobe assistants. Wardrobe assistants can enhance their skills in these areas through their work experience and interactions with wardrobe supervisors, production designers and costume makers. Internships and apprentice-style training are sometimes offered by film production studios and theatres. Part-time work and internships help wardrobe assistants build their portfolio of work, which is very important for future employment.
Skills and experience
Most employers prefer to hire wardrobe assistants who are educated to GCSE or A-level. In lieu of a graduate degree, employees look for individuals with foundational skills and basic experience in fashion design, styling and garment care. A BTEC in Fashion and Clothing or Production Arts (Costume) may be relevant. Wardrobe assistant positions are well suited for individuals with a keen attention to detail, knowledge of the entertainment, lifestyle and fashion industries, and impeccable grooming. Their work experience should demonstrate the ability to contribute to a deadline-driven environment, and a working knowledge of the principles and processes for providing personal appearance services.
Wardrobe assistants advance their career as they build reputations in the industry. In the entertainment industry, they may start with small productions and advance to larger ones as costume designers and directors become familiar with their work. Personal image consultants generally build their clientele and reputation through referrals from happy clients.
Starting salaries for wardrobe assistants in the UK are highly variable. Work can be intermittent; a wardrobe assistant may earn several hundred pounds a day while on a production, but spend long periods without a show to work on.
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