Costume Design

How to Pick The Right Costume


Color Scheme


First off, the most basic part of choosing a costume is understanding the foundations of clothing, which basically applies to everything in design. What is it? Color scheme.


Often times, color is used to govern possible meanings and feelings. The color helps to accentuate the current emotion of the individual wearing the costume. The colors on the left side of the palette, light green, yellow, orange, light red all convey emotions that may mean vibrancy, passion or energy. For example, by wearing a bright yellow shirt, an individual mimics the effect of the shining sun, positive and radiant. On the contraire, the right side of the palette, blue, green, purple conveys the sense of tranquility, professionalism, or conservativeness. A man wearing a dark blue suit may suggest a sense of reserved dignity, while a bright red suit may suggest energy and youth.


Why is costume important?


As a precursor to any costume construction and design, all costume designers must be aware that the costume he intends for the character to wear is something that the character would actually pick to choose and wear for the character in his or her life.


There are three main reasons why costume is important in film and theatrical performance.

  • tone and style

o   Like mentioned previously with the color scheme, the costume helps to convey the emotion the character may be feeling or wishing to portray at the moment.

  • time and place

o   The costume does a lot to help establish the setting of a particular film. For example, a Victorian gown will distinctively distinguish itself from a mini skirt. The audience will be able to have a idea of when the film is set without knowing any of the plot or charaters.

  • character information

o   A character’s relationship is evident from their costume. The relationship between a boss and a employer can be seen from the clothes they wear in relationship to each other. The CEO of a company would be wearing a suit, while the cubicle worker would only be wearing a dress shirt. The costume also gives intention of the character. A very obvious example, is the military uniform, this may suggest war and brutality.


In conclusion, as important as the cinematography of the film or the directing of the actors, what the actors wear also requires paramount attention and effort. The different effects clothing have on the outcome of a film demonstrates the reason why it is important to have a good costume designer on any good film team.




Patkar, Mihir. “Learn the Basics of Color Theory to Know What Looks Good” Life Hacker. Web. Jul. 22. 14.


“Costume Design Part 1.” Geneseo. Web. May. 5. 15.

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