Stage costumes can provide audiences with information about a character's occupation, social status, gender, age, sense of style and tendencies towards conformity or individualism. As well, costumes can:
reinforce the mood and style of the production
distinguish between major and minor characters
suggest relationships between characters
change an actor's appearance
suggest changes in character development and age
be objects of beauty in their own right.
Costume designs also need to include any accessories such as canes, hats, gloves, shoes, jewelry or masks. These costume props add a great deal of visual interest to the overall costume design. They are often the items that truly distinguish one character from another.
The designer's work
Costume designers begin their work by reading the script to be produced. If the production is set in a specific historical era, the fashions of this period will need to be researched. To stimulate the flow of ideas at the first meeting with the director and the design team (set, costume, lighting and sound designers), the costume designer may want to present a few rough costume sketches. This is also an appropriate time to check with the director on the exact number of characters needing costumes, as any non-speaking characters the director plans to include may not have been listed in the script.
It is the costume designer's responsibility to draw up the costume plot. The costume plot is a list or chart that shows which characters appear in each scene, what they are wearing and their overall movement throughout the play. This helps track the specific costume needs of every...