An associate's or bachelor's degree in fashion or a related field is recommended for those interested in pursuing a career as a wardrobe specialist. Completing an internship to gain hands-on experience is also recommended in this field.
A wardrobe specialist prepares and maintains collections of clothing and accessories for use in theater, dance, opera, film, television or video productions. Wardrobe specialists, part of the career field known as costume attendants, may also work on fashion shows. Wardrobes range from modern garments to period costumes. An associate's or bachelor's degree is typically required to become a wardrobe specialist. Internships are also helpful to gain experience in the field.
|Required Education||Associate's or bachelor's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||9%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$44,500|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A bachelor's degree is commonly required by those who want to obtain a career as a wardrobe specialist, although there are associate's degree programs that prepare students for this career as well. Education programs typically include classes in sewing methods, textiles, pattern making and computer-aided design.
There are various associate's degree programs that can lead to a career as a wardrobe specialist. One such degree is in fashion design, which contains courses like drawing, pattern and apparel design, fashion art and fabric selection. It's also possible to pursue a degree in a field such as television, film or video, which, through hands-on work in video and audio production laboratories, can prepare students for work as wardrobe assistants or specialists.
Students may enroll in a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program in fashion, textiles or a related field, either as a freshman or as a transfer student who's already completed an associate's degree program. Concentrations may be available in areas like fabric styling and fashion design. Typically covered are subjects like trend research, design concepts, textile construction and fashion history. Computer skills - critical in the preparation of wardrobe designs and presentations - are taught. Other courses include advanced sewing techniques, flat pattern drafting, draping, tailoring and fashion drawing. Bachelor's degree programs may also offer internships that afford hands-on experience in the field.
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Members of a wardrobe crew typically measure actors for their outfits, help actors with quick changes, distribute costumes, maintain, repair and iron costumes while the production is running and keep records of the wardrobe distribution. Wardrobe specialists may also do research on historical periods for costumes and accessories, as well as create the costume sketches and designs. Other duties might include maintaining dressing rooms, wig rooms and costume storage.
Wardrobe specialist careers vary from entry-level positions as wardrobe assistants, crew members and attendees to the highest levels as managers or crew heads. Wardrobe assistants generally assist the manager with maintaining an inventory of costumes and working on the cleaning, upkeep and repair of actors' wardrobes. Managers typically meet with directors and designers about costume needs, hire and supervise wardrobe crews, manage wardrobe budgets, oversee wardrobe production and make sure that costumes are ready for fittings and performances.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Wardrobe assistants can also be called costume attendants, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment opportunities for costume attendants will increase by 9% over the 2014-2024 decade. Data from the BLS shows that costume attendants earned a median annual salary of $44,500 in May 2015.
Wardrobe specialists maintain the clothes and accessories used for a film, TV show, dance, opera or theater production. They need knowledge of sewing, textiles and computer-aided design, and can gain these skills through a postsecondary degree program and internship. Jobs in this field range from entry-level to management positions, and costume attendants will see a faster-than-average increase in jobs through the year 2024.