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What to wear to an acting audition?

It was a few years back when I was supposed to appear for my first audition. I was confident I will do well but just an hour before I was about to leave, I realized i don’t know what to wear to an acting audition? I was confused. Should I wear my regular clothes or wear something that suits the character?. I assume its similar story for many of the beginners.

Well let me be straightforward and answer your question, you must wear something that suits the character but don’t go overboard with it. Make sure whatever you wear is also comfortable and doesn’t make people around you think, “what’s wrong with him or her?”

However, there is a lot to keep in mind while choosing what to wear to an acting audition. You cannot just pick something and say, “yes this is what my character should wear.” I know from my experience, not everything goes according to a plan in actors life. You might end up in an audition where you are given the script and told, “take 15-20 minutes to prepare it and tell us when you are ready.”  What will you do in that situation?

I’ll try to offer you some sound advice here in this article so that you are prepared for any kind of audition. At least costume vise!

Why it is important to know what to wear to an acting audition?

The main idea behind the audition is to find a perfect person who will fit the parameters of-of the character. Hence it becomes necessary that you have to not only act like the character but also look like the character. Following are the advantage of wearing a right Costume for the audition:

  • Once you look like the character your half of the battle is won. Casting assistant or the agent will be easily able to compare you to the character.
  • Another great advantage of wearing the right costumes for the audition is that it makes playing the part much easier. Somehow the costumes give you the right body language required for the part.
  • It will also show casting agents that you are a hardworking and professional actor. You have not just learned the lines and entered the audition room.

Be a professional actor and prepare for the audition as if you are preparing for a real project. See auditions as an opportunity to perform and not to impress.

So how do you choose what to wear to an acting audition?

Most of the time casting agents provide complete details of the character which also includes the costume. For such audition, follow what agency asks for.

But there is no detail on the costume, you can follow these steps:

# Step 1

Read the script 2-3 times and understand what your character is like. I advise reading the post How to develop character in acting. You will understand the process of developing the character in detail.

Build character worksheet

Once you know the script. Please note the following things:

  • Time: By time I not only mean the actual time of the day but what year, month and day. Fashion changes completely in 5-10 years. So even if the story, seems modern but it belongs to the early 2000’s you have to choose clothes which belong to that time period. And even the time of the day counts. Is it a morning scene, where you have just woke up, or is it afternoon where you are having lunch. Just observe your day, you will notice according to time, you clothes changes. So, keep those small things in mind.
  • Location: It is another big factor. Find out where does this scene actually take place for the character. Is it the character’s home or office or some restaurant. Everyone has an different attire for different location. At home, you may be in shorts or in your sweatpants. In the office, you may have a more formal look and so on.
  • Event: If the scene shows a specific event, such as date night, office meeting, award ceremony or funeral, character’s costume too changes. Not all scenes you will do in audition will have events but if there are then, choose your costume keeping that event in mind.
  • Financial status: In a simple script, this factor won’t be that bigger issue. However, there will be some scripts where your character will be either poor or filthy rich. If its so, your costume must show that. I am not saying if your character is filthy rich who wears diamond watches, so you get one. But at least choose an attire that makes you look rich even if you the brand you are wearing is not that expensive.
  • Hair & make up: Hair & makeup are also part of what you wear to an acting audition. So, do not do heavy make up or make your hair too shiny if your character lives in a trailer and doesn’t have a penny in the bank.

# Step 2

Now you know what kind of clothes your character wears, its time choose. As we struggle in day to day life with a choice of clothes, even with your character you will struggle.

You keep your “how good I look” ego aside, choose the right clothes for the character.

If a casual look is required avoid flashy colors like green, yellow and orange. And also avoid too basic colors like black and white. Only if casting agency or production has asked for specific colors to wear avoid them.

For girls, keep the jewelry to a minimum. Jewelry could sometime take the focus of your face.

# Step 3

Once you have decided what to wear to an acting audition, its time to add some nuances of the character into your clothing.

Let’s say your character is a slob, too lazy to even lift a finger, that attitude can be reflected in the clothes he wears. Maybe you can wear a shirt which is not pressed. One of the buttons is missing and even shirt may note properly tucked.

Or let’s say your character is well organized in life, then his or her clothing must reflect that. For him or her shirt may be well pressed. If using a jacket, the jacket must be neat and clean. Shoes should be shinning like a mirror so on.

These small nuances make a huge impact and could make you stand out from the crowd.

Its all about your creativity and imagination. Use yours to make the character interesting even if script feels hollow.

# Step 4

Practice scene or monologues with the costume, so that you are comfortable with the attire. It should not feel new to you. If something about the attire feels uncomfortable or out of place for you, see that if you can avoid that.

With practice, you will be able to speed up the above process of knowing what to wear to an acting audition. Just practice with few monologues or scenes at home and test your creativity to find the right or apt costumes for different characters.

What can you do to stay prepared for uncertain auditions?

What I mean by uncertain auditions, is that there will be certain auditions where you won’t have the script or time to go through the above process. Most of the walk-in auditions are like that, you will have no idea what to do. For those situations keep following things in mind:

Always keep different costumes with you, while going out for auditions. Try to cover all the bases. There are certain looks or costumes which are common.

  • Formal: formal jacket, formal shirt, tie, formal trouser, formal belt, formal shoes and a watch.
  • Casual: any t-shirt, jeans, casual shoes, cap and casual watch.
  • Outdoor: sweaters, jeans, wool shirts, jackets, track pants etc.

Always keep a small makeup kit which must include, compact powder, contouring kit, few different brushes.

Always keep this above-mentioned clothing and makeup kit in your audition bag. You never know what audition you might end up giving.

Make sure you have 1-2 monologues prepared and also the attire that goes with it. There will be auditions, where you be asked to perform anything of your choice. In such situation also, you will be ready with a piece and the costume to make maximum impact on those casting guys.

Are there auditions where you don’t have to choose the what to wear to an acting audition?

Yes, there are times when you don’t have to choose what to wear to an acting audition. These are mostly introduction auditions where you actually tell about yourself.

Mostly this type of auditions are taken by casting agencies to create a bank of actors. If any requirements come across their table they shortlist candidates based on introduction videos and then they call you for a proper audition.

In such introduction auditions you don’t have to worry about what you wear but yes, of course, you have to look decent enough to look good on camera.

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