Monthly Archives: January 2015

Dress for Your Image: Thoughts from a Hollywood Costume Designer

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Dress for Your Image

Thoughts from a Hollywood Costume Designer

I’ve discussed before: people “judge” us (and form a lasting impression about us) within the first 7-seconds of observing how we dress, our outward appearance, and our body language.

As a former model and cable network anchor, I remember all the clothing changes we went through to make sure our clothing presented the image they wanted to send. And even then, it wasn’t good enough as modeling pictures were always Photoshopped!

I’ve worked with politicians, stay-at-home-moms, and business women to change a few things about what they wear to present a specific outward image — or personal brand – based exclusively on what they’re wearing and how they use their body language.

Much of it is subconscious. Some of it is obvious!

And if people still don’t agree that how we dress matters, think about why Hollywood spends so much time and effort in costume design. A costume designer is hired specifically to use wardrobe selection to support the character’s personality as well as the entire story. This is an example we can all learn from!

Girls’ Costume Designer (Jenn Rogien) explains why they made sure one character (Hannah) dressed in ill-fitting clothing:

How Hannah Horvath will Dress on Girls this season

Lena Dunham (Hannah Horvath) in ‘Girls.’
Photo: Via HBO’s ‘Girls’ Facebook page

“…we were paying a lot of attention to reflecting how scattered Hannah was very much through the fit of her clothes. And sometimes that was reflected in a hem length: too short, too long, hit at an awkward place on the leg or we’d play with or drop the waist line to make them hit at not quite the right places, that literally just looks rumpled and off. And on top of that we would also not do very much craft of the costume that would go into the trim. So not a lot of steaming, not a lot of ironing.

So, if we want people to think we’re ‘scattered’, dress in ill-fitting clothing that isn’t ironed. So now we know “what not to wear”!

In addition to clothing, hair styles will determine not only the outfit, but the whole “vibe” of a person, too:

“I was much more careful about earrings because they could either become distracting or so much part of the look that it became overwhelming. With Shoshanna’s hair, her long hair was often up and when her hair was shorter you could still see her ears so it was just more about her whole jewelry look overall. A hairstyle or haircut is part of the whole look and it definitely informs fashion choices.

Or, an outfit can reflect an “all over the place feeling”:

Jessa is starting this season with choices thrust upon her and she’s not quite sure how to deal with them and her wardrobe definitely reflects that — the long dress or gown worn in the daytime. There’s just a little bit more of an all over the place feeling that we haven’t really seen. She wore these great gowns and weird ensembles…

We need to dress in outfits that are specific for the occasion. No full-length ball gowns in the daytime, club-wear at the office, or exercise outfits at an elegant restaurant for starters.

Since Hollywood spends so much time and effort on “what to wear”, doesn’t it make sense that what we wear matters, too?

How do you feel about what you (or others) wear? Does it effect your image, income, or mental state? Please comment below!


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