Center Stage: Costuming

An actor rarely performs in clothes he chooses for himself.  A costume designer creates an outfit specifically for the role the actor is portraying.  We are all playing parts:  husband, wife, CEO, intern, lover, fighter… but are we choosing an appropriate costume?

Costumes are so important because they help the audience understand who each character is and how they relate to each other.  You must consider how the clothes you wear will be received and translated by your audience.   Your costume gives immediate information to everyone you meet about your character, your status, your mood, and your sense of self.  You are judged long before you ever utter a single word.

Center StageA great costume powerfully affects the actor’s ability to perform as a certain character.  Many actors will tell you that they didn’t truly become the role until they donned the costume.   Imagine how it must feel to put on the full Darth Vader suit …

You are the same way.  Dressing the part helps you play or even become the part.  You know the old adage “dress for success”… but you can take this to a whole new level. Don’t just dress to be successful; dress to be successful in a particular task or goal.

Additionally, how you dress impacts everyone around you, especially if you are a manager or seen as a leader.  Others will begin to dress like you.  I’ve seen this happen over and over.

Most people, men especially, don’t put that much time into how they dress.  Essentially, if you think you look good in it, you’ll  wear it.  Horrible idea.  You’ve made or lost that sale before you’ve mentioned the price.

Costuming in Business 101:

  • Get a costume designer… my wife will not let me leave the house in certain outfits
  • Out-dress your boss  – she or he will perceive your value higher
  • Every city has a dress code, if you travel, learn it and choose accordingly
  • Get a haircut
  • Good shoes are worth the investment
  • If you are over 25, then you shouldn’t be wearing anything you wore in college. It’s either too small, too plaid, or out of style… sometimes all three.

In business as in acting, it makes good sense to consciously choose your costume for the role you are playing.  Even if you balk at the idea of ‘acting,’ everyone you meet today is impacted by how you carry yourself.  You are already on a stage, it’s time to start acting like it…