Thinking about having costumes built for your show?

What do I want to spend?Man in the Moon  - Mame

Budget is usually the biggest concern in show construction.  Broadway shows are Broadway shows because of their budgets.  We know that Broadway budgets only exist on Broadway.  We have competitive rates, high quality products, and a very knowledgeable staff.  The options include building the whole cast, just principles, just one scene, one character's costumes, or even one item.  Budget will determine much of that.  Every concern you may have will return to budget.  Knowing your budgetary limitations going into construction will save a lot of trouble in the long run.

How period accurate do I want to be?

There are many considerations in building a period show.  The first question that you must ask yourself is: how many costume changes are my cast members going to have to make?  If the answer is none then there is less to worry about.  Period accurate costumes require time to put on.  Whether Renaissance, where everything must be laced or buttoned on, or Turn of the Century, which requires many layers, changing time could prove challenging.  Next, think about how close your audience will be to the stage.  Inappropriate closures, i.e. zippers in Renaissance dresses, are easily seen in an intimate setting.  Lastly, think of your actors.  Is your theater outdoors?  Are there many steps in the set design?  What choreography is there in the dance scene?  All of these issues must be considered.  Can the actor do what he/she needs to do in the costume you have planned?

What costumes do I need for my production?  How can I cut budget?

We can give you many options in building costumes for your stock, building costumes for you to rent, or building pieces of the show you need.  Re-read your script looking for specific costume requirements.  Are there any hard to find specific costumes?  Think about where you want to spend the money.  Are there any changes you can or want to cut?  Could one outfit be used more than once?  Are there any quick changes?  There are pieces which can be used to change the overall appearance of a garment.  Rather than planning for a whole costume change, perhaps adding a coat or overlay would work just as well.  This is also an excellent way to cut down time in quick changes instead of changing the whole outfit.

Pink Edwardinan or Turn of the Century dress with parasolSame pink dress with bolero, skirt drape, and black belt

What color palate am I working with?

Before planning the colors of your costumes, think about the groups or families of the show. Do you want the Montagues in all blue tones, the Capulets in reds? Dance Partners or Couples matched by color? Does the Villain always wear black? Color can be a means of identifying characters. The three women of Corinth from "Medea" or a group of dancers can be identified for program credit by color. Color can have a great influence on the feeling of your show.  Some
color choices can be affected by the availability of fabrics. Certain fabrics are hard to locate out of season, there are more pastels in the spring and plaids can be hard to find at all times.

Other limitations and styles
Mazeppa - GypsyBrunhilda
You also need to keep in mind where the costume is going to be used.  Scantly clad may not be appropriate for high schools, but  fully covered just doesn't work for Mazeppa in "Gypsy". The intended audience can also affect the needs of the costume. Thinking about it now can save having to replace a costume later.

Ideas and Sketches

Now is also a good time to think about special function requirements. Do you need a hidden pocket for a wireless mike? Does it need to be built in layers so they can be removed a layer at a time?
Eliza Dolittle - Flower GirlHello Dolly - Harmonia GardensKing and I - Dance Number

I need animal type costumes for my show

We can also build the animals needed for your show. It is important to consider the needed actions for the animal character and what limits will be  imposed by the costume of your animal character. While in the costume of the Caterpillar for "Alice in Wonderland", the actor can not walk, but can inch worm his way offstage. Humpty Dumpty needs wide clearances and shallow stairs.

We're performing outdoors. Can my costumes be made cooler?
EeyoreKangaRoo (played as a girl)RabbitPiglet
For the production of "Winnie the Pooh" the temperature was expected to be in the 110° range, all the animal character were created as overlays. The head of each animal as built on a cap so the actor could breath freely.

OwlBuild to Rent or Keep ?

The world of community and high school theatre is constantly challenged by small budgets.  Having worked primarily with these groups since Costumes by Dusty opened, our staff is used to adapting show costumes to budget constraints.  With this in mind, the option to have your show built but remain in Dusty's stock after the show closes is an option.  On the other hand, if you know you will perform a Renaissance show every year, think about keeping the costumes.  The initial investment may pay off over the long run.  This can also be a gradual process, buying a few costumes each year until you are happy with your stock.  Discuss these options with your budgeting staff and our staff to decide which would be best for you.

What do I do now ?Winnie the Pooh

Firstly, figure out your budget.  Remember that it is the key piece of information in show building.  Next, reread you script.  Is there anything you missed the first few times you read it.  (Think about your blocking, will it change any of the costumes you want?  Are there any special requirements for any of the characters?)  Then schedule your initial meeting.  Remember that there can be a combination of newly built and stock costumes in your show.  Lastly, take a deep breath and calm down, the process may be stressful, but look forward to the beauty of a production you will have on opening day.