There is a significant difference between a Costumer, Costume Designer, Wardrobe Stylist, Fashion Stylist, and Image Consultant. A Costumer works with the production team on movies and TV shows to create the vision of the costumes and the Costume Designer manifests the vision. The Wardrobe Stylist works hands-on with the actors who are wearing the costumes and the Fashion Stylist does the task of dressing the actor, accessorizing and sometimes tracking the inventory in the wardrobe department. A Wardrobe Stylist also works with private clients editing, curating and styling their clothing choices. The term “wardrobing” means to manage the wardrobe requirements of a project, whether it is film, television, stage or theatre. The Wardrobe Stylist works with the Costume Designer, the Wardrobe Manager, the production crew, and others.
In general, the Wardrobe Stylist is supplied with directives for fashion coordination from the Wardrobe Manager or the head Costumer. Depending on the budget you may also be supplied with a story line or design brief from the Costumer. The design brief can include photographs of ideas, fabric swatches, color palettes, notes about the characters, notes about the scenes, the location, the story and other pertinent details that will help the Costumer create the outfits and costumes the actors wear to represent their characters.
Much of the work the Wardrobe Stylist does is a team effort. S/he works closely with the Costume Designer (or clothing designer), the art director, the photographers and the stylists that are on set (or on project). His/her people skills have to be professional and diplomatic. Since styling for a project is always a team effort, employing multiple creative types, the Wardrobe Stylist needs to be able to negotiate egos and personalities well.
It’s important to know the hierarchy and the job description before you begin, so always check with the set, stage and costume designers for their input before you start work on the project.
You will be asked to supply costumes from wardrobe that fit a particular scene or storyline so it is important you know the inventory. Most costume departments keep very careful records not just about their inventory, but also about when certain styles were worn, by whom and for what purpose. The career tracks of Fashion Styling and Wardrobe Styling can, of course, have overlapping skills and techniques. A Fashion Stylist can and does process wardrobe styling for clients and a Wardrobe Stylist can and does work with celebrity and personal clients on their personal style.
For the purposes of our online training courses we call a Wardrobe Stylist someone who manages the wardrobe, owned by an individual client or a corporate client, such as a movie studio, a fashion retailer, fashion designer, or photographer.