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What does a Wardrobe Supervisor do?

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What exactly does a Wardrobe Supervisor do? Let us delve into the baffling world of wardrobe and dig out some answers.

With a plethora of roles involved in theatre, film, and TV, it can be extremely confusing to know what it is everyone does.
There are so many different terms and job titles to get to grips with, it’s no wonder that they all begin to merge together.
Rather than list them all in one bewildering bubble,  we thought we would unravel the mystery step-by-step and describe each in turn.

As we’ve already explored the role of Costume Assistant in a previous article, we thought we would get stuck in with explaining the role of a Wardrobe Supervisor.

As you may have seen, costume and wardrobe roles are pretty vast and varied and tend to cover a lot of ground, as well as have a lot of crossovers between job titles.

Media-Match has provided a pretty good definition and use the useful format of splitting wardrobe into two departments.

Two types of wardrobe

So essentially, there’s the ‘making wardrobe’ which involves the design process and the pre-production stage and the ‘running wardrobe’ which focuses on looking after the wardrobe department once the production is ready to go.

Sometimes the role may be very similar to that of a Costume Supervisor; where responsibilities may include ensuring the costumes are in line with what the designer wants. This particular role involves making sure all of the aspects of costume, footwear and accessories have been catered for and have been bought in, made or hired – in keeping with the designer’s theme.

Part of their responsibilities may include overseeing the working wardrobe and ensuring everything is being made correctly, sticking to pre-set deadlines, as well as shopping for and hiring costumes in the right time frames.

In a larger department, it is more likely to see the Wardrobe Supervisor look after the department once all or most of the costume decisions have been made.

In this more commonplace scenario, the Wardrobe Supervisor manages the wardrobe, carrying out any last minute additional fittings and alterations on already made costumes and the general running of the department.

The wider role

Some of their responsibilities may include managing their team, allocating specific jobs or areas to different members, ordering underwear and performer’s ‘basics’, organising the laundry or maintenance schedule, allocating dressing rooms and areas, booking locals (dressers and stitchers) and looking after the costumes for a duration of a production.

As we mentioned before, there are so many frustrating similarities between the job roles and often people working in these departments end up doing things outside of their job description, swapping between several roles.

So, as a result, the exact job of a Wardrobe Supervisor is a hard one to define. And once again relies heavily on the type, size, and scale of a production, and the size of its budget.

Are you a wardrobe supervisor? We’d love to hear about your experience of the role. Leave a comment or get in touch.

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