Building Your Actor’s Wardrobe on a Budget

Building a wardrobe for auditions is important, but it doesn’t have to break the bank! You likely have pieces in your closet that you already wear for most of your auditions or callbacks, but let’s take a look at my general list of clothing items I think every actress should have in her closet.

-white or off-white button-down shirt (though this now makes me think of La La Land and the hilarious audition mishap scene)

-a little black dress

-a jean jacket (dress up your jean jacket with fun vintage brooches)

-dark wash jeans

-black slacks

-quality tee shirts

-a couple of skirts; at least one business skirt (I love a good pencil skirt) and one fun, flirty skirt (not too short!)

-a button down in your signature color

-black and brown leggings

-one set of decent athletic clothes (I just had two commercial submissions last week asking that I wear yoga clothes)

-tights- black and nude

In addition to these foundational pieces, you should have some clothes that suggest your typecast. I audition for quite a few quirky, romantic roles (I have twice auditioned for character described as New Girl-esque), so I’ve got two polka dot sweaters. If you’re more of a badass type (and if so, I’m super jealous), I’d have a leather jacket on hand.

There are certain looks you should be able to recreate at the drop of a hat. Though might not look like “Corporate America”, you should have a blazer and dress pants. You never know when someone will be looking for background or featured extras, but need someone who can provide their own wardrobe (I did a photoshoot for meetup.com when I lived in NYC and in the audition submission, they gave a list of wardrobe pieces and asked us to circle the items and let them know what we had.) Even if you don’t want to do extra work, it is fun to do every once in a while and can pay pretty well.

I always look for ways to spice up the neutrals, as well. As I mentioned above, remember that scene in La La Land. Everyone was wearing a white button-down. Think about ways you can stand up, in subtle ways. Like I said, adding some vintage brooches to your jean jacket might be just the ticket to help you set yourself apart. Or finding a solid tee-shirt with a sweet pocket or different colored collar.

Now, how about building up your wardrobe on a budget? Well, the answer is simple, and eco-friendly: shop secondhand.

If you’re in a major city, you might already be a thriftaholic. When I loved in NYC, I loved checking out local vintage and thrift stores. When I moved to the middle of nowhere, the treasure hunt at our local stores wasn’t always very rewarding, so I started looking at Poshmark. If you don’t love the thrill of the hunt, Poshmark is a great way to shop secondhand hassle-free.

I try to stock my Poshmark closet with the essentials I listed above, and I keep a mix of affordable options and higher-quality brands. Poshmark is also a great way to get rid of the clothes you already have, make some pocket change, and even learn a little about marketing. Check it out using the code GRACABELCOCO for a $5 credit.

OTHER RESOURCES:

This book is amazing for building your wardrobe in general, not just auditioning. And the illustrations are amazing!

The Acting Studio of Chicago has a great article about wardrobe essentials for men, as well as women.

If you’ve got another job, check out my bestie Mel’s blog post about the working girl’s wardrobe.

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