Life of a Dancer

Costume Designer


  • Costume designers are involved with every stage of costume production
  • Work on many different kinds of productions, such as films, plays, ballets, ice skating shows, circuses and commercials
  • Meet with the directors, actors and producers to discuss the theme, budget and costume ideas
  • Research about the time period and location that the production is to set in
  • Make educated guesses about what people will wear in the future
  • Create sketches of costume ideas and decide on what fabrics should be used
  • Cut and sew the costumes together
  • Decide on any accersories
  • Fit costumes to the actors and make any necessary adjustments


  • There are no formal education requirements for costume designers, but completing university or college program in drama or theater is highly recommended
  • You should also earn at least a bachelors degree, because it is often required when working with large production companies
  • A Masters of Fine Arts degree can give you a competitive edge in the industry and help your reputation as a designer
  • Courses in history, drama, theater technology, art history, and fashion design are also helpful when looking for a job in costume design
  • You will also need designing and sewing skills, have an eye for color, work well with your hands, pay attention to detail and be very creative
  • To gain experience as a costume designer, you can take unpaid positions with low budget companies


  • Costume designer's income greatly depends on the number of productions they work on and the budget of those productions
  • For example, someone who designs costumes for famous actors in a large, expensive movie, would be payed a lot more than someone working on a low budget film
  • Costume designers who work on television or movie sets can make $500 to $20,000 every production, depending on their reputation and the budget of the project they are working on
  • If costume designers are paid per costume, they can make anywhere from $100 per piece if it is very simple or over $1000, if it is a more complex costume
  • In general, people in the costume designing field make between $20,000 and $70,000 a year, but people at the top of this field can make up to $100,000 every year!

Famous Canadian: Simon Chang

  • Simon Chang is a famous women's fashion designer
  • He was born in China, raised in Vancouver, BC and he currently lives in Montreal
  • Simon first became interested in fashion through the costumes in films and began to follow the careers of movie wardrobe designers
  • He studied graphic design and photography at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, under a full scholarship from the Hudson Bay Company
  • In the early 1970's, Simon moved to Montreal and began his career as a fashion co-coordinator for the Bay department store
  • Then he started designing his own collections
  • After deciding to work in the field of women's fashion, he created over 300 women's wear collections
  • In 2008, he was honored with the Order of Canada medal, by Governor General Michaelle Jean, for his contributions to the fashion industry