The film and television industry is a business and must be treated like any other business. If a man applies for the job of corporate executive, he would wear the uniform of the executive to the interview: dark business suit, light colored dress shirt, power tie. If a woman applies for the job of yoga instructor, she would wear yoga pants and tank top to her meeting. If that same woman applies for the job of cocktail waitress at Hooters, she is definitely going to wear something low cut, as opposed to the outfit she wore to interview for the job of elementary school librarian. There are specific clothing norms or “uniforms” for every job or stage of life. The same is true for film and television. Every category of role has a uniform, which is basically the same whether commercial, film, or television. I’m sure you’ve noticed that every 30 something dad on television or in film wears the same plaid flannel shirt over a T-shirt. The executive professional wears a different uniform than the middle management professional which is also different from the blue-collar professional uniform. Do you know the difference? You should.
More importantly, you should know which one of those categories you fall into…and no, it’s not all three. If you truly want a career in film and television it is imperative that you know exactly who you are in the eyes of the industry. Know your honest realistic and specific Type, Brand, and Marketability. Once you have this information, it is your job to watch film and television and look for “yourself” and see how those actors are dressed. Not the leads, but the actors at your level, your age, your same marketability. Once you begin to see the pattern and understand your marketable uniforms, get those exact looks and have them in your closets clean pressed and ready to wear when you get the call. Whether the audition is for the middle management office worker, next-door neighbor, or doofus dad, you have the right clothes for the right image. You never again have to experience that “what am I going to wear?” panic when your agent calls, or be “that guy” ironing his pants on the kitchen floor ten minutes before his audition time.
Not only do you have to dress in your marketable uniforms for meetings and auditions, but you must wear those uniforms in your #1 marketing tool…headshots. With casting directors getting over 3000 submissions per role and the fact that they are looking at them as thumbnails, it is important that you target the categories of roles that you are right for by wearing the right clothing in your shots. If a CD is looking for a 20-year-old counter girl for a fast food commercial, she is not going to stop at a picture of a young woman in a black lace tank top with blown out hair and false eyelashes. She is going to call in the fresh-faced girl in the polo shirt with her hair pulled back in a ponytail. The right clothes present the right image.
But what about my individuality? How am I going to stand out if everyone is dressed the same? Easy answer: Your talent and your brand is what will set you apart. Of course there will be room to bring in your personal style with in the parameters of the marketable uniform. For example, if “quirky” is part of your Brand, you could substitute a blouse covered in cats for the usual white blouse under a cardigan for the 30 year old female office manager uniform.
Dress in the right clothing and they will see you in the part the moment you walk in the room...or, dress in whatever you want, and instead of concentrating on you and your audition, the people in that room are instead muttering to themselves, “What the %@#$ are you wearing?”