What does the Head of Wardrobe do?

The Head of Wardrobe is responsible for overseeing all aspects of implementing the costume design, as well as the creation and maintenance of the costumes. This role involves managing the wardrobe department, coordinating with Designers and Directors, and ensuring that costumes meet the artistic vision of the production while being functional and well-maintained.

What are the main responsibilities of the Head of Wardrobe?

  • Collaborate with Costume Designer to create and finalise costume designs that align with the their vision
  • Coordinate costume fittings with Actors to ensure proper fit and comfort
  • Supervise the production of costumes, including cutting, sewing, and assembling garments
  • Oversee the wardrobe department, including managing a team of Costume Assistants, Dressers, and other wardrobe staff
  • Organise and maintain costume storage, ensuring costumes are properly labelled, stored, and easily accessible
  • Develop and manage the wardrobe budget, including tracking expenses and ordering supplies
  • Ensure that all costumes are cleaned, repaired, and maintained throughout the run of the production
  • Conduct regular inspections of costumes to check for any damage or wear and tear
  • Implement and oversee a system for quick costume changes during performances
  • Attend production meetings to stay informed about the overall vision and any changes that may affect the wardrobe
  • Participate in technical rehearsals to ensure costumes function as intended and make necessary adjustments
  • Work closely with the stage management team to coordinate costume changes and manage backstage logistics
  • Ensure that all wardrobe practices comply with health and safety regulations
  • Conduct risk assessments for wardrobe-related activities and implement safety protocols as needed
  • Maintain clear communication with costume designers, directors, and other departments to ensure alignment and address any issues promptly
  • Serve as a point of contact for Actors regarding costume-related inquiries and concerns
  • Keep detailed records of costume inventories, including measurements, alterations, and any changes made during the production
  • Document costume designs, fabric samples, and construction notes for future reference

What qualifications do I need to work in the wardrobe department?

While you do not need a degree for this role, here are some useful subjects and courses that could help you get a head start in the industry:

  • Costume Design
  • Fashion
  • Dressmaking
  • Pattern Cutting
  • Textiles

Search training opportunities in costume to help you get into theatre here

What skills do I need to work as Head of Wardrobe?

  • Strong knowledge of costume design principles and techniques
  • Proficiency in sewing, pattern-making, and garment construction
  • Experience in managing a team, including assigning tasks and providing guidance
  • Ability to manage multiple projects and deadlines effectively
  • Meticulous attention to detail in costume creation, fittings, and maintenance
  • Ability to identify and address potential costume issues before they become problems
  • Excellent communication skills to work effectively with designers, directors, actors, and other departments
  • Ability to collaborate and contribute to a cohesive production vision
  • Strong problem-solving skills to address costume-related challenges quickly and efficiently
  • Resourcefulness in finding creative solutions to costume issues
  • Strong organisational skills to manage costume inventories, budgets, and schedules
  • Ability to maintain an orderly and efficient wardrobe department

Always keep examples of your previous work. Read our blog 'How to make a costume design portfolio.'

What does a career as Head of Wardrobe look like?

You can gain experience in costume design, costume making and wardrobe management through work experience and apprenticeships, or even through a casual Dresser role. You may start as a Wardrobe Assistant and move into more senior roles such as Wardrobe Master/Mistress, Costume Supervisor and then becoming the Head of Wardrobe. Read our blog  'What does a Costume Maker do?'

How much can the Head of Wardrobe earn?

Grade 1 rates for 2023-2025 as per the SOLT/BECTU Agreement suggests a minimum weekly rate of £840.91 for Head of Wardrobe. On average, the Head of Wardrobe will earn around £30-£50k per year. 

The above is a guide. Pay, salary or fee can vary depending on the theatre or company, as well as your personal experience. National institutions or commercial productions can pay in excess of the above, with profit-share or community theatre paying less. 

You can find theatre jobs via The Stage Jobs here 


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