Login Now || Register for Free!
home> units> Technical Theatre Design> Costume Design

Costume Design


Students will demonstrate anunderstanding of costume design theories and practices by completing two character designs, including a paragraph justifying their color and style choices.

Materials Needed

A variety of male and female costumes, accessories, and shoes, body outline handout, fabric (or construction paper) of different colors, 4 white board markers

Related Documents

Lesson Directions

Anticipatory Set/Hook

Prepare by dividing the white board into 4-5 columns (depending on the number of fabric samples you have).  Number each column. Instruct students that you will be holding up different colors of fabric, and that you have 4 whiteboard markers.  When you hold up the fabric, any four students may come grab a marker and write a word or short phrase that they feel describes that color, the emotions it embodies, etc.  Only 4 students may write something, and each student may only come up once.  They need to write their responses in the coordinating column.  Ask them to describe the instructions in their own words.  Conduct the activity.


Step 1:  Discussion.  Discuss the responses for each column.  Ask students to justify what they have written.  Ask if any students disagree and to justify their opinion.  Discuss how color can effect our impression of a character. Costume designers have the responsibility to communicate information about the character and the play in general through the clothing of the actors. 


Step 2:  Transition.  Ask for a student to act as scribe (or do a graffiti wall).  Ask students to list what other responsibilities that they feel a costume designer might have.  (design costumes, measure cast member, read the script, interpret the script for design, pull costumes, buy fabric/costumes, research the period.  Generally speaking, they do not build costumes)


Step 3:  Discussion.  Quickly, review this list, and add to it where needed, if students missed anything.  Let’s talk first about pulling costumes.  When putting together a characters costumes, what kinds of things would you need, what articles of clothing (shoes, accessories, hats?, clothes). 


Step 4:  Group Practice.  Instruct students that they will be assembling a costume from pieces that you will be providing.  Have them get into groups of 4.  Instruct them that after you uncover the table they will have 5-10 (you decide) minutes to put together ONE (1) costume.  They may choose one member to be the model.  They must be able to tell us who the character is and why they chose those pieces.  Ask them to repeat back instructions in their own words.  Uncover the costumes and give them time to assemble their character.


Step 5:  Discussion.  At the end of the allotted time, have the models come to the front of the class.  You may choose to have the models or their group introduce them, or have the class guess what they are.  Discuss the choices made for each group costume and if they worked and why.


Step 6:  Transition/Instruction.  Discuss how some of the choices they made communicated very specific things about the characters they choose.  In the process of costumes design, designers pull much of their information from the actual script and from the director’s concept, but the script is their major source of information.  All of them have read scripts before, ask them to list what kinds of information they find in a script that would affect costumes worn in the show (i.e. time period, gender, age, time of day, weather, season, location, activity, span of time, emotional status of the character, socioeconomic status, sometimes there are specific instructions (in Chekov’s The Seagull you know that Masha always wears black because another character asks her “Why do you always wear black.”)). 


Step 7:  Transition/Individual Practice.  Let’s review the information we have.  We know what a costume designer is responsible for doing, where they get information and what kind of information for designing the costumes, and how colors can communicate information about the character.  The style of clothing worn also communicates a great deal about a character.  Have students pull out a piece of paper.  On the TV you will be showing them pictures of different styles of clothing.  For each image, they need to describe in a few words what they are wearing and then write at least three sentences describing what this style tells about them (Are they social?  What do they value?  What time period do they live in?  What are their major emotions?  Where do they live?  What activities do they participate in?  Look to the ideas listed above in step 6).  As a class, go through the images, and have three students share some of their comments.  Ask them to justify what they wrote from what they saw.


Step 8:  Individual Practice. Again, let’s review what we know about responsibilities, information, colors, and styles.  Using these tools, students will complete the following assignment.  You will pass out the Body Outline Worksheet.  On one side is a female and a male on the other.  They will need to select a play, book, or movie that they are familiar with, and then select one male and one female character from the same play/book/movie.  They will need to complete a color rendering of costumes they would design or were designed for these characters.  On the side, they need to write a paragraph justifying what they chose color and style wise and what it communicates.  This will be due at the beginning of next class period.  You may choose to give them the remainder of class to work on the project.


Closure:  Ask students to each pick up a few items of the costumes and follow you into the costume shop.  They will neatly put away everything, clothes on hangers, shoes in boxes, etc.  Direct them where necessary.  Upon returning to the classroom take a few minutes to discuss the real world implications of what you have discussed.  How does what they wear communicate about them.  When they go to a job interview, what kind of “costume” should they put on, etc.  Remind them to bring their completed color designs with one paragraph justification for each design.  Collect their writings on the images.


Students will be assessed on their participation, the image writings, and their costume design and justification. 

Author's Notes

Preparation:  put the costumes on a table in a central location and cover with a piece of fabric.  Don’t allow students to touch it or uncover it.

User Comments

No User Comments

Any changes, additions, or links that don't work--please let the site administrator know.