While I do not pretend to be a fashion plate myself, I am going to make some comments about fashion – especially for young women wanting acting careers.
When I was at the O’Neil (National Theatre Institute in Connecticut), they told us to always dress a little more conservatively than any current fashion norm. This is 1983. I don’t know how well I got it then but I definitely get it now.
- If you’re too fashionable we cannot see you in a role that is not in this particular time and place.
- If you’re too fashionable, you may be wearing clothing that makes you less grounded when you’re auditioning.
- If you’re too fashionable, you may be wearing necklaces, piercings or scarves that distract us.
- If you’re too fashionable, you may be wearing clothing that is too revealing. You need to make sure they are watching your acting not thinking about your body. (Last week I saw three women whose thongs were clearly showing through their gauzy see-through skirts. Fine for your boyfriend – pretty bad for a casting director.)
Even when you’re not auditioning, take a look at the trend and:
- See what message it’s giving.
Ex. Mini-dresses. Love them – especially the well-tailored styles reminiscent of the 60’s. What do I see today? Young women wearing floral print mini dresses that make them look like Mormon women who cut their dress off too high on their thighs. The dresses look like they should be on kewpie dolls. Most of all, they INFANTILIZE the women wearing them. This is what bothers me most. It doesn’t look feminine. It actually infantilizes them. Be a woman – not a child.
Ex. Nose rings. Used by farmers to chain one pig to another. Sorry, I can’t get past that.
Ex. The “hippy” look. Great. Love it. Wear it on the weekends. It still looks like you’re going to be too stoned, too touchy-feely, too much of a free spirit to care about getting down to work. Believe me! You’ve got to look like you’re serious. And eough with the bare feet – you’re not proving anything except that you bought some bad acting teacher’s desire to have you look like creative spirits but wasn’t interested in actually developing your creative skills.
2. Find the version of the trend that is fashionable but makes you look great.
Ex. If super high heels are the trend but you are 5 feet tall, wear a version of the heel that is proportionate with your body and legs. Sometimes wearing a slightly more conservative version of the style is the difference between looking silly and gorgeous.
3. Ask yourself if YOUR best assets are enhanced by the trend. If not, remember you’re an actress – you don’t have to be fashionable. You do have to look great, professional and appropriate for the event, the role, the time period or environment in which you’re going to be working.