Pulling up to a gorgeous countryside mansion Wednesday morning, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was ultimately surprised by the kindness I was shown on set. I was introduced to the world of production. I didn’t realize how much behind the scenes work a production had. I was impressed by the organization of each individual department.
Some tricks and tips I learned would be as followed: 1) Organization is key, 2) Break down the shoot to the last possible detail so you now exactly what you’re using, 3) Story boards help you remember those details if you forget 4) Write yourself notes throughout the day, 5) Create a timeline of the day so you stay on track.
To be a good wardrobe assistant, you have to be able to communicate well with everyone you work with. You also have to be able to think quickly on your feet. Another necessary trait is being comfortable and confident when getting the talent ready. Technically speaking, it is really helpful to know how to use an iron and a steamer! I learned that you should always be cautious of the fabric you are ironing because you do not want to burn the clothes. Also, make sure you steam clothing from the inside out because it makes it easier for removing harder wrinkles and creases. Other tools we used on set were your basic pair of scissors so we could remove tags without ripping or tearing the clothes.
Depending on the location of the shoot, I would try to wear something comfortable that you can easily move around in, but you also have to be professional & presentable. I would bring with me anything I think I could potentially need on set; water, phone charger, jacket, etc.
My main contacts were the heads of each department; production, wardrobe, and photography. I spent the day with another wardrobe assistant who really helped me understand what it is like to be an assistant. She showed me how to take control of the room and remain focused while talent would come in when the senior stylist was not present. The senior stylist even mentioned, “To be a good assistant you have to learn how to control the space when I am not here”, and that is exactly what she did. I was very impressed.
The room where we worked had to be organized at all times because at some points we would have 5 or more extra people around, which made it easy for the room to become cluttered. We arranged the clothing racks by lining them against the walls. The stylist then separated the clothes for each individual shoot. The stylist picked her favorite outfits and placed them in front of the other clothes, which would be looked at for approval. When styling for multiple people its always good to have 3-4 back ups in case the clothes don't fit or look right for the shoot. Another way to keep the clothes organized was once the tags were removed we would place them into envelopes where the information about the clothing was written on the front (size, brand, color, price etc). This made it easier to clean up after each shoot because then we weren't searching for tags. The receipts were kept organized by store and brand. Once we re-tagged the clothes that were returnable it was easier to put the clothing back into the correct bags.
To be a wardrobe assistant or even a stylist, you have to have a good eye for what works well together. You also have to understand the look that the company or person is going after. Another trait would be that you have to be able to listen and take direction, because when you are starting out there are a lot of different things thrown at you, so you have to have some guidance to understand how everything works. Every good stylist has a kit, and for mine? I would have baby wipes, scissors, tape, nipple covers, safety pins, duct tape, a small sewing kit, glasses wipes, pens, a small pad of paper, makeup remover wipes. Just to name a few.
At the end of the day I was thoroughly impressed by all the hard work I had seen throughout the shoot. I even made my first appearance on set as a “fill in” which was exciting yet nerve-wracking. All in all, I have never been surer of the type of career I want to pursue. It was such a humbling experience. I am honored to have gotten to meet and work with such wonderful people.
Words by Lauren Herwig
Find out more about Lauren on her blog!