Head of Wardrobe

Get insights from Head of Wardrobe Tim Gradwell

“On a day-to-day basis, the Wardrobe Department is basically there to maintain the costumes, to sort the laundry and to run the show – to do the quick changes, to pre-set costumes.”

Tim Gradwell


Managing the Wardrobe Department, which varies depending on the size and scale of a production, supervising the work of a team of Wardrobe Assistants and Dressers


  • Liaising with the Costume Supervisor and/or Designer regarding changes or alterations to costumes
  • Working with Stage Management to prepare dressing rooms and pre-set costumes
  • Instructing Dressers with regard to actors’ change of costumes, supervising quick changes where necessary
  • Maintaining costumes, including laundry

Key Skills

  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Good communication, especially listening
  • Attention to detail and good memory
  • Ability to effectively delegate work
  • Calmness under pressure and patience

Further Reading

  • Stage Costume – Step-by-Step by Mary T Kidd, 2002
  • Costume and Make-Up by Michael Holt, 1988


Vocational training in Costume is on offer at many drama schools and some traineeships are available with larger theatre companies. However, many people working in Wardrobe Departments begin by working voluntarily in local theatres, progressing from Dresser to Wardrobe Assistant.

Skills are developed on-the-job while gaining useful industry contacts – Designers, Costume Supervisors, Production Managers – which are vital for securing future work. Some people seek additional specialist training, for example in tailoring and millinery, to increase their skills-base and employability. 


Other courses are available. Those above represent a sample from various drama schools and universities.