Some of the greatest acting performances of all time are associated with what the character was wearing. For example, Vivienne Leigh will forever be remembered in the green velvet outfit that she wore as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. Judy Garland will forever be remembered in her ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. And Antonio Banderas is simply not Zorro without the black mask. However, it can be confusing for an actor when it comes to auditioning. If you are going for a particular role should you dress the part in your audition?
The answer to that is really yes … and no. It is a tricky line that you have to walk, but you do want to dress the part. However, you also do not want to look as though you are wearing a costume. There are many actors out there who do not walk this line successfully. They are the ones that you see at auditions that look like they are ready to head out to a Halloween costume party. Unfortunately for them, dressing in a costume simply distracts the casting director rather than helping to enforce your performance.
Instead, you want to incorporate some elements of your potential character into your appearance subtly. The way that you do this is to think about who your character is. What is their background? What are their tastes? Once you have answers to those questions you can begin to put together your audition outfit.
The key to dressing the part is to do so subtly. You want to pay attention to the silhouette of the time period or a characters signature color. For example, if you are auditing for a woman in a piece that is set in the 1940s, you will want to steer clear of very modern clothes. Rather, you want to choose pieces that would be found in the silhouettes of that time period. A great option would be a simple black pencil skirt, white collard blouse, pearls, and a great set of red pumps. This is an outfit that you could easily wear on the street today so you will not look like you are wearing a costume, but it also lends itself instantly to the 1940s.
Sometimes doctors and casting managers have difficulty envisioning what hair and makeup can do. If you can dress in a way that helps them see you in their upcoming project it may increase the likelihood of you ending up as part of the cast. Sometimes wearing the part is as simple as dressing in a suit, wearing your hair in an up-do or wearing the right color of lipstick.
It is not always possible to dress in a way that might suit the character that you are auditioning for. When this happens, it is important that you dress like an actor. You want to look put together, attractive, neutral, but with something to remember you by. For example, maybe you dress in all black, but have a great pair of colored shoes on or a hair accessory that is designed to catch the director's eye. Chances are, the director is going to be seeing a lot of people through the day, and your colorful accent may become what you are known as. The important thing is to be remembered, and if a purple tie is what will get you remembered then it is the right way to go.