A dresser is in charge of the costumes worn by actors during stage, movie or television performances or tapings. As part of the wardrobe department, she makes sure all wardrobes are in good condition and readily available for quick changes during production. Her job requires her to assist actors in changing costumes during a performance by helping them in and out of clothing, jewelry, shoes and accessories.
Good communication skills are important for a dresser, as she has to listen carefully to what each actor’s needs are and fulfill them by coordinating with other staff members and outside sources. Although she does not normally create costumes like the costume designer, she has to have good sewing and pressing abilities to maintain and repair the costumes. Excellent organizational skills enable her to store and organize costumes in an orderly manner so they are readily available during performances. A dresser needs to have a good eye for color, style and fashion history to assemble outfits that accurately depict the different eras of the stories being told.
Before a production has its first dress rehearsal, a dresser must meet with the wardrobe supervisor and director to finalize the list of costumes required by each actor. The dresser is required to obtain costumes or accessories that are not in stock. If she has to purchase materials, she is required to get budget approval from a producer or other authorized personnel before doing so. Her job includes physically helping actors change clothes and accessories in-between scenes. At the conclusion of the show, she is expected to make sure all the costumes are returned and cleaned before being put back into storage.
Since theater, television and film productions are typically shot during odd hours, a dresser can expect to have an erratic schedule as well. She is required to work both indoors and outdoors, and must withstand different types of weather. Her job is usually fast-paced, so a high level of energy is required. Patience and composure are required to calmly deal with a wide range of personalities in a frequently chaotic atmosphere.
Most employers prefer dresser job applicants to have completed courses in theater production or have two years related experience in costume design, dressing actors or other creative capacities. In some cases, dressers can receive on-the-job training. Some aspiring dressers enhance their resumes by volunteering at local or community theaters.
Salary and Advancement Opportunities
Promotions to positions such as wardrobe coordinator, wardrobe supervisor, costume designer or production designer are frequently available to dressers. These opportunities greatly depend on the size and stability of the company for which she works. According to http://www.simplyhired.com, the average salary in the United States in June 2010 for dressers was $22.000.