Dear Friendly Neighborhood Actor's Coach,
Great advice from your last post on clothes for auditions! Can you also offer advice on how to determine the “dress code” for specific auditions. Are unifieds and agent auditions more formal (suits, dresses)? NY auditions are typically more casual?
(Name Removed for Privacy!)
I’ll do my best to answer it here, but it’s complicated. So, I’m always open to help in specific cases if people have questions or need feedback. The clothes choice matters and tells a story so it should be a planned part of ANY audition.
My rule is always: If a character from the show you are auditioning for stood in front of your closet, what would they pick to wear? For example when I was called in for Frankie in Jersey Boys, I wore my black suit because that’s what Frankie would wear. When I was called in for Pippin in Pippin, I wore a solid color t shirt and jeans because that’s what I felt he would wear. Mark in RENT - hoodie and jeans. And my glasses - because I look different in my glasses and since he always wears them, I thought it was important to show. I wasn’t trying to look like him, I was showing what I look like in glasses as I knew it would be a factor in casting. If it was the open call rather than an appointment specifically for him, I wouldn’t have worn them. I would wear the hoodie and jeans though. It’s what I had that showed I fit into the world of the show. More importantly it shows I understood how clothes impacted the character I was showing I had the life experience and understanding to play (see Uta Hagen’s explaining how sleeves impact how you drink tea - your hand is up not because of your posture and era, it’s because the clothes had elaborate sleeves you didn’t want in your tea - thus the lifted elbow.)
You should not be wearing a costume. Example: Girls wearing solid blue dresses to audition for Belle. That’s TOO on the nose. A blue top with a black skirt, cool. If you always wear a blue dress and you are auditioning for Belle, wear a cardigan over it or something. If you must have blue, I get it. It makes everyone look good and that’s why everyone wears it - hence the joke about knowing someone is a recent college grad because they wear either a blue shirt or a blue dress. If you must, just be really specific in the other choices you make - no blue ribbons in your hair. Wear your hair down and not in a pony tail, etc. Just don’t try to look like Belle.
General auditions (Unifieds, SETCs, UPTAs, A1s, etc) are slightly different as are college auditons. College auditions are at minimum a tucked in button down shirt for guys with dress pants and dress shoes - typically a solid color shirt (not white.) A tie is nice, but if the performer is not a tie person, it’s not worth it. It will make them look uncomfortable. They can up to a suit if they would like. It’s not required and should only be worn if they - like I said - know how. Girls wear the equivalent of that - dress or skirt with appropriate shoes. I always suggest to plan a sweater or a top with sleeves just in case it gets cold as most dresses girls choose don’t have that. I’ve seen everything from sweaters to denim jackets and to me it looks great. It’s a chance to show personality. Jewelry and hair bands are great for that too, just keep it professional. It’s not a senior voice recital. Think nice restaurant attire.
Agent auditions should be similar, but more laid back. They want to see the person they will be working with and clothes show that. They should be clean, ironed, and no “holes.” Jeans are fine as long as they are dressier. The look should have “intention” not, “I just had this and threw it on.” Headshots are a good guide for agent auditions. You don’t have to wear what is in the headshot, but it should be a similar vibe.
I think thats everything? Like I said, if anyone ever has a specific case and just wants a consult session or something, please don’t ever hesitate to ask. Clothes are important to the story. It’s another example of how auditioning is not just about the singing 🙂
Your Friendly Neighborhood Actor's Coach