When it comes to theatre productions, whether they be a school play or a West End performance, it’s very often the costumes that help make the show. Costumes can range from the very simple to the incredibly complex, but they all help tell the story. However elaborate the costumes may be, one thing that is consistent across most productions are costume issues. The team at Promo Props and Costumes have experienced the full spectrum of costume catastrophes. Below we highlight some of the most common costume problems and how to handle them.

Common Costume Problems

Ripped or Damaged Costumes

Damage to costumes always seems to be spotted at the last minute just before the performer is due on stage! The most important thing to do in this situation is to stay calm. While people around you may be panicking, if your job is to fix the costume, you need to keep a level head and work quickly.

An emergency repair kit is a must-have for every production. This needs to be kept in a spot that allows easy retrieval should a costume disaster arise. Your repair kit should contain the following items;

  • Gaffer tape – Not a long term solution but perfect when there is only time for a last-minute quick fix
  • Safety Pins – A good selection of sizes
  • Needles and Thread – If you have space try and include several thread colours to cover all eventualities
  • Scissors – Ideally small, sharp and easy to handle
  • Seam Rippers – Include a few as they have a habit of vanishing
  • Buttons – A wide selection of colours, sizes and shapes
  • Temporary, adjustable hem tape

It’s always a good idea to have spare belts, gloves and hats and anything else that the performers may put down and forget.

If your costumes have any delicate pieces, then keep spares to hand in case an item is damaged or broken.

The Performers Don’t Link The Costumes

You can’t please all of the people all of the time, and this is especially true in costume design. What one performer may love another may hate, and this can cause backstage issues.

The key point here is to find out why the performer dislikes the costume. Is it uncomfortable? Does it restrict movement? Do they hate the appearance? Do they disagree with how it fits into the production?

Once you understand the reasons behind their view, you can typically reach a compromise. Different accessories can be used to complement the costume. If the issue is with the fit, then adjustments can be made if there is time.

Of course, sometimes a firm hand is needed, and if the role calls for a particular costume to worn, then this needs to be communicated to the performer.

The Backstage Area is a Mess

If a production requires a number of costume changes or if you’re operating in a small area, then backstage can quickly start to resemble a teenager’s bedroom. Costumes and accessories are discarded and can become mixed up and damaged.

Organisation is key, and it’s essential to communicate to the performers that they have a responsibility to look after their costumes. Ensure that every costume is hung correctly or packed away, and all accessories are accounted for at the end of each show.

Common Costume Problems – Summary

One of the best ways of avoiding common costume problems is to work with professional theatrical costume designers. Promotional props and costumes have over 25 years of experience creating costumes, props and puppets for performances both large and small.

For more details about our services, please contact our friendly team.