Author Topic: PROFESSIONALISM: Dressing For The Part?  (Read 59472 times)

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GradSM

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PROFESSIONALISM: Dressing For The Part?
« on: Jan 06, 2007, 05:14 pm »
Hey everyone...curious to get opinions on this.  I'm a first year grad SM, and the head of the department recently told me that my style of dress is too casual and may actually prevent me from getting jobs in larger theatres.  In interviews I'm dressed business casual or better, and at work I take my cue from the director or others who work at the theatre, though in my past experience folks are dressed casually-jeans, sneakers, and t-shirts don't seem to be uncommon.  However, I'm now being told that I need to be dressing "nicer"-if I'm going to stick w/ my jeans, I need to be wearing nicer shoes and be more dressy on the top half if I want to be taken seriously.  What are people's opinions on this?  Do you think that's true?  That dressing casual reads as a casual approach to the job?  Or that me dressing casually effects me getting a job or not?
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 02:19 am by PSMKay »

Mac Calder

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Re: Dressing For The Part?
« Reply #1 on: Jan 06, 2007, 06:00 pm »
I spend 90% of my time in black, but I usually wear black jeans, black work boots, plain black tshirt, black belt. HOWEVER: My jeans are in good condition - the creases ironed out etc. My black shirt is clean and not all crumpled, my black boots are polished. I suppose the issue is you have to be NEAT casual. So no ripped jeans, no scrunched up T-shirts with holes in them etc. I have long been a believer that you can still look dressed up in t-shirt and jeans, you don't have to look dagy. Occasionally, I break from the norm and wear a long sleeved t-shirt or something with an image on it, but that is fairly rare.

Beatr79

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Re: Dressing For The Part?
« Reply #2 on: Jan 06, 2007, 07:56 pm »
As a PA and intern, I did not worry about dressing casually.  I figured I was the lowest man on the totem pole, so to speak, and therefore not obligated to dress well.  I also used the others around me as the clue for appropriate dress, but I paid most careful attention to the other stage managers, rather than artistic or administrative staff.   After all, they are the ones who I worked with daily, and who had to do the type of work we do, namely, crawling around the floor with spike tape, hauling rehearsal furniture into studios, etc. My standard uniform then was chinos and a t-shirt or polo shirt.  Casual, yes, but not ratty.

After getting my card, I made a conscience effort to "dress the part" of a professional stage manager.  What this translated into: same chinos, nonathletic looking sneakers, and more button-down shirts and sweaters.  I also shy away from anything too clingy or revealing.  The last thing I want is to do is make the crew (esp!) view me as a dopey girl who gets by on her looks.  The t-shirt and polos are still a part of the repertory, but usually later in the process, after I've established myself within a company.

For me, the clothes are a visual clue to the cast, director, designers, and crew take I have my act together.   I'm often much younger than most of these people, and I want to convey a sense of responsibility and diligence to them from the outset.

All this being said, I never wear clothes to work that I would hesitate to get dirty, and I must be able to move easily in them. 

megf

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Re: Dressing For The Part?
« Reply #3 on: Jan 06, 2007, 09:37 pm »
Beatr79 -- I'm in a similar situation to the one you were in as a PA.

After I stopped doing shows at my college (where sweatshirts and jeans with ratty tennis shoes were, generally, encouraged. Rehearsal rooms were sometimes rather dirty) I started looking for the handful of things I could wear that would look professional, but would also make it easy to do my work. So far, I've found that good shoes (for me, always leather -- boots, flats, heels at opening night) go over much better than sneakers. I wear slacks almost every day -- they are washable, tend to be a bit sleeker than jeans, and look more business-like. If I'm going to be hauling stuff around, taping floors out or running errands (esp. on foot), I wear a tank top and bring a light jacket or sweater to put on when I need to interact with cast, creatives, etc. Much as I love the kneeless jeans and frayed sweatshirts, they only come out on days off or after I feel the company has a strong sense of who I am and what I can do.

I have to confess -- I am not above wearing feminine clothing to work. No skirts, but girlie blouses (occasionally) feel right on special nights -- first preview, opening and closing will usually see me in prettier stuff. I have a stash of dressy sweaters that seem to work just fine for this.

Re-reading your post, maerzysm, it sounds like this advice was not delivered in the gentlest manner... I had some trouble with advice/commentary/mentorship from people at my college, and would be happy to PM with you about how certain situations played out.

Best,

Meg

Scott

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Re: Dressing For The Part?
« Reply #4 on: Jan 06, 2007, 11:40 pm »
However, I'm now being told that I need to be dressing "nicer"-if I'm going to stick w/ my jeans, I need to be wearing nicer shoes and be more dressy on the top half if I want to be taken seriously. 

Sounds like bull-crap to me.

Jeans are fine, though holy jeans should probably be used with caution, as noted above.

Nicer shoes?  Boots or sneakers.  Black is best.  How the heck are you going to work in nice shoes?  Save 'em for the cast party.

TechieWench

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Re: Dressing For The Part?
« Reply #5 on: Jan 07, 2007, 01:18 am »
What I wear depends heavily on what I'm doing a certain day. For example, if it's a rehearsal and I'm likely to be running around a lot, I wear clothes that can take the wear and tear like most people have said, but if I'm running auditions, I like to look a little nicer because I know I won't be crawling around the floor with spike tape or running all around the theatre. Plus, the actors are seeing me for the first time, so it gives them a better first impression than jeans and a t-shirt would.

kiwitechgirl

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Re: Dressing For The Part?
« Reply #6 on: Jan 07, 2007, 03:04 am »
During rehearsals I usually wear jeans and a tidy top; during performance, when I'm dealing with the public, it's always semi-formal blacks - nice trousers and a shirt, or sometimes a skirt or dress shorts, usually with either boots or ballet flats - heels only very occasionally (while I can run silently in them, I prefer not to!).

OldeWolf

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Re: Dressing For The Part?
« Reply #7 on: Jan 07, 2007, 10:09 am »
Blacks all the way. Meeting a new cast/director I wear good black slacks and a button down shirt. Working rehearsal, black 5.11 Tactical pants (LOTS of pockets) and a black T-shirt, many of them Show shirts, or other non-offensive designs on them, black shoes (my favorite are Crocks. Very comfortable). Once we are in tech it's black tacticals, black long-sleeve Dickies work shirts, black leather cross-trainers or my Crocks, black ball cap. Opening on, usually black dress slacks, black dress shirt, black dress shoes. The only exception was a show I worked recently that had my control booth up on top a scaffold. We were working in the round, in a recreation of the Rose theater, with the audience seated on the stage. I had to climb the outside of the scaffold each night, so I chose to go up before the house opened and stay there until final curtain rather than scramble up there five minutes before curtain and be part of the night's entertainment. I wore my best tacticals and a work shirt. The only time I wear jeans is if I am on Scenic Painting crew, like today. I'm headed out to my little theater this morning to paint some props, some walls, a couple of signs, and the deck, to fix a couple more props, run a shift rehearsal, and generally keep things moving toward opening Thursday night. Gotta love community theater while working on finding an AEA apprenticeship.

Owen
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ljh007

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Re: Dressing For The Part?
« Reply #8 on: Jan 07, 2007, 12:13 pm »
I dress based on the work I will be doing. For most basic rehearsals, I look nice - slacks and a good shirt that I can still haul tables in. I wear makeup and only out-of-the-way jewelry. Jeans are ok if they look nice, but they're never my first choice. I often wear blazers or suit jackets with my outfits - you can take them off when you're doing a set change or something, but it really polishes a look that might otherwise have been just a shirt and pants. For meetings and big days like when I'm greeting the cast for the first time, I might wear a suit, or extra-nice pants and a lovely shirt with pretty shoes (that are still silent and durable). For opening night, I wear a woman's tux. Sometimes with fishnets and a fedora. Oh yes, I do! And while I have hung lamps in stilettos, I usually wear jeans, t-shirts, and boots for serious tech days (load-in, load-out, etc.). On these days I do not really look nice, I look like I have tech work to do. Hair is always pulled back. I only wear black anymore on tech rehearsals and performance calls.

As for what NOT to wear, I rarely wear skirts just because you never know when you might have to crawl under a platform to retrieve a prop or something.
I rarely wear heels because I can't run as fast in them. I never wear any jewelry that makes noise. I never show bra straps or wear tank tops (sleeveless shirts are ok). Never ever ever wear flip-flops or sandals. Never wear perfume or otherwise stink.

I totally share Meg's impression that this advice was not exactly given in the most gentle and helpful manner. Just an impression... Maybe this professor is trying to tell you something else. Maybe they're frustrated with you for reasons unknown but they're choosing to express it by criticizing your appearance. The fact of the matter is, I can't see your rehearsal dress keeping you from getting a job. If you look well in interviews - that's the big part. No director is giong to say "Jane did a fabulous job calling the show and running rehearsals. But she could have worn better loafers."

Quote
holy jeans should probably be used with caution
...and with the blessing of your local priest.

smsam

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Re: Dressing For The Part?
« Reply #9 on: Jan 07, 2007, 01:36 pm »
For me it depends on my role and what I'll be doing.

As an ASM or SM during the Rehearsal Process I will normally always wear jeans and a nice t-shirt with a jumper. As others have said wearing ripped jeans probably isn't a great idea and wearing crumpled, old crew t-shirts and the like isn't great either. Once I get into the theatre I start wearing blacks (black combats with long sleeved black t-shirt and black steel toe-capped trainers!).

As a DSM in the rehearsal room I like to present myself a lot more formally. This means I will normally wear a pair of jeans or trousers (cords) with a nice shirt (open necked and not normally tucked in!) with a jumper over the top. As for shoes I'll wear nice work shoes (black or brown slip-ons). Once I'm in the theatre I'll wear much the same as the ASMs going more casual! I try to avoid wearing blacks outside of the theatre (i.e. during the rehearsal process) because it is unnecessary, makes me look slightly scary and only helps the sterotype of us being "techies" in black. I also love shopping so wearing nice shirts at work is a good excuse!

Sam x

Sam x

ashadeofbrown

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Re: Dressing For The Part?
« Reply #10 on: Jan 07, 2007, 08:40 pm »
I was the youngest person on-board (rehearsal manager and ASM) for my most recent show, and at the beginning I wore solid colors and good shoes and jeans. I think I went to my college interview in black jeans. I generally go for the casually dressy look.

I've always supposed that if you were good, it didn't matter what you wore after a while, as long as it isn't something you'd wear to bed.

Although we did have our sound guy come into our rehearsals with flannel pants, offset by a suit jacket.
Curiosity killed the cat and satisfaction brought it back.

Rebbe

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Re: Dressing For The Part?
« Reply #11 on: Jan 07, 2007, 11:48 pm »
Quote
What are people's opinions on this?  Do you think that's true?  That dressing casual reads as a casual approach to the job?
No, I don't think casual dress reads as a casual approach.  Every stage manager has a different style, and I think itís fine for that to be reflected in your clothing.  Taking cues from the other theater staff, as you mentioned, is a good idea, and theater folk tend to be a quirky bunch, so you'll probably notice a wide variety of clothing choices.  Wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident, and able to do the literal heavy-lifting that often comes with SMing.  All I ask is that you donít share your undies with the group.  I do NOT want to see your leopard print thong every time you sit down, so please tuck in your shirt or otherwise mind the gap back there. 

Quote
Or that me dressing casually effects me getting a job or not?
I wouldnít wear jeans to an interview, even for a theater job, but anything neat and professional should be fine.  Once youíve got the job, itís hard to imagine clothing being the deciding factor in whether you get another with the same company.
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)

Aerial

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Re: Dressing For The Part?
« Reply #12 on: Jan 07, 2007, 11:50 pm »
I tend to wear jeans, but nice darker jeans, or cords.  I wear a lot of fitted button down shirts, and sweaters.  It's been pointed out to me recently that I dress similarly to our production manager. My shoes are black  half-boot slip-ons that I've discovered are very quiet backstage.  Backstage I wear dress trousers (because I've found the thin material easiest to move in) and one of my many black shirts depending on the night...dressy on opening, etc.   I never wear skirts or heels, but that's just because I've never flet comfortable in them.

LiLz

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Re: Dressing For The Part?
« Reply #13 on: Jan 07, 2007, 11:54 pm »
I go for business casual ... nice jeans or slacks, a nice top or button-down shirt, and loafers or clogs.  I usually show up in a jacket, but that never seems to last long.  However, if I'm working non-union and am expected to help schlep set pieces about, I wear stage blacks.  And, if we're being asked to work a 10-out-of-12, comfort becomes as important as appearance.

Balletdork

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Re: Dressing For The Part?
« Reply #14 on: Jan 08, 2007, 10:37 am »
This is a good chatting point... I wear jeans and a button down shirt nearly every day. I do wear ridiculously nice shoes-

Now.... I am the Company Manager and Stage Manager for our company, which is a dance company. In dance we generally don't have to set out funrniture ro make changeovers in the rehearsal room. I've never had to move anything in a studio rehearsal that i couldn't move in 4 1/2 inch heels and a min-shirt. Not that I'd wear either of those things- but the point is I guess it all depends on what's expected of you in whatever rehearsal....

I did recently have a nassistant who wore ridiculously low-cut jeans and whenever she moved things about on stage her thong hung out.... very embarrassing for me although I don't think she minded.

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