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Film, television and theatre production companies employ costume designers, often on a freelance basis, to design the costumes that will most faithfully convey the characters being portrayed.
They will typically be required to read the script and synopsis of a production before anything else, in order to get to know the various characters and design the most appropriate costumes. If the production is set in a specific historical era, the designer may have to conduct further research into the types of clothes that were worn by various different people at the time.
Once a design has been drawn and colours and materials have been selected, the designer will show it to the producer for approval or alteration and, after the design is agreed, the designer will hold fittings for the actors and take measurements to pass on to dress makers and tailors. Depending on the production and the kind of wardrobe it needs, actors will sometimes have to go to numerous fittings which will all be supervised by the costume designer.
As part of the production team, the designer will need to work closely with hair and makeup teams, set designers and lighting technicians to ensure that all aspects of the production work together.
Designers working within tight budget restraints might look through second-hand shops and costume outlets to find ready-to-wear costumes to which they can make any necessary alterations.