The Realm of Costume
By Bianca Hall

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A costume department puts in long hours to ensure the clothing fits the character, the time period and the mood of the film. 
Sheila Pruden, who has worked on films such as Jumper and X-Men, says the film industry generally acknowledges intricate period pieces for their costume designs but the realm of costume encompasses so much more.

“It is the nature of people to think of costume as something big and elaborate rather than the clothes that we wear,” says Pruden. “Everything you wear is a costume whether it’s jeans and a T-shirt or a ball gown, a karate uniform or a cop uniform.”
Some of the most prominent costumes with the biggest fashion influence were not period pieces at all.

“Look at James Dean,” says actor Dustin Hodess of the sketch comedy troupe, Not Without My Arm.  “He was only in three movies or something and everyone identifies him with that white T-shirt and leather jacket because it was something different but ended up being very influential.”

Actors and costumers have a mutual understanding when it comes to the importance of the appearance of a character.
A lot of times actors find their character in the process of trying on clothes, says Malcolm Pearcey, co-ordinator of Seneca College’s Costume Studies Program.  “You can tell that they haven’t got a handle on this character yet, but then they put something on and you can see them going through a process.”

Many people work behind the scenes, and those working on-set dressing the actors ensure continuity between scenes, and prepare the costume trucks for the following days’ shoots.

“This is not a job for anyone by any means,” says Pruden. “I’m not saying it isn’t fun to work with these stars and spend someone else’s money on Armani suits…because it is. But that’s only a small part of it.”

Pearcey agrees. “The only glamorous thing about working in film is talking about it,” he says.  “It’s damn hard work. It’s glamorous going to the parties afterwards.”

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