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Dress for Success This Audition Season with These 4 Tips

This post was first published on February 10, 2016 as part of The Green Room on www.newmusicaltheatre.com.

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of shopping. It’s audition season again here in NYC and I’m going for a whole new look to complement my new type discoveries. I spent the winter doing a lot of research with the help of an audition coach (thanks The Biz of Show!). So now it’s time to try out what I’ve learned, and that includes trying out new outfits! I learned a couple of things while I was doing all my shopping and I thought I’d share my findings with all of you. Clothing plays a big part of both college auditions and day-to-day auditions so no matter where you live, this is something you should think about.

1. Wear What You Always Wear

Yes, auditions are a special occasion. But they’re not generally the occasion for your Sunday best. Just like when you get headshots taken, you want to look like the best version of your daily self. If you’re someone who is more comfortable in pants than a skirt, then wear pants! Jeans are acceptable, but not the ripped up or saggy jeans that are sold in many stores. Trousers can also be very flattering and these days, most stores make pants in every color you could imagine. You’re essentially going in for a job interview, so remember to look professional even if you’re a casual type of person. Essentially, you want to look like an everyday person who walked in off the streets of New York City. Many musicals are made up of ordinary people going through extraordinary circumstances, so you don’t need to dress up in a crazy costume to get the essence of the character.

Clothing is also expensive. You don’t want to have a closet full of daily clothes and a separate closet full of audition clothes. They should be one and the same. Sure, you might wear the audition clothes less frequently in order to keep them in good shape. But you should be able to go to your closet and pull out that audition outfit to wear on a date or out with friends.

2. Tailoring Is Your Friend

One of the most important things is that your clothes need to fit you! For example, if you’re a busty girl, is your button-down shirt or dress gapping at the front? Sometimes you can fix it with double-stick tape, but sometimes you need to pass on buying that cute button-front outfit. You don’t want to worry that you’re showing the table more than you planned on showing! This also goes for sleeveless shirts that might dip a little low at your armpits. Side-boob can be classy on the red carpet but it never is in the audition room. Be careful with completely strapless tops as well. You want to be focused on your audition, not on whether you need to pull up your top before you spill out of it.

When it comes to blazers, for both men and women, fit is very important. Even if you plan to wear it unbuttoned, it needs to be able to comfortably button. If it pulls tight across when you button it, try a size up. You can always get the sides and sleeves tailored to give you a more flattering fit, but it’s harder to tailor something to be bigger than it is to buy it big and tailor it down. Make sure your sleeves don’t cover your hands; it just looks like you raided mom or dad’s closet and played dress-up.

3. Choose Your Shoes Wisely

I love shoes. I have a lot of them and in many different styles and colors. Shoes can be a great way to add some personality to your outfit. However, be careful that your shoes aren’t more interesting than your audition. We all know that moment in The Last Five Yearswhen Cathy is singing about all the things happening in her audition and she realizes the director is staring at her shoes instead of listening to her. Don’t be a Cathy.

Also, make sure you can walk in your shoes! Sure, they’re asking for someone who is 5’7” and if you wear five-inch heels, maybe you can trick them into thinking you’re close enough. But is it worth it when you trip over the doorway as you walk into your audition? Admittedly, I’ve done that even when wearing completely comfortable shoes. But why give yourself something extra to worry about? Auditions are stressful enough without worrying about whether you’ll safely make the cross to the accompanist.

4. “Change It / Don’t Change It”: Hair and Jewelry

Do what makes you comfortable! As Betsy Struxness pointed out in my last blog, when she began allowing herself to wear her nose ring into the room and cutting her hair the way she wanted it instead of how she thought the casting directors wanted it, she felt more comfortable and began giving better auditions. Hair and jewelry can be changed, cut, removed, etc. for a show. Let them see your best talents and if they want you to dye your hair later, that can come up when they offer you the role. Just make sure you look clean; unshowered, unstyled hair is just as distracting as too much bling.

As you can probably guess, the theme of this week’s blog is…BE YOU. You can’t be anything more than your best self, so just bring that into the audition room and let everything else happen around you.