Can Your Clothes Make or Break an Audition?

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You have an audition coming up. You’re studying the sides, researching the casting director, making decisions and choices about who the character is and how to play him. Something that’s probably not top of mind? What to wear to the audition.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to audition outfits: one that says the clothes you wear are an important part of the process and another that says clothes make no difference if the talent is there.

Personally, I don’t think there’s one right answer here, so instead, I’ll offer both sides of the argument based on what I’ve heard many agents, CDs, and directors say.

Some industry professionals will tell you that you never want to dress the part for an audition. If you’re reading for the role of a doctor, don’t show up wearing a lab coat. If the role is for a business person, wearing a suit isn’t necessary. Dressing the part can even be detrimental to your audition. The reasoning? First, it’s insulting to the casting director. He or she knows what doctors and business professionals look like. Second, it’s desperate. Your work should be strong enough that those watching the audition can immediately picture you in that role without a costume aid.

READ: Backstage Experts Answer: What Should Actors Wear to Auditions?

On the other end of the spectrum are those who think you should dress the part, but not to excess. If you’re auditioning to play a firefighter, don’t show up in a helmet, carrying an ax. But you do want to wear something that indicates someone who fights fires for a living.

The same is true if you are reading for the role of a doctor. Wearing a lab coat can really make you look like a doctor, which helps others believe you are physically right for the part. But you don’t need a stethoscope around your neck and a tongue depressor in your pocket. That’s overkill.

Ok, so, what should you do? Here’s how I deal with the conundrum.

I dress the part in as much as I look professional, and I bring anything extra with me as an option. If I’m reading for the role of a doctor, I wear a jacket, tie, and slacks, and I have a lab coat in my bag. When I walk into the audition room, I ask the CD/photographer if they’d like me to wear the coat. If they say yes, I’ll definitely look like a doctor. If they say no, I still look like a professional.

My reasoning? Even if the casting director or photographer (if it’s a print job) can easily imagine me as a doctor, the head of the pharmaceutical company might not be as imaginative. So, I like to knock people over the head with the look. I want them to look at me and say, yes, he does look like a doctor.”

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of actors who wear shorts, T-shirts and tennis shoes and can book any role they are reading for, but I think that it is better to at least give the appearance that you look right for a role.

Watch one of Aaron’s quick tips on what wardrobe should you wear to a go-see.

When you have your wardrobe strategy down, check out Backstage’s modeling listings!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Author Headshot
Aaron Marcus
Aaron Marcus has been a full-time actor for over 30 years. Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Aaron has made a career out of living in a non-major market, securing over 1,200 bookings to date. He is also the author of the Amazon 5-star rated “How to Become a Successful Actor and Model: From Getting Discovered to Landing Your Dream Audition and Role, the Ultimate Step by Step, No Luck Required Guide for All Actors and Models.”
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