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How to Dress For Getting Into the Movies

Apr 16, 2008
There is only one drawback to the pleasurable life of the movie actor or actress. They draw big salaries ; they get their names in the papers and are deluged with "fan" letters to such an extent that special postal departments are installed in their offices; the work is interesting and the hours comparatively short. But, alas, they have to have a lot of clothes.

To be sure, the buying of clothes is a most pleasurable experience to all women and to many men. And, forsooth, if they draw big salaries, why cavil about the cost of replenishing a wardrobe every now and again? The fact is, the wardrobes are not replenished every now and again; they are constantly in a state of replenishment, and for that reason the average actor's bank account, no matter how big the salary, is also in constant need of being similarly replenished.

For every new scene is apt to require completely new gowns and suits, and, in the case of the actors who play the more important parts, no two suits or gowns can be worn in any two pictures or the fans will be sure to discover it' and write uncomplimentary letters to the studio.

In the case of the beginner, however, no such expenses need be met if he or she has one complete wardrobe to start with. People playing minor characters must dress for the part at their own expense, but no one notices or cares whether they wear the same clothes with which they recently graced the studio next door. If they play a part requiring a special dress or uniform the management will supply it without charge.

It is rather difficult for a newcomer to the movies to know exactly what clothes are required for their wardrobe. Therefore we are including the following comments on clothes and styles, as applied to motion picture work: Men should have at least three business suits, one of which should be light and one dark. For summer scenes, white flannels, with a blue coat and a soft shirt not a sport shirt are required. White duck shoes complete this outfit. Tweed suits are the proper thing for wear in the country club scenes and in most pictures calling for scenes on English estates.

For dress wear three outfits are necessary. There is the cutaway for afternoon weddings, society teas, and so forth, a Tuxedo for club scenes and semi-dress occasions, and finally, full dress for balls and dinners where ladies are in the scene. A dark four-in-hand or bow tie, with a stand-up or wing collar, should be worn with the cutaway, and regulation dress bow ties, black with the dinner coat and white with the dress suit. These clothes are an essential part of a motion picture actor's outfit. The great difficulty with young actors is a tendency to overdress and to attempt to hide bad tailoring with a flashy design and a freak cut of the coat.

Since clothes are an actor's stock in trade, he should patronize only the best, if the most.expensive tailors, and stick to conservative lines unless the part requires eccentric dressing. Jewelry should be avoided, unless called for in the character ; cuff links and a watch chain are all that should be worn, with the exception of dress studs with the dinner or dress coat.

Girls will need a simple afternoon suit and an outer coat to match. They must have two summer frocks, a sailor blouse with a dark skirt, negligee, and an evening gown and wraps. Hats to match are necessary, of course, as are dancing slippers and white duck shoes. The evening gown is perhaps the most important part of the young actress's wardrobe, since she is more apt to be called in for ball and dinner scenes than any other. Simplicity should be the keynote of such gowns. Simple French models are very attractive, but few women can wear them well, since most American girls are too broad in the shoulders for the Parisian styles.

Clothes for character parts must be assembled on the moment according to the demands of the director and the imagination of the actor or actress. Realism is the great essential of character dressing. To wear the rags of a vaudeville tramp in the movies would turn the picture into a slapstick comedy. A real tramp's clothes are a mighty different matter.

The greatest difficulty which a casting director experiences is that of finding people to play the part of society folk. These parts require an understanding of drawing-room manners and ballroom etiquette, and the ability to wear smart clothes. If the clothes are
not up to the moment they will be obsolete when the picture reaches the country at large, and the audiences will think that because the styles are out of date the picture is out of date also. Also if any extreme styles are worn they are sure to be out of date when the picture is shown.

In the same way, the slightest error in etiquette is sure to be noted and commented upon. It is more of a trick than one might think to know, at a moment's notice, how to act as best man at a fashionable wedding, or how to serve a ten-course dinner according to the latest vogue.

The best way is to dress conservatively and to act as any well bred person might be expected to. A man who fails to take off his hat upon entering a fashionable house would be laughed at. A man who took it off with a grand flourish would be hooted out. Recently a director read in a certain short story that the Newport set had instituted the custom of supplying a single green glove for each dinner guest to wear while the olives were served. This was merely a bit of satire on the part of the story writer but the director took it seriously, and instituted the fad in a dinner scene with dire results when the picture was shown to the newspaper critics.
About the Author
Malcolm Blake has researched all aspects of the movies - both traditional and modern aspects. He has also researched how you can download movies throughout the ages.
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