This table is not meant to be a quantitative measure as much a tool that to help us define how costume designs may be measured against each other. Designs are ranked by difficulty to produce, not by quality of design. This could include hours, design difficulty, or number of stratified positions necessary.

In this chart the designs are ranked from a modern show that is entirely wardrobed (pulled from a stock) to a conceptual show that has original designs. Within each category there are three levels of design.

A show is wardrobed if none of it is built. Pieces can be shopped for, pulled or rented. A designed show has pieces that are built. Pieces can be altered, pulled, or made. The following examples represent how these plays are usually conceived, and are in no way meant to limit creativity:

Wardrobed Modern: David Ives One Acts, Steven Dietz Plays, Leagally Blond, In the Heights, The Last Five Years

Wardrobed Period: Waiting for Lefty, Cradle Will Rock, RENT, The Maids, GreaseMartin McDonagh Plays, Hairspray

Wardrobe Period (Pre 20th Century): Chekhov Plays, Fiddler On The Roof, Importance of Being Earnest, Hair, Assassins

Designed Modern: MetamorphosesPriscilla: Queen Of The Desert, Kinky Boots, La Cage Aux Folles

Designed Period: Into the Woods, Spring Awakening, Shakespeare, The Who’s Tommy, Will Roger’s Follies

Wardrobed Conceptual: Christopher Durang Plays, Once Apon A Mattress, Jesus Christ Super Star, Waiting for Godot

Designed Conceptual: Ring Cycle, Magic Flute, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Wizard of Oz, Wicked, Peter Pan




A modern show may include a design that is pulled or designed and altered. Designers that imploy these designs tend to work very well with film. These designers must have a keen and accurate eye when replicating real life. The designs could include very simple costumes or costumes that are made from scratch from the 20th or 21st century.


Period design may require simply pulling, but often requires both building and pulling. These designs range from simple stage pieces to elaborate movies. These designs must communicate character through archaic means, meaning that their knowledge of the period is paramount. They not only require extensive work with a shop, they might require period hair and makeup.


Conceptual designs take the most work. Costumers who employ these designs work in film and on stage. They help to create a particular world that people have never seen before, thus their sense of design is . Their designs range from modern to fantasy, but regardless of the period, they have to produce many of the items by working closely with a team of artisans, while constantly keeping track that their design lines up with the directors vision

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