Welcome to FrockTalk, the web’s only costume-based movie review site. The goal of Frocktalk is to shed light on the magnificent artistry of costume design in motion pictures. Reviews on this site are written by working costume designers in the entertainment industry – people who know, better than anyone, what it takes to make it all happen. The focus of FrockTalk is not to comment on the big flashy costume dramas, but to call attention to the seemingly ordinary costume design work in film that silently and persuasively moves the audience toward understanding the characters. Costume design for motion pictures is an art form that deserves more recognition than it usually gets. Fancy, pretty costumes do not always equal effective, appropriate costumes. The art of the costume is in letting the audience know who the character is, before the actor even has a chance to open his mouth. Read on, and enjoy. ** CAUTION: ALL REVIEWS CONTAIN SPOILERS! **

10 Great Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Costume-Type

It’s that time of year again, and you may be wondering what to get your special costume-type. The holidays are about giving, and whether you’re going big or small in terms of your expenditures, this list should help to give you some ideas. Take a look:

1)  Leather tape measure. Every costume-type needs one of these, to carry on their person at all times. It’s a great gift, and these leather tape measures are like virtually indestructible.  Coach used to make some beautiful ones, and you can only find them on Ebay, because they are not making them anymore. However, you can also find some cute leather tape measures online at Hanson Ellis.com for only $12.95.

2. 2)  Smart phone, smart phone accessories. Every single person in the film industry should have a smart phone. The prices are really coming down, and there is just no excuse to NOT have one anymore. Whether you choose Droid, iPhone, Blackberry, or another model, you know where to find them: Best Buy, the Apple Store, Fry’s, Verizon, etc. Some great smart phone accessory ideas include: external battery pack, car mounts, waterproof/crushproof cases, or fancy headphones!

3. 3)  Fabric shopping bags. We who are sometimes called “professional shoppers” go through mountains and mountains of plastic bags. This is not good for the environment. For an environmentally minded costume-type, a good idea is the Chico Bag. These bags are lightweight, compact, and can easily be stowed in a purse or pocket, and later unfurled to carry purchases. I like Chico Bag because they come from Chico, my hometown, and they are a nationally recognized Fair Labor and Green America-approved business. And, starting at about $5.99, this is an affordable gift your costume friend (and the earth) will love.

4. 4)  Books. Seriously, if you have an aspiring costume designer in your world, let’s get them started in the right direction with some good books. Now, to address the sticky “self-promotion” stuff, let’s just get it out of the way. I co-authored Costuming for Film (Silman James Press). It is a detailed (576 pages) textbook about costume design for film – how we do it, what we deal with, etc. It is very comprehensive and a good tool for beginners, students, and those wanting to learn more about our craft. You can buy it at Amazon or at Samuel French in Los Angeles. I also recommend Dressed by Deborah Nadoolman Landis as it is a wonderful compendium of costumes throughout film history – it’s a gorgeous book! If your costume-type is looking to get started in the industry, I would also recommend (again shameless self-promotion) Going Hollywood –  I get loads of email from people wanting to get started in the industry, and I always recommend this book – it is a thorough “how to do this” guide.

5. 5)  Adobe CS5 suite. The Adobe Creative Suite 5 includes important design programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, and Fireworks. We all use photoshop and illustrator for work – it’s great for sketching, adjusting fitting pictures, and creating some razzle-dazzle in design presentations. Available at Best Buy, Fry’s, or online.

6. 6)  Wacom Tablet. This is a great tool – I use mine all the time when working with Photoshop. You can draw, paint, erase, fly free with the Wacom Tablet. It’s fantastic, and the product ranges from small and inexpensive to large and pricy. Here is Wacom’s official site. Tablets are availabe at Fry’s, Best Buy, and online.

7. 7)  Comfy, stylish shoes. We are on our feet for fourteen to sixteen hours per day. We need shoes that are comfortable, but also funky and stylish. I recommend the following brands – TSUBO and John Fluevog. Check out their sites and see if there is anything appropriate – meaning, a small heel at best, and supportive and comfy for sixteen hours of schlepping! And of course, they have to look superdope, and fit well, so you might want to make sure you can get a gift receipt!

8. 8)  Spa treatment. We are in a thankless profession, and sometimes it gets to us. We all need a break, and it’s best when the break comes in the form of a nice hot pool, cold pool, steam room, facial, body scrub, foot reflexology and two-hour-long massage. In Los Angeles, the go-to spas are Burke Williams, and Beverly Hot Springs, but to be honest, even if it’s a homemade spa day, we would really appreciate it.

9. 9)  Website building service. If you have the skills to put together even an easy, basic portfolio website, your costume friend would love you forever if you could make a site for him/her. Google Sites and Weebly.com offer free hosting, and creating an online portfolio is as important nowadays as having a resume! If you can gift your services this year in this manner, it’s perfect.

10. 10)  Gift card to Blurb or Shutterfly. Every designer, assistant, ager/dyer and costume fabricator needs a portfolio. These days, it’s easy enough to make one online! There are a few handy sites where you can do this with relative ease – they are Blurb, and Shutterfly. You upload your pictures, and drop/drag them into pages. A few days (literally) later, you have your new portfolio in your hands! It’s amazing. And with the electronic storage online, you don’t have to worry if you lose your portfolio or it falls into the Silverlake Reservoir. You can just order another one. Aahhh.

I hope that all of this gives you some ideas! And if you are a costume-type and you like these ideas, you can always print this out and mail it anonymously to people whom you might think owe you some gifts. If you are really stuck and want more ideas, here is last year’s list. Good luck out there and shop safely!!!


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