Hey there Kristin,
What is the difference between a costumer or set costumer and a costume designer on a film?
– Heather Q., NorCal
Dear Heather Q.,
Thank you so much for your question!! “Costumer” is kind of a catch-all term for people who work with costumes. It is not a very specific job title – so I have some answers for you … Here is a list (partially stolen from my book Going Hollywood) to make it simple:
Costume Designer Designs the “look” and personality of the characters through clothing and accessories.
Costume Supervisor Implements scheduling, breakdowns, budgets, and running of the costume department – the “right-hand-man” to the costume designer, responsible a lot of the time for procuring costumes for large background content (i.e., football teams, marching bands, military uniforms). Responsible for all accounting, purchase orders, rentals and loss and damage.
Key Set Costumer Responsible for setting actors’ clothing in their trailers, maintaining continuity books and continuity of clothing, also known lovingly as “trailer bitch” – usually setting and clearing rooms, writing up laundry, printing pictures while shooting is taking place. The Key Set Costumer is in charge of the department while the supervisor and designer are not on set.
Set Costumer Responsible for setting actors’ clothing in their trailers, maintaining continuity books and continuity of clothing, usually spending their time on set, watching the costumes and adjusting them when necessary.
Ager-Dyer Distresses, dyes, and paints wardrobe, fabric, and accessories to make them look old or worn (or another color).
Assistant Costume Designer Assists the costume designer in all overflow duties – sourcing fabric & notions, setting up product placement, and getting multiples of costumes. It’s a lot of work.
Costume Illustrator Produces illustrations, per the costume designer’s vision, of costumes to be worn in a project.
Seamstress/Tailor/Cutter-Fitter Sews, alters, and repairs costumes.
Additional Costumer Usually responsible for dressing background extras, keeping continuity book and maintaining on-set continuity.
Hope that helps! We have a very strict list of duties set forward by the union, but this is the thumbnail version from my perspective. Other costume designers might break it down differently, but this is just the basic overview.