what to wear to an acting audition dress for casting

What To Wear To An Audition

You have to make good clothing, shoes, hair and makeup choices for an audition. It will affect both how you feel about yourself and how others perceive you. Every decision you make about what to wear should be influenced by the type of audition you are attending.

How To Dress For An Audition

  • Read the instructions you have been given
  • Read the script and think about the setting and character
  • Choose clothing and hairstyle to subtly allude to the role
  • Do not turn up in costume
  • Don’t wear hats, jewellery or logos
  • Feel comfortable so you can concentrate on your acting or dancing

Page Contents

Prepare Your Casting Wardrobe In Advance

You must plan your audition wardrobe carefully and in advance. Many castings happen a day or two after you’ve received the phone call – and sometimes are even held the same day. 

First, know your casting type and the range of roles you could feasibly be cast for. Then, put together a few suitable outfits to allude to those roles.  Keep all the outfits clean and well maintained in your wardrobe and don’t wear them in daily life. Then, you’ll be ready when that call arrives out of the blue.

Establish The Setting And Character

Some casting directors tell the agent what you should wear to the audition. It may be a general brief or specify something particular, such as a suit. If you get those instructions, follow them without question. 

Clothing instructions can change for a recall. Perhaps the character is being modified. Maybe there are different scenes requiring a different look. Or even the instructions themselves were clarified.

Remember to read and follow the most up to date instructions and not stick to those from the first audition.

If you don’t receive instructions, you have decisions to make. So first make yourself familiar with the setting of the script. Is it a period feature, a futuristic sci-fi series, something magical and dark, or a happy, bubbly production for small children? What clues does the setting give you?

Then consider the character you’re auditioning for. A vicar dresses and behaves differently to a bubbly party animal. That affects the look of the costume on set, but also the way the actor has to physically move or hold themselves. And clothing can help or hinder that process.

Don’t Wear Anything Distracting

You want the casting director and their client to concentrate on your performance. So dress with no distractions. 

Clothes with holes in them or covered in logos are a terrible choice for casting rooms. Even if you think the character would wear clothes like that in real life, avoid them. 

Checks and stripes don’t work very well on film. Avoid ruining your audition, which is usually filmed for decision-makers, by choosing plain fabrics.

Hats, sunglasses, noisy bangles and big sparkly necklaces must stay at home. Your bright red acrylic nails with stars on top won’t work for the role as an ailing widow. 

If you normally wear glasses, ask the casting director in the room whether they’d like you to keep them on. They might be part of the look they want.

What Is The Best Colour To Wear To An Audition?

Whatever will help you get into character without distracting the eye away from your performance is a guiding principle. 

If it’s a business or salesperson role then a conservative suit is ideal, not just for appearance but also for helping your posture and alignment. For the role of vicar or priest don’t wear a full costume, but the casting can be enhanced by wearing black trousers and a black top or dark dress.

“Just a  little something to allude that you are that character helps, not necessarily for me but for my end client who may not be super creative and may need a little help seeing how you fit into that role.”

Casting Director Melanie Forchetti.

For everything else, neutral colours work best. You can add a bit of textural interest – a lace collar to suggest femininity, or a pair of jeans when casting as a builder – to add to the picture without distraction.

The general shape of your body should be seen so the casting team can imagine what you’d look like on screen. Don’t hide under leggings and a tent of a T-Shirt, or stumble about in trousers falling several centimetres below your boxer shorts.

Dress For The Acting Audition Of A Period Drama

Don’t turn up in costume for a period role. This isn’t a battle re-enactment or cosplay.  Professional wardrobe teams make the costume decisions in conjunction with producers and directors. The costume isn’t part of your brief.

Instead, allude to the period look. Women can loosely tie up part of their hair, while men should avoid getting a Number 2 Haircut during an audition round for period dramas. Wear a simple jacket with the collar turned up, or a longer skirt which covers your knees.

“You always want to go like 20% on what you feel would be the actual scene.”

Casting Associate Michael Duni 

If you can walk into the street without people turning to stare, you probably got the balance right.

Best Looks For A Commercial Audition

Commercials portray an idealised image of life, and the actors have to make a big impression so a story can be told in a few seconds. 

You need to look healthy and happy, with shiny hair and a big white smile. The overall look you want to achieve can be described as ‘aspirational’.

Makeup for women attending a commercial audition is recommended. Use a light foundation to help your skin look clean and hide blemishes.  Co-ordinate your clothing and makeup for a polished result. But don’t overdo it, because you aren’t in panto!

What To Wear To A Dance Audition

It doesn’t really matter whether you are attending a contemporary dance audition, a cruise line dance audition, a dance audition for a musical including a broadway dance audition, or a commercial dance audition. The requirements are roughly the same.

First, take heed of any instructions that you have received, and ask your agent for advice if you weren’t given any.

Then consider the same setting and character issues as for an acting audition, and allude to them by making very small adjustments to your clothing. Audition days are long and hard for the casting team, so anything you can do to help them see your potential is good, as long as it is subtle.

Some people advise against strong colours at musical theatre auditions, but these can be combined into attractive combinations with black items of clothing. Just avoid logos. As long as you are comfortable and feeling good, your outfit should give you the confidence to perform well.

However, you are primarily there to show how well you can dance. And to do that, you must be dressed comfortably in clothes that give you total flexibility in all parts of your body. Test this at home – if you can’t do the splits purely because the cut of your shorts doesn’t allow it, you have the chance to find something more suitable.

How Naomi Scott Dressed For Her Musical Theatre Audition

Musical theatre auditions require an outfit which allows you to breathe, sing and dance comfortably. But how far to go down the dance outfit route will depend on the audition. Your agent is there to advise you, or to check with the casting director on your behalf.

The English actress and singer Naomi Scott is best known for her starring role as Princess Jasmine in Disney’s live-action adaptation of the musical fantasy film Aladdin (2019). When she first auditioned for the role, she thought about the character and clothing of Jasmine and wanted to allude to it.

So she wore a navy top with big sleeves, and also put on slightly heavier makeup than she normally wears. It made her feel good, which helps with concentration during an audition.

When she received a callback, she was instructed to wear a dress and more makeup.

“I had to go and buy a dress from Topshop because I didn’t own a dress…I wasn’t going for the cosplay version of Jasmin, they would have been like “bye”.

Naomi Scott, talking to W Magazine

It’s always important to follow the instructions you are given by casting directors and not follow the advice of anyone else. In Naomi’s case, she bought a dress from Topshop because she didn’t have one. But it turned out to be a good investment.

What To Wear To An Audition For An Agent

A talent agent won’t have you in mind for a specific role but will be assessing your casting type. You should already be aware of what this is. For example, are you best suited to playing a glamorous lead, an insecure student, a comedy dad or a menacing drug dealer? 

You need to be flexible and adaptable, but your appearance determines what roles you can be realistically submitted for. The agent needs to see how you would fit the gaps in their roster of performers.

So make sure your clothing, hair and makeup allude to your casting type without going overboard. Wearing a costume, with a complicated hairstyle or heavy makeup doesn’t give the agent a chance to assess your full range and might make them wary about your personality. Agents want to represent reliable, sensible people who work well with everyone around them. 

What To Wear To A Drama School Audition

Most drama school auditions last a few hours, even for recalls. In addition to group exercises and improvisation workshops, you’ll perform two or three contrasting types of monologues

And while the audition panel is looking for a mix of different people for their course, your casting type doesn’t need to be clearly defined as it does for an acting agent. Although, when it comes to picking which monologue to perform, you’ll engage with your audience more quickly if you pick something appropriate to what you would be cast for.

You need to keep all eyes on your performance, so your clothes should not distract from that.

Decide several days in advance what to wear for an audition for drama school, so you have time to make purchases or do a wash for clean clothing. Other applicants won’t easily engage with someone who smells bad, and a big stain on your T-shirt could drain away your confidence.

When deciding what to wear to a drama school audition:

  • Be comfortable for physical movement
  • Your footwear should allow you to move around freely
  • Use layers to add or remove throughout the day
  • Wear something that shows your body shape 
  • Don’t wear revealing clothing or logos
  • Black and neutral colours are best
  • Use makeup lightly and pull back long hair

What Should My Child Wear To An Audition?

Casting directors have to quickly get the best out of each child actor they see to work out which ones have the right combination of physical looks, acting talent, social skills and emotional stability. The chosen child will be playing a role but also needs to cope with the demands of life on set. 

“First of all, children should look like themselves”.

Acting teacher Denise Simon

Child actors require a Child Performance Licence and a Chaperone to work on set, so they are only called in when a real child is essential to the scene.  Therefore, don’t dress your child up to look older than they are. Makeup, nail varnish, silly hairstyles, crop tops, and hot pants are inappropriate and get your child crossed straight off the list.

Hats, sunglasses and jewellery will distract your child’s attention away from their performance. Those items are also a distraction on the casting tape. You want your child noticed, not their accessories!

But if your child wears glasses for daily life, they should do so at the casting too. It’s important for your child to see so they are safe and are comfortable about the surroundings. Wearing glasses is nothing to feel ashamed about, and your child’s mental wellness must be at the centre of your attention when negotiating your way through the entertainment industry.

Your child’s clothes must be clean and without holes or logos. Casting directors are definitely not impressed by expensive clothing screaming the brand name. Also, avoid stripes or checks. 

If you get the shoes right, no one will notice them. If they are big sparkly boots, clippy sandals, muddy football boots or uncomfortable new school shoes that make your child fidgety, everyone will notice – for the wrong reasons!

Choosing The Clothes For Your Child’s Casting

If you’re bringing your child to a commercial audition, their hair and eye colours are important. Some colours of fabric will work better than others at highlighting their hair and eyes. Experiment, and once you know which colour works best, buy several plain tops in that shade. No logos, no stripes or checks, just a colour enhancing your child’s appearance.

Period auditions for children require an allusion to period clothing, without wearing a costume. For boys, comfortable dark shorts with a polo top works well. Girls wearing a dark skirt and white button-down shirt, with the top of their hair gently clipped or pulled back into a ribbon, reflect a classic period look. 

If your child’s agency supplies an audition T-shirt it may the agency’s name on it. However, the design will normally receive the green light from several casting directors before production. The agency name must only be present if positioned carefully with a sensible script size.

So, in summary – 

What Should My Child Wear To An Audition?

  • No makeup, nail varnish, jewellery, hats, etc.
  • Clean, plain, comfortable shoes
  • Comfortable clothes which are plain and appropriate
  • Clean clothes without holes, logos or distractions
  • Street clothes for commercials, classic clothes for period look
  • Colours to enhance their eye and hair colours
  • Tidy hair

Watch How Other People Dress At Auditions

You have a lot to think about when attending a casting. But it’s likely that you’ll notice the outfits worn by one or two other auditionees, often for the wrong reasons. Afterwards, jot down what you noticed. With experience, you’ll build up a picture of what looks good in the audition room – and what to avoid!

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Thanks to Ryan McGuire for the image at the top of this page.

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