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Costume Designers Stay Cool Under Pressure

Working in Theatre


Emilio Sosa working with a Center Theatre Group staff member on costumes for "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."

Emilio Sosa knows his fabrics. He likes diving into research. He’s adept at collaborating with everyone from tailors and sewers to directors like George C. Wolfe and Phylicia Rashad. He’s got an incredible eye for design…and he stays cool under pressure. In our latest Working in Theatre video, Sosa, who most recently worked with Center Theatre Group on August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, talks about what it takes to become a costume designer in theatre, how he got his start, and his first big break.

If you’re interested in costume design and perhaps share some of Emilio Sosa’s skills, you might want to check out these additional resources:

  • Get step-by-step instructions for creating different costumes (everything from zombies and samurai to period outfits) at
  • The Costumer’s Manifesto Wiki is a wealth of resources, including a listing of online classes, tips on things like using a sewing machine and making big hair, and a directory of where to purchase supplies.
  • Practice your drawing and design skills by making a paper doll with clothes.
  • Walt Disney Animation artists Griz and Norm offer their thoughts on Costume Design 101.
  • Learn more about costume design from the Costume Designers Guild, Local 892 of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.). The Guild represents costume designers, assistant costume designers, and costume illustrators.
  • Make your own measurement sheets. It is best that you have your own sheets that make sense to your skills, but use these male and female examples as a reference.

Thanks to Ann Closs-Farley for providing these resources.

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