When I started the assignment I had no idea how satisfying it would be. I had volunteered to help my friend and costume designer Katherine during the preparation of the local high school production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. I told her to put me to work in any capacity, that I simply wanted to be a part of the costume crew. When Katherine told me that she would like me to accessorize the female performers’ costumes I was thrilled. This musical is set in an office in the heart of the 1960’s and I would be accessorizing the students portraying young women who worked in the secretarial pool. Fashion in the 60’s was full of color and silhouette. Accessories were simple but bold. Outfits were color-coordinated and highly accessorized and a bit matchy-matchy; big button earrings, brooches, bright necklaces, and headbands rounded out the accessories.
The day of the tech rehearsal, I was prepared to work with one or two members of the costume crew to cull the large amounts of jewelry and select pieces that would work for the time period costumes. Katherine told me that pulling the pieces would be enough and not to worry about assigning them to outfits; but I wasn’t prepared for my reaction to the experience and it soon became clear that I was hooked and needed to see the process to the end. I quickly became a part of a well-oiled machine of hard workers – students on the costume crew and parent volunteers. Sorting clothes, sewing clothes, ironing clothes, and re-fitting clothes was going on all around me and I was awed and inspired. I had the pleasure of working with creative students, costume crew co-lead Kira and costume crew member Paula. We began first by pulling the appropriate accessories and as the day wore on, we started matching the pieces with the individual costumes. Before the day started I had doubts about whether I could handle all of the styling. What if I didn’t know enough or have enough experience? Yet, without realizing what was happening, I was doing it! Piece after piece, I was styling accessories to match each costume, going on pure instinct and adrenaline and living out a dream!
I have shared with you that if I were younger and just starting my career I would choose to be a costume designer. I would love to be a part of the story-telling of a character through his/her clothes. Today I was a costume designer. And it hit me: when you have a dream, you are on your way to making that dream come true. It doesn’t matter what stage you are in life – you just have to start. We all get there by trying and doing. We can’t get there without the dream and we can’t fulfill the dream with the doing. Just believe and then start. That is what will propel you to reach the height of your joy.
I extend a special thank you to the following people: Katherine Winter, costume designer for the award-winning Summit High School Theater Arts Program, for thinking of me for this assignment; Kira Ross and Kate Klaschka, costume department team leaders, for including me in your crew; and Susan Olson for taking these lovely photos for me. And of course, to the AMC show, Mad Men, for supplying endless research in 1960’s fashion!