You've picked your audition material, you've performed it to the wall in your bedroom two hundred times, you've filmed your prescreens, you’ve booked your audition dates, you bought that steamer on amazon and then returned it and then bought the one you meant to buy the first time, and now it's finally time to shine! So...what do you wear? Like every other facet of the college audition process and this crazy business called show, everyone has a different opinion. How you would dress for a first date or a dinner meeting with someone who you want to impress? Are we serving "smart casual," "Western business attire," "cocktail," “actor’s neutral,’ ”tasteful party vibes," or "jewel tone glamour"? What do any of those even mean?! Relax, you got this.
The key to dressing perfectly for your college audition is to find an outfit that makes you feel great, exhibits the professionalism that schools are looking for, and supports what you are presenting in terms of your energy and your material. Just as you did when you chose your songs and monologues, think about what message your audition outfit sends to the auditors/faculty. It should feel like an awesome extension of yourself. They want to see you, after all! And nothing feels better than striding into an audition room feeling fabulous. When it comes to auditioning in general, confidence is king (or queen, as the case may be). They can tell when you’re feeling uncomfortable in your clothes or shoes, or when you’re using your outfit to hide. Wondering what it looks like when someone is feeling great in what they’re wearing? Oh, look! Here’s a photo of your favorite MCA coaches doing that thing!
You get it, how you dress is important. But how do you go about searching for outfits? Start by looking through what you already have. I usually tell my students to dress as you would for a first date or a dinner meeting with someone on whom you want to make a great first impression. We’re looking for that sweet spot between formal and informal; something that shows your personality while keeping it neat, clean, and professional. If you have an outfit in your closet that you love and that feels right, go with that. If not, head to the mall and experiment with some different styles and colors. Make it fun! Maybe bring along a friend or two who can give a second opinion and tell you what message they’re reading from various outfits.
The 70s have come and gone, and so too have “actor blacks.” Don’t be afraid of colors! Matching the color family of your eyes is a tried and true way to go. There are also certain colors and fabrics that go well with different hair colors and textures. Find your power color that complements your skin tone and doesn’t wash you out. Patterns can be great too if they are working for you and are not distracting. Speaking of outdated audition fashion trends, most working actresses today will tell you that the days of the mandatory musical theatre audition uniform of a jewel-tone, fit and flare dress and a pair of nude pumps are over! Of course, if that outfit is you and makes you feel your best, by all means wear it! But do not feel obligated to fit that outfit mould if it’s not something you would actually wear. Some folks who might be auditioning you still love to see it, but many people are easin' on down the road to a brand new day. For all college auditioners, a nice, crisp dark wash pair of jeans and a semi-formal, flattering shirt is perfectly lovely. Here are some other great examples from recent MCA alumni!
My students these days are rocking everything from a funky jumpsuit, high-waisted patterned pants, a tasteful romper, a bold colored sweater with some statement jewelry, a well-fitted blazer with cool sneaks, a skirt and a solid colored top with some booties, black jeans and a patterned button down, a floral flow dress with some wedges, and more! Stay true to yourself and your style - if you’re a flower child, wear those bell bottoms and hoop earrings! If you’re a dark drama queen, get those black tights and plum lipstick! If you’re a flannel guy, you rock that flannel! Beware of following the latest trends too closely, as others will be doing the same thing, but don’t be scared to add your own personal spice to the mix. It will help them see who you are right away in the room.
Keep in mind a few notes on what not to wear. Remember to stay away from clothing pieces that are too tight, oversized, revealing, distracting, or physically constricting. You want to be able to move around freely in your audition without risking a fashion faux-pas or tripping over a baggy hem. Make sure whatever you choose is comfortable enough to keep you mobile, relaxed, and keep your mind off your clothes for a whole audition day. And save the risky necklines or hemlines for a different moment. Don’t let what you wear hinder rather than help your focus or theirs - the main event is your audition material! Again, your audition package should tell a story about yourself, and what you wear can be an important, helpful piece of that narrative. Your appearance is the very first thing they take in when you walk into the audition room, so use that to your advantage and make sure you’re dressing for the occasion (no yoga pants, sweat pants, or costume pieces), your age (plenty of time to be thirty, flirty, and thriving later on), and your general type (ask a mentor or coach if you’re not sure what this means).
And finally, don’t forget the footwear, y’all! Do not underestimate the power of a shoe that is not helping you. If you have never walked in heels a day in your life, forget them! They are not necessary, I promise, and the auditors will ask you to take off your shoes if you are clearly not comfortable in them. Some schools might ask you to kick off your heels even if you are comfortable in them! However, if you’re a cool heeled cucumber and can walk into and out of the room with ease and grace, heels can be a great way to give some people a confident, polished feeling. They also help some of us sing slightly better because of the way the spine aligns and our weight redistributes when we have heels on. Don’t wear character shoes - save those for the stage or for the dance call. But if you want the height without the flight risk, wedges or boots with a heel are a great way to go. A nice pair of flats or boots is also perfect. As with everything I have said in this post, to thine own self be true! For all of you guys out there, I would advise against awkwardly chunky or loud shoes, overly clunky boots, or sandals. Like your audition clothing, medium-dressy is the way to go. A pair of classic derby-style kicks, some groovy sneaks, or nice boots will be a shoe in! Wink.
You can dress yourself! You’re beautiful! Your monologues match your shirt and your shirt matches your soul! You’ve got 32 problems but a bar of music ain’t one! And neither is your outfit now. You’re ready. Go find something that makes you feel like the best, most comfortable, fiercest version of yourself and you will be perfectly dressing for the audition impressing. Happy closet hunting and break those stylishly-shoed legs!
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