Costume Designers For Independent Films Share Their Secrets And Tricks To Scoring Cute Clothes On A Budget

Costume designers for independent films undoubtedly have my creative respect, because they have a lot of people to dress in a lot of scenes and very little money to do it with.The average costume budget on an independent feature ranges from $9,000 to $20,000 and Fashionista got some indie movie costume designers to spill on how they create entire wardrobes for independent films on a limited budget.

I've always bowed down to indie films for getting everything done on said tight budget in general. I mean, to me $500,000 is a fortune that I could live off of for approximately 20 years. But in the film industry, it's considered a pittance when you're creating a film compared to Furious 7's budget of $250 million. So yeah, as a lady with a budget, I can appreciate the penny-pinching it takes to make somewhat limited funds work.

As is to be expected, thrifting and vintage-hunting for some perfect pieces that are unique and budget-conscious are huge in the industry. Costume designer Ciera Wells' vintage shopping advice is actually the best: "You map out what you're looking for, then you go see what you find," she told Fashionista. "With this one, I did some rough sketches. I knew the shapes and what look I wanted for each scene, but not specifics. I try to be very open." Not getting tunnel vision when vintage shopping helps you be open to finding treasures you weren't expecting and may even be better than what you were looking for.

A major way they keep the budgets down is probably one of the ways you avoid spending a fortune on clothes yourself: borrowing. Costume designers, they're just like us. Well, maybe not so much. Have you ever watched indie flicks and seen characters that seemed super-relatable, but were like better versions of the people you actually knew? You know, like even though the title character of Frances Ha is kind of a mess she always looks adorable and comes across as endearing overall? Whereas in real life, you're trying to stretch the last few days out of your Forever21 shoes because you don't get paid until then and your credit card is maxed out from groceries. Yeah, that's because the costume designers are able to score designer clothes even on a limited budget.

While you have friends' closets to peruse, costume designers get to borrow from designer show rooms and may end up keeping some of the items if they're worn extensively during shooting. Yeah, that would definitely never fly with my bestie: "Oh, I just kept your dress because I didn't want to return it after wearing it so much!"

They also get to use their platform to trade clothes for product placement — when it makes sense. Designer Emily Batson explains that having Adidas and Converse sponsor the shoes in a movie about high schoolers that featured a football team made sense, but she's careful about her partnerships, saying: "I'm not really into selling people's brands unless it's serving the story."

Unless you're a pretty major blogger who's getting her clothes sponsored, you're probably not going to be getting free clothes for just being you. Sorry. It's a bit disappointing news, especially since many of us feel a kinship to the characters we see in indie movies whose lives and personalities are often more realistic representations than the women shown on screen in blockbuster films. However, it is the movies, indie or not — what did you really expect? I still have huge respect for the work and creative vision it takes to create these cohesive looks and not just clothe people, but tell a story through their outfits.

Images: No Trace Camping and Caramel Film; Giphy