How to decide what to wear to a casting call
Casting calls vary depending on the job, role and media type that you are auditioning for. Having auditioned for countless plays, musicals, commercials, films and TV shows and having sat on the panel at many castings the following advice comes from experienced eyes.
Theatre: Generally dressing 'towards' the character is fine for theatre auditions, for example, if you were being seen as the part of a soldier, you would not need to wear a soldiers uniform but combats and a plain T-shirt would suffice. Similarly, if you were being seen for a 19th century countess, a nice modern dress would be fine as they are not expecting you to turn up in a corset and lace! In my experience, it is always better to give a hint of the chracter that you are being seen for as opposed to dressing 'neutral' or in blacks. Neutral clothing shows that you have not thought about or researched the project or charcater, however much you might have. Of course, however, if you have been asked to dress 'neutral' or in 'blacks' or in a specific way then always follow the instructions or advice of the casting director.
Shakespeare and Period: In light of the previous passage, dressing towards the character is always best but do not worry too much about the specific period as you will not be expected to turn up in a corset! When being seen for roles such as Edmund (King Lear), Louis (King John), or Romeo (Romeo and Juliet)I would wear Black trosuers, white open-collered shirt and black shoes to suggest my status and give an air of formality yet remain myself. If, however, you are told of the specific period a Shakespeare is set in then, of course, dress towards that, for example, if the production was set in the Wild West then loose fitting, flannel type cloting would work best. Always, always, always follow the casting directors advice as they may want you to dress in a certain way.
Film and TV: For film and TV castings you will be put on tape and therfore how you dress is much more important than for theatre. For these auditions it is always wise to DRESS AS CLOSE TO THE CHARACTER as is comfortable for you and what is feasably and finacially possible. What I mean by this is, if you are going to a casting playing someone in a nightclub then dress as if you are going to a nightclub. If you are going for a casting as a GP, wear a suit. If you are going for a casting as a soldier in Iraq and you have a camouflage uniform then wear that. Don't, however, spend loads of time and money trying to source the 'perfect' outfit or, again, worry to much about period. You just need to be a bit more savey than for theatre as you will be on camera. Do be creative with what you wear and try and be as 'like' the charcater as you can whilst remembering that you will probably have to get the tube and walk through central London first. Also, use your friends and relatives as resources, I once borrowed a nurse's outfit for a Casualty audition, for example. Facebook can also be great for this-write on your wall what you are looking for and you'll be amazed how much responce you get. Again, if giveen specific instructions on what to wear then follow these as closely as you can.
Commercials: You will often be told how to dress for a commercial casting, however, if you are not then the rule is simple: DRESS AS THE CHARCATER! You MUST dress as close to the charcater as you can, you must BE the character from start to finish. Luckily, for commercial castings we are normally seen for people not too much unlike ourslelves and so, this is not too hard, but small changes in your attire can make all the difference. You may also get very little information about the charcater or a very general description so work with what you've got, for example, if it says; 'asiprational, young, good looking teenagers' then dress as that; do you hair, make sure your skin is clear, don't wear too much make-up, look at current trends etc... Another really good tip for commercial castings is RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! You can find previous adds from the compnay, brand or products on YouTube-dress as others have done, if appropriate, use all the help the internet and marketing can give you. Above all, remember that for Commercial casting you are essentially 'Selling' a product or service and thats the way that the casting director/client will look at you-they want to SEE the finished product, not make a leap of imagination.
Musical Theatre/Dance Calls: For MT auditions you will often have a dance call. In this case, suitable clothing must be worn. There may, however, be an opportunity to change for your singing/acting call so always BRING OPTIONS with you but don't get dissheartened if there is not an opportnity to change. Still dress towards the production or charcater you are going for, for example; baggyish/loose clothing would be fine for 'Hair' for example but definatly tights/leotard for 'Phantom of The Opera'. Also, if the show requires a lot of dancing they will want to see how your body moves so clothing that is too loose is not advisable. As always, pay attention to what they ask you to wear and ALWAYS research the show and whatch it if possible. This will give you ideas of how you can subtly customise or choose what you will wear to your casting.
Hair/Make-Up: ALWAYS make sure that your face can be seen. Eyes and the face are the windows to the soul so if they cannot be seen then you cut your amazing acting performance by half! Tie/pin long hair back if appropriate and make sure it is not covering the eyes! As far as Make-Up is concerned, I would always be as natural as possible UNLESS THE ROLE REQUIRES. A casting director will want to see YOU and see YOU playing the role and too much make-up can detract from your performance. A natural foundation and cover-up is normally fine. Also, for Film/TV auditions powder can also be useful if you have oily or shiny skin as this will show up on screen. If you are asked to wear full make-up, it specifically says it in the character breakdown or it is essential to your performance then, of course, go with that, but be wary that it is absolutly essential before slapping it on!
Above all, my main advice for what to wear to a casting is something that you feel confident in. The worst thing in an audition is feeling self-consious or underconfident, particularly if it is about what you are wearing. Dress in clothes that enhance your ability, talents and performance, anything that hinders this, however appropriate, HAS TO GO!