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The Actor’s Closet: Easily Thrifted Items to Have on Hand for Self Tapes

While “suggest, don’t costume” still rules the day when it comes to dressing for self tapes, it can be incredibly handy to have certain clothing items on hand for auditions. Keeping a small portion of your closet devoted to auditioning clothes that are kept clean and pressed can save time and panic later. Below are some affordable or easily thrifted items that could help to have on hand in a pinch.


Basic Commercial

Before getting into character types, it’s important to have the basics. For commercial auditions, this will usually be something in a solid color, and on the more cheerful side. Think the “Disney” version of you. 


Basic Theatrical

Same idea as commercial, but a more serious look. This might mean darker or more muted colors, possibly longer sleeves, something that makes you feel grounded.



Having a parental look will go a long way for commercial auditions and day players. Having a solid cardigan or polo you can throw on to look approachable and relatable can easily suggest the role. You want a slightly more conservative look for this one.



If it’s in your wheelhouse, having a flirty ingenue or vampy look might be something to consider. It’s a fine line to walk, as you still want to look professional.  Hair and makeup can also go a long way here.



Get yourself that grungy gray tank top or sober-worn tee. Having an appropriate jacket (army green, brown, or other darker earth tones) might also be a good idea.


Professional White Collar

Putting together a look with a blazer or suit can suggest lawyer, CEO, detective, personal assistant or any manner of white-collar professionals.


Professional Blue Collar

On the other side of the spectrum, a nice denim top you can roll up the sleeves on can easily transform you into a farmer, hometown waitress, etc.



Bring on the medical dramas! If you don’t have actual scrubs (though they can often be found in thrift stores) a solid color v-neck shirt can suggest a nurse or technician. For extra credit, a lab coat might be good to have on hand if you can find one.


Your Specialty

What is that one weird thing you always get called in for? The school nerd? The vampire/witch/supernatural type? If you have a niche, cater a look to it. This could be as simple as a pair of glasses.


Of course, no matter the item, you still want to make sure everything fits well and looks good on you. It is still more important to show off yourself than to have the perfect article of clothing. But having some versatility in your actor’s closet can help you suggest a character in an instant, and it’s one less thing to worry about when those quick turnarounds come.


Related articles:
Self Tapes — Acting Tips with Acting Coach Howard Fine
A Beginner’s Guide to Self Tapes
Why It Matters To Have a Great Reader for Self Tapes
Why Self Taped Auditions Are Good for Commercial Actors
What To Do When You Don’t Have Time To Prepare