I’m often asked about what kids should wear to go-sees and auditions. I’d probably prefer to write more of a “What Not to Wear!” for the mommies, featuring me as a case study…but we’ll save that for a different day. There’s a pretty standard answer given by agencies when they tell you how to dress your kiddo, which is “the Gap look.” Honestly, I think it’s a pretty dated answer because if we’re talking Gap: 2015, that could be anything – they have a pretty wide assortment of clothes. I’m thinking this is more Gap: circa 1995, when solid polos, tees, and khakis reigned king. (Those of you Gen X’ers will remember the old chestnut, “Would you like socks with that?”) Maybe a better definition for today would be “a little preppy” but even that sounds kind of stodgy. I’m not going to go as far as, “Let your kid choose his or her own outfit!” because no one, including myself, wants to see my daughter in an Elsa t-shirt and stained leggings. I’ll share a couple of my standards, and you can interpret them as you wish.
I tend to aim for solid tops. I avoid anything overly colorful or emblazoned with giant logos, just because they may be distracting. The problem is, it’s actually hard to find things kids really like without something written on it. If you can snag some solid-colored shirts in colors that look good on your kids, just have some on hand and keep one or two in the mom-bag and slip it onto the kid before you walk into the casting. If your kid has a few words or a design on the shirt, just make sure it’s toned down and definitely not a rival brand to the one that is seeing you. My daughter’s go-to outfits have been tunic-style tops or swingy tops and leggings for cooler weather and cotton sundresses for warmer weather. Her “lucky outfit” was a Gap chambray (that really lightweight woven denim) shirt with a slight A-line that was tunic length with grey or black leggings. That shirt lasted for about two years. I loved that shirt and wanted one for myself. She’s outgrown it and I’ve replaced it with an Oshkosh version – same fabric but with small white polka dots – but it just doesn’t have that nice A-line cut and is a little shorter than I like with leggings. She’s also getting to be more of a girl than a little girl (or toddler, when she started!) so she’s wearing more jeans – which don’t go well with chambray, of course. We’re evolving.
In my consultation with boy moms, the same rules tend to prevail: jeans or khakis/cargo pants or shorts, and a solid shirt – again, to the extent possible. A surf board or lizard or something like that on a t-shirt is certainly not a deal breaker. A lot of moms like the “shirt-jac” look of an unbuttoned shirt serving as a top layer, just to add a little interest to the outfit. It can be easily removed if the CD wants less of a layered look. I also think you can never go wrong with a jean jacket – boy or girl. I think the look should match the kid’s style – if your son has long rocker hair, he’s going to look great in jeans and a baseball-style concert shirt. When in doubt, aim toward the style of brand that’s casting.
Notice I said the style of the brand that’s casting. Punk-rock is probably not going to work for Vineyard Vines…and Lilly Pulitzer might not be what Vince wants to see. (Although, I’ve been known to create great hybrid looks for myself. My beloved sophomore year English teacher told me my style was “Laura Ashley Gets Stoned.” I was NOT a stoner, but he was definitely onto something. And he had an eye for style. He was a theatre person. I’ve been known to wear a Lebowski t-shirt with Lilly Pulitzer shorts. It really tied the look together! But I digress…) I have a piece of advice, and I think many agents will be with me on this one. I advise AGAINST wearing the brand of clothes to the brand’s casting. Here’s why. Designers and stylists want the clothes shown in a size that fits the kid. And by “fits the kid”, I mean something we would call “too small.” We always buy our kids clothes a little “up” from what they wear at that moment, because we want them to wear the clothes for more than one day. If the stylist recognizes the brand on the child, the stylist may not like the fit – and think the child doesn’t look good in their clothes. Here’s a major fail that we experienced: two years ago, I dressed my daughter in the brand for a casting and she booked. Yay, me! Great idea! But I used that same mindset the next time we went to that company, and I put my daughter in the brand…and the agent was pushing my daughter “up” a little since she was almost but not exactly the right size…and the stylist LOOKED AT THE TAG in my daughter’s dress, saw it was smaller than the size they wanted, and BAM, I’m fairly certain that took us out of the running. I do know of one brand that supposedly looooves seeing the kids at castings wearing their clothes, but that kind of makes me angry since I think they just want you to go out and buy some, which I refuse to do. So, in general, I think your odds are better to aim for the “look” but not the exact brand. And…don’t dress your kid in overly large clothes. I don’t care if you think it’s your kid’s best outfit. Wear a less-great outfit that fits better.
My last tip would be to realize your kid might be trying on clothes at a casting. Try to think in terms of easy-off/easy-on – especially if your kid is older and would be changing himself/herself. Consider the shoes in this scenario as well. If you have a baby, a lot of castings actually like to see the baby in a diaper or solid onesie – so plan for that. Thirty-eight snaps and 4 layers will only hold everyone up.
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|The dress that worked at the casting...|