Facepaint UK Blog

What to wear Part 1

Mar 15, 2017

What The Well Dressed Face Painter is Wearing

Caro and Bibi chat about clothes!

Caro: I read that trousers are going to be narrow again and that even leggings are coming back into fashion. Can it be true? I used to have a facepainting uniform of black leggings and a big Face T-shirt that I thought covered a multitude of sins.

Bibi: I remember it well, we all used to go to work looking like Max Wall. Well I did anyway. The important thing is to be comfortable and leggings are stretchy so that's good, but a quick look in the mirror will tell if they are working for you. I've decided they don't for me any more!

Caro: It seems unlikely that we could both look good in them, given our different shapes.

Bibi: Mmmm There was a time when the addition of legwarmers was acceptably trendy and functional too - cold ankles are miserable. I now carry a pair of warm fluffy socks in my car just in case the British weather gets me. At times my stock of leg warmers still gets an airing under my now wider legged trousers. Clients always seem to be optimistic about the weather and sometimes stick us outside in appalling conditions.

Caro: I never really took to leg warmers; as my ankles are my best bit I am not keen to cover them up. I am not sure what the well dressed face painter should wear, when I started out I had a voluminous clown suit (which I have now grown out of). Face painting was not a recognized entertainment and somehow a clown costume advertised that I was official and not just anyone offering to daub the kids.

Bibi: You don't mean like this surely? ('this' is a link to all that's wonderful about American facepainters' outfits!)

Caro: Not quite! However as face painting became de rigeur at events, I started to wear all black; I think I thought it looked a bit French and arty.



When Lococo was at the height of its success I used to insist that everyone wore multi tartan trousers and black T shirts and red or black berets. I think I had got a bit power crazy, but the multi tartan trousers were great and didn't show the paint. We had ten or eleven painters in tartan trousers at the Dome.

Bibi: I loved the Tableau Vivant's suits, each one an individualised artwork and with such a strong performance feel. Their website has a video clip.

Caro: Yes and everyone can look good in that sort of overall I wonder if we should produce something like that for this website.

Bibi: I am not sure how it would go down in England; it is a very French look.

Caro: It is funny how we keep referring to the French as if we were looking to them for fashion guidance, even in our facepainting gear.

Bibi: There is a serious issue here because while one wants to look professional we do have to consider what we do, and it can be quite messy. I think trousers are a must, as we have our legs akimbo. Personally if I am working on my own I like to wear colourful trousers with an elasticated waist band and a colourful top. I favour turquoise as it is a healing, calming colour. The Steiner School that my sons were at had strong ideas about colour and what the teachers should wear. Claret was out. I guess it is all linked to auras and what they reflect, your mood affects your aura and the discernable colours around you so it is important not to wear a colour that "says" aggressive, for your own sake as well as those around you.

Caro: Damn, I like claret especially in a glass. Anyway you know I don't believe in that sort of thing. Pass the bottle. It is all very well but there are days of the month when one just wants to wear a voluminous claret coloured skirt.

Bibi: Ah well, I have the answer for that - it's called a moon cup.

Caro: A moon what? No mooning perlease!

Bibi: Why don't more people know about this? Go to their website for full gory information (do it now!), but it is like a backwards diaphragm that means no more landfill, no more embarrassment and no more claret skirts! And you save loads of money!
What do you feel about sandals? I always wear backless shoes because I like comfort but hate my toes, but I think shabby shoes often let down an outfit, there is nothing worse than booking someone and they turn up looking scruffy. Even if they can't paint very well, if they look good they can do a professional job, but if a performer looks scruffy it doesn't matter how good their work is as first impressions count with the general public. If I am booking a team I sometimes ask everyone to wear black trousers and black T shirts as that is easy for most people. I hate specifying what colleagues should wear but if I don't sometimes people turn up looking really too shabby.

Caro: I can't wait to get into my Birkenstock sandals but I do always paint my toe nails, I don't know why but I feel that is smarter. Some agents frown on trainers, so they're a no no, which is a shame for something so practical. I am so glad you mentioned the elasticated waistband because if you need one, without an once of fat on you, I don't feel so bad. It is a long time since I wore anything except elastic, when one is sitting and leaning forward one must wear something with a bit of give or it will gape at the back. The new hipster jeans are definitely out, the Y from the compulsory thong underneath is not a pretty sight.
Actually having said all this I often go out in a silly costume, I have been a wench and a pirate and an alien and a cave woman. I charge extra for costume, especially if I have had to hire or make something, do you?

Bibi: Yes, I relish dressing up as long as I can choose something I can still work in. My favourite was a whole month as a pirate, and the most spectacular was another month as an alien with tubes coming out of my head and everything. I drove there every night all dressed up, and no one seemed to notice. It was tricky to work in, but fun! And we were only doing transfer tattoos which is a doddle. I have one client who keeps thrusting the most inappropriate costume at us and thinks we're being awkward saying "No" to wide brimmed hats and clothes you can't lean forward in! Whatever the costume, you do have to still be able to work in it and I agree if they want costume I add a bit on to the fee whether they provide it or not. You have to be 'in character' which takes effort!

Caro: Good, me too. So what do you think we should be recommending to our students? Never wear jeans or trainers, have a supply of black t shirts and trousers or put together a colourful wardrobe just for facepainting. It's a bit vague.

Bibi : It is tempting to design something, I do know that having a working outfit is really valuable because when you have to get everything together (and probably get the kids reliably minded too) to go out to work, worrying about what to wear is the final straw.

I would say the well dressed face painter might wear:
* Crushed velvet elasticated waist trousers that don't show creases after all that driving (my personal favourite).
* A t-shirt with fitted sleeves no longer than the elbow so they don't trail in the paint. And remember that you will be leaning forward, so watch out for exposed cleavage or worse! Close fitting is best.
* Perhaps a personalised waistcoat that can be expendable if the client doesn't want you to advertise yourself.
* A sun hat or baseball cap to shade your eyes, (don't wear sunglasses, they make you look unapproachable and may distort the paint colours).
* Smart and comfortable shoes or sandals. Scruffy footwear is a terrible giveaway. You can judge a facepainter by her shoes it seems! And remember you may have to trail yourself and your kit over half a rutted field!
* Finally, the most useful item I have is a scarf! It can protect you from extremes of weather, add colour and does not restrict your movement. I found a brilliant huge silk scarf in India, dyed in lovely rainbow colours that squishes into my bag.
* A hair clip, if you have long hair like me it can make you hot, blow in your face and generally look straggly.
* A coat or jacket that will keep you warm when they haven't told you that you're outside, baggy enough to move in and isn't so precious that you mind getting a bit of paint on it. The ubiquitous fleece I guess.

Shall we ask our members for their ideas, and perfect outfits?

Caro: Oh yes, let's!

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