Costume Budget for Musical Theatre

Aug 16, 2021 | Theatrical Costumes

Once we agree upon the costume pieces, I build a spreadsheet for the Costume Budget in Google Sheets. This could also be done in MS Excel. But Google Sheets is free and provides a secure, easy way to build a simple spreadsheet and share it. This helps when sharing it with the Director, the costume committee and the treasurer/booster board.

Costing the costume pieces

For each costume piece identified in the Costume Plan, I create a line that includes:

  • The name of the costume piece
  • The name of the role (or group of roles) that will wear the piece
  • The cost per piece
  • The number needed of the piece
  • Any expected shipping and/or tax charges
  • A formula that shows the total cost for that piece.

If the costume piece is found online, I pull the cost information from the website where the piece is found. For pieces that will be sourced locally, I estimate the price based on current pricing at GoodWill or other local shops.

Calculating the overall cost

Once I have listed all pieces, I add a formula that shows the overall total cost for all pieces needed.  This amount should be in the ballpark of (or below) the amount that the organization has budgeted for costumes for this show.  If the spreadsheet total is significantly higher than the amount the organization has budgeted (depending on the budget’s flexibility), then adjustments will need to be made to the plan.  I usually accomplish this by searching for lower prices for some or all of the costume pieces. 

Often board members and others will often suggest that costs can be lowered with custom-made pieces. Beware of this tactic, as custom pieces usually end up costing more than purchased pieces.

If I can’t find lower-priced options that meet the Director’s vision, I re-group with the Director and discuss costume plan adjustments that will be needed to meet the available budget.