What do female set PA’s normally wear on the job? Do I need to get a fanny pack? Cargo pants? Or are jeans ok?
You’re right to ask what a female PA should wear. As usual, the boys have it easier in the clothing department. On set, they wear jeans and a t-shirt; in the office, jeans and a collared shirt. If it’s hot, wear shorts. That’s it, you’re done.1
I’m not much of a fashionista; as long as the environmental conditions are met, and nobody’s seeing what they’re not supposed to be seeing, I don’t much care about what I look like. Most days, I don’t even wear make up, on the theory that an extra twenty minutes of beauty sleep will compensate for not applying mascara.
When you’re working on the set, the main thing, as VancouverPA pointed out, is to be comfortable. Don’t wear heels, don’t wear open-toed shoes. Wear loose-fitting tops and pants or shorts you can move around in.
And when I say “comfort,” I don’t just mean physical comfort. Although not everyone agrees with me, I would advise against tight fitting or low-cut shirts if you don’t want to be stared at all day.
A fellow PA holds a contrary position: “Let’s face it. If she has big boobs, people are still going to stare at her all day. In my opinion, anything goes. Obviously, if you’re wearing a mini skirt, then people are gonna think you’re a retárd.”
Probably true. Then again, I knew a girl who wore a sundress and pumps to set one day. Unable to walk faster than a toddler, and unwilling to do anything that might risk sullying her dress, she was basically useless for the entire sixteen hour shift. She also became the director’s favorite PA from then on. I think she’s still his assistant. I leave it to you to decide what to do with the information.
When it comes to accessories, you need to be careful with how much you have dangling off your ears, wrists, and neck. You don’t want to snag something on a C-stand, and get carried off by a passing grip. Or worse, a dangling bangle could touch a piece of electrical equipment it shouldn’t be anywhere near, and before you know it, you’re fried.
For carrying all the things you’ll need on set (pens, sharpies, call sheets, sides, walkies, batteries, etc), a fanny pack is a useful, if slightly dorky, option. I prefer cargo shorts myself, but Setwear sells a variety of tool belts that can come in handy. Of course, they charge an outrageous premium for the word “set.” You can find similar (or identical) items at a hardware store.
- Ironically, this is how male producers dress, too. If a production assistant doesn’t have a walkie on his belt (like, say, an office PA), it can sometimes be difficult to tell who’s in charge and who’s a lackey.
Female producers at least have the good sense to dress their station. They wear clothing I couldn’t afford in six months piloting my desk.↩