Female Dress Code

RL asks:

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?

Ashley and VancouverPA have already chimed in, but since it’s my pseudonym on the blog, I figured I should answer the question, too.

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.

That fucking lens flare followed her around all day, too.
Ready for work, boss!

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.

They even sell belts just for girls! Tee-hee!2

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. 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.

  2. Sigh.
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10 Responses

  1. I wear comfortable and durable boots with skinny jeans and t-shirt. Always bring layers though. My biggest tip is hiding my tools in the top of my boot. It’s the perfect place to hide my phone, sharpie, and leatherman.

  2. I typically wear ‘boyfriend’ shorts with either a racer back tank top or v-neck t-shirt. I also have a light weight white jacket if I know I’m going to be in the sun a lot to prevent my shoulders from the sun. I bought a cool little fanny pack off etsy, but I need to get a bigger one. Depending on the location I either wear sneakers or my Tom’s. But since I’ve been working in the locations department I tend to wear my Tom’s more, I don’t suggest them for set PAs who stand all day though.

  3. LOL VJ! Thanks for the ideas ladies, I haven’t rocked cargo pants since high school but I’m gonna get a pair and see what happens.

  4. I’ve PA’d for over 3 years now and have worn everything from skinny jeans to athletic shorts. I currently sport a sweet North Face fanny pack to keep my pens and things, while I force my call sheets and sides into my back pocket or hang them on my walkie mic clip. My otterbox also came with a belt clip which looks absolutely ridiculous but I rock it anyway. Asics/Nikes everyday and maybe a necklace with a v-neck tee. No makeup. Done.

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