That Time I Was a Costume Designer

A couple of years ago, I helped my friend Joe Garrity, along with my boyfriend and more friends, make a short film. That film is called Twinsburg and it has finally been released on Video on Demand!

Here is a trailer and a short synopsis of the film (also available via the link above for those on mobile). 

In a Midwestern town founded by identical brothers, thousands convene for the world's largest gathering of twins. Jerry, sentimental about his fading twin identity, reunites with his reluctant brother Paul for a weekend of revelry and re-connection. At turns playful and painful, their childhood tradition strains to find a place in their newly changing lives.

The film won Best Narrative Short at Napa Valley and Yosemite film festivals, as well as Best Short Film, Best Comedy, and Industry Choice Award at other festivals throughout the US and beyond.

My contribution to the film was rather minor, but a fun way to be involved. As you might have guessed, I helped out as the costume designer! Being a costume designer, I discovered, has very little to do with sewing and much more to do with shopping, wrangling accessories, and ironing. Lots of ironing. In a movie about twins, it also involved buying multiples of everything. Old Navy, which is affordable for an indie film budget and has a very generous return policy, was my best friend.

Costume designing, I came to learn, is more about thinking about clothes and how they convey identity. Identity, as a twin and as an individual, was a big theme in Twinsburg, and so this was very important. I barely have my own wardrobe figured out, so it was a new challenge to think about the characters and what they might wear and what it said about them.

Jerry, the sentimental (and some might say co-dependent) twin wears blue throughout the film. His colors, like his personality, are melancholy and soft. His twin brother Paul, in contrast, wears a lot of red, which may hint at some of his repressed anger and frustrations at his inability to connect with others.

Of course, the show-stopper garment of the film was the twin's outfit for Twins Day. This is the costume I get the most questions about, and it really is suitably silly for this movie. It is the ridiculous costume that Jerry forces his brother to wear for the festival, which he says he got at an estate sale. In real life, the blazers are from H&M and the pants from Old Navy, embellished with red bias tape and ribbon to give them their distinctive look. The Colonel Sanders tie is my favorite part, and took a few YouTube videos to learn how to tie just right (and then re-tie every time we had a new day of shooting). While I'd like to say that lots of intricate sewing was involved, these were mostly the result of some machine stitching and glue. Like most things made for the movies, they are not particularly stunning up close, but they look great on film.

There were also a few costume-related jokes. My favorites has to be the Ms. Twinsburg Pageant winners. They only appear on screen for about three seconds, but they totally make me chuckle. On the front of their sashes it reads "Ms. Twinsburg," but on the back as they walk by one of them has "Runner up" written on it. As if one of the twins were somehow deemed lesser than the other. Ha! Ok maybe this is really just funny to me, but I laugh every time I see it.

I certainly won't be going into a career in show business after this (only two more months until I finish my masters in public policy!), but it was a fun and memorable event. If you do happen to watch it, you may also catch me as an extra in a scene or two. Mostly, however, I just sat and knit on set while they did all the work. You can rent the movie, which is sixteen minutes long, here


  1. Very cool! I learned pretty quickly at the opera guild that costuming a one-time show is mostly praying to find the right thing at goodwill and then doing slapdash alterations and additions as quickly as possible. Not glamorous!

  2. those costumes are fantastic. it looks so professional!

  3. I am so impressed! Very cool!!

  4. Yes my niece is VERY cool, VERY smart and VERY creative! Great post Meg!


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