Carol Case responds - answers from the Costume Designer

Posted on Apr 27, 2010

Heartland Photo

Last week you had a chance to post a question for Carol Case, who designs the costumes all the characters wear on Heartland. We narrowed the questions down to 25 and Carol sent us back some really cool answers! For example, now you know in this photo Graham is wearing a jacket from Le Chateau and Amber's Cowichan - style sweater was bought at Aritzia.

Read away and enjoy!!! Next week we will have someone else for you to pose a question to.

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Q: hey Carol! i think you do an amazing job and the clothes that you pick are spectacular. my question is what inspired you to become a costume designer?

Posted by: Kris on April 19, 2010 at 01:2

A: As I come from a bit of an art background I have always been fascinated by the visual communication and all that you can discover from just looking at things. That curiosity combined with a passion for clothing of all periods made a job designing costumes a great match

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Q: I LOVE the outfits, very cute and always stylish. What are some of the stores where you get the clothing for the girls on the show? because I'd love some of the tops.

Posted by: Michaela on April 19, 2010 at 01:31 PM

A: American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch are two of my favourites but really, I keep my eyes open everywhere. I also do a lot of shopping over the Internet.

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Q: Ok...first Carol, Thank you for bringing the authentic Alberta feel to the clothing line used on the show, plus I would assume that you had a big hand in Lou's wedding dress, magnifico!!! Ok...where the heck did you find Ty's leather jacket? And are there backups incase one gets ripped? Thanks Carol...and looking forward to the beautiful and colourful clothing in the upcoming 4th season!!!!

Posted by: Dalaigh on April 19, 2010 at 01:44 PM

A: Yes we must always have backups. You never know - if something goes wrong and a piece of clothing gets wrecked during a scene it could spell disaster for the whole crew if the costume department was not prepared with a backup. As for that leather jacket of Ty's, it came from Le Chateau back in Season One. We actually own three of them.

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Q: Who is the easiest cast member to provide clothing for and who is the hardest cast member to find clothing for? Who is the pickiest to dress? They always look great and stylish.

Posted by: Sharon on April 19, 2010 at 02:50 PM

A: The guys are all a lot easier to dress than the girls. The casual look that Amy wears every day is more straightforward than the fashion stuff that Lou or Ashley wear but really it depends on the specifics of the scene.

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Q: I was wondering, when you design/buy the costumes, do you make them so that they go with the actors' skin tones and eyes and stuff? Or do you just make/buy it and go with it? You do an outstanding job of costuming the actors! Keep up the great work!

Posted by: Teri on April 19, 2010 at 03:25 PM

A: Everything I pick - whether it is made or bought - is chosen with the actors' skin and hair colour and body type in mind. With actors I am not familiar with (guest stars, etc.) the casting director will give me pictures so I can plan the look from that.

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Q: Hi Carol! I'll start by saying you do a great job - everyone one is dressed stylishly, but believable! My question for you is how did you go about dressing Mallory over the last couple of years to support her changing story line from cute kid next door to a teenage girl worthy of being an equal with the older girls of the family? Thanks for all your hard work!

Posted by: Laura on April 19, 2010 at 03:50 PM

A: We added a few slightly more sophisticated pieces each episode and still mixed them in with her "kid clothes," blending the look for a while and slowly getting more and more "older" pieces until we have what we are using now. This is a bit of an ongoing process with many of the Heartland characters who are going through transitions of age.

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Q: Hey Carol! Which character do you have the most fun choosing the clothes for? Is it sweet Amy, bad-boy Ty, swaggering Tim, or classic old Jack? (...or someone else?) Thanks for answering, and keep up the great work! (and enjoy that bread and cheese!) ;)

Posted by: Twe on April 19, 2010 at 03:53 PM

A: It's all fun, no matter who I am choosing the clothes for! The most fun is when you find the perfect piece that fits with the character and the scene he or she is in.

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Q: Hi Carol, I love how clothing pieces will turn up in two or more episodes. It's really realistic and fun to watch out for. I guess my question is: What was running through your mind as you had to plan out the clothing for Ty as his character evolved through season 1? Like, what kind of changes did you make as he started to open up more to Amy, if any? Thank you so much for answering questions, and I can't wait to see what new costumes Heartland (and you of course) have to show in season 4 and the movie.

Posted by: Milly on April 19, 2010 at 04:29 PM

A: In Season One Ty had a lot of very dark clothes and was quite covered up at the beginning and as we got to know him a bit better we gave him some colour (but not too much !), and also we softened things up a bit and added more hoodies rather than coats or more structured items.

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Q: Hi Carol! You do a fantastic job with the costumes! I like how you keep everything real and let some of the characters wear things more than once....like real life. Anyway, my question is: do the actors/actresses get to take some of the clothes home with them when they're done with them? Thank you!

Posted by: horseygirl on April 19, 2010 at 05:18 PM

A: No, we have a big warehouse that each character has a closet in so that we can use it all again in upcoming episodes.

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Q: Ok since this is actually what I really want to do I am going to ask two basic questions: What schooling did you do in order to become a costume designer? And how did you break into the field of doing this as a job?

Posted by: Amy on April 19, 2010 at 07:52 PM

A: I went to art school in England and took a theatre costuming course. After working in theatre for a long time I worked as an assistant designer for a number of films shot in Alberta. A lot of the skills from theatre transfer over to film.

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Q: I was wondering how hard it is to find a full wardrobe of clothing that does not have any logos or brand names on them? Do you make any of the clothes yourself?

Posted by: Lynn on April 19, 2010 at 07:59 PM

A: That's a great question, Lynn. And it is way harder than you might think. Sometimes we just remove the logo if it is possible or disguise it in some way. Some of the clothes are made, but a lot we have to purchase (time is never on our side). I do not actually have the time to do any of the sewing personally but I have a great crew who get the job done. (I can sew though, in case you were wondering)

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Q: Hello Carol. You do a very great job of the costumes, the characters suit their clothing very well, well done! :) Alright, my question is: What is your overall favourite outfit out of all the seasons of Heartland? Thank you so much if you answer, thanks, bye!

Posted by: Firefly on April 20, 2010 at 03:41 AM

A: Wow that's a hard one. Mostly I like the ones that I get to really put a lot of myself into and that work well for the actor and the scene. I was really happy with all the outfits for Lou's wedding especially the coat she wore over her dress outside.

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Q: Hi Carol! I love the outfits on Heartland and I wish I could have you as costume designer :'D That would be awesome. So... Back to my question! How close are you working with the cast? I mean... Do you ask them which shirt they would use for their characters or is that just your descision? Keep up your great work! Greets from Germany, btw ;)

Posted by: Tiishirt on April 20, 2010 at 06:38 AM

A: The whole process is collaborative. I set the look of each character with a lot of discussion between myself the producers , the director the art department and the actors. Once that has happened we have a fitting with the actors so that I can pick what looks best for them and their character and the scene they are appearing in.

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Q: Great job on the costumes Carol! I love how we see the same items show up in numerous shows, it helps with the flow of the episodes and makes it seem more like "real life"...I know I wear the same pair of jeans at least two or three times a week! My question for you is: do the actors ever wear some of their own clothes in the series and/or do they give you input on what they think their character would wear for a certain scene? Thanks and keep up the great work!

Posted by: Peg on April 20, 2010 at 06:48 AM

A: We do talk about styles and what people are comfortable wearing. Very seldom does anyone wear their own clothes because we often need multiples and also the characters will need specific things for specific scenes.
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Q: HI Carol; Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. My question is; What is the thought/decision process for choosing particular outfits for an episode? Thanks for your part in making
Heartland such a fantastic show!

Posted by: Kirsten on April 20, 2010 at 08:02 AM

A: After I read the scripts I break it all down to see how many outfits I need and what the specific requirements are (For example - does Amy need western riding outfits or English?) Then I look to see what we already have that we could use and after that figure out where the rest will come from.

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Q: I noticed that some scenes amber (amy) wears the same thing, such as a jacket that is true to her style. Are there more than one same piece of clothing, (do you have a couple pairs of one jacket) or is every piece an individual that is just washed, and re used?

Posted by: natalie on April 20, 2010 at 08:57 AM

A: Multiples!!! Multiples is my middle name. With Amy we often have up to 8 of any one costume piece. There are always stunts or riding or scenes that are filmed over many days so multiples is the operative word here.

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Q: hey carol! first of all i just have to say, what an amazing job you do. i have fallen in love with pretty much every outfit that amber has worn on the show. my question is...... how do you figure out each
characters sense of style? as in, what type of clothes they'd wear. amy always seems to wear casual yet stylish tops and jeans but lou is a bit more 'shorts and skirts'. jack is pretty old-fashioned so how do you choose each outfit? thanks for taking the time to answer the questions!

Posted by: Zoey on April 20, 2010 at 11:51 AM

A: I work very closely with all the creative departments and spend a lot of time trying to figure out the character of each person. Then I try to put myself into that person'[s head and imagine what they would choose to wear.

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Q: Greetings, Carol! As a fashion-challenged individual, I am always impressed by people who seem to have an innate fashion sense; who always seem to know just what will 'look good' on them, and on others. All the characters on Heartland just look like regular, down-to-earth types, which is of course the point (even when Amy gets to wear a dress from Paris!) Great job making them all feel (and look) like real people. Here's my question: If you could raid any Heartland character's closet, whose would it be?
Thanks for answering these questions!

Posted by: TC on April 20, 2010 at 09:22 PM

A: Lisa's - she always looks so elegant - even when working in a horse barn!

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Q: Hey Carol!!?I was just wondering...How do you pick what the cast is wearing? Do you choose according to what goes on in that episode , where it is , what time of year it is...?Well thank you Carol and by the way i LOVE the outfits on heartland they are just so .Amazing!!!?Thank you and
keep on creating those beautiful clothes!!!

Posted by: Angela on April 21, 2010 at 03:20 PM

A: Yes to all those questions and many more. I like to try to make things look as natural as possible so it has to look like real clothes on real people. That is the rule on a show like Heartland.

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Q: Wow, there are some awesome questions on here. Some people are bringing up points I never even thought about before, and now I'm dying to know. There are also a lot of questions, so I hope I'm not repeating what anyone else asked. I would like to know about the theory behind matching a character's costume to their personality. Do you consider textures, colours, specific pieces, or do you go by the overall feel? I'm asking this, because as I mentionned last week, I'm part of an amateur film group, and I'm involved in costume design for our next production. It's proving more challenging than I expected, so I'm eager to read your answers to the wonderful questions that have been asked.

Posted by: Key on April 21, 2010 at 05:31 PM

A: I really try to get into the character as much as possible and what that person would chose to wear in that particular scene. I also must consider the story we are trying to tell and how that could be best served with the costumes.

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Q: Wow you do such an amazing job! I love all the clothing. It's fabulous and so chic in a farm way. Anyways, my question is: was it hard to find Amy's dance dress( the one Lisa gave her in season 3 for the dance)? If you bought it somewhere may I know where? It's so beautiful. I just want it! Thanks so much Im such A fan of the show, Amy, Ty, Mallory, Lou, Jack and everyone. You do a great job with them!

Posted by: Allison on April 22, 2010 at 12:36 AM

A: Amber Marshall is a joy to work with so it wasn't too hard. I shopped for a number of dresses that fit the bill. It couldn't be too dark as were shooting at dusk and she had to look great and of course it was - in typical Alberta fashion - freezing! We tried on a number of dresses and the winner came from the shop BCBG Max Azria.

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Q: Hi Carol You do an amazing job on all of the costumes, i am so glad that you are the costume designer you just make the show that much better my question is how long does it take you to come up with each outfit and does it take longer for certain cast members, if so why? Thanks

Posted by: Ashley on April 20, 2010 at 10:13 PM

A: Well the women always take more time than the guys but I have 15 days to come up with the costumes for 2 episodes which is often close to 100 separate costumes.

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Q: hi Carol! I really like the outfits that you have designed. They are really awesome outfits. It would be awesome to have one! The cast members are lucky to have you as a costume designer! :) My question : What do you love most about being a costume designer?

Posted by: Shanna on April 19, 2010 at

A: I love creating a separate and unique look for each character and seeing how that look evolves over the season.

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Q: I really like the cowichan style sweater that Ambers character Amy wears. Is it a one of a kind or is it something any canadian girl can go and buy, if so where?

Posted by: JES on April 19, 2010 at 03:18 PM

A: Yes, it came from Aritzia last year, I have noticed though that a lot of stores are carrying very similar ones now so you might be lucky.

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Q: Hi Carol, First of all you do an amazing job choosing the costumes for the actors of Heartland. Ok my question is; What was Amber, Michelle and Jessica's reactions when you showed them the hot pink bridesmaid's dresses they had to wear for a scene in the series 3 finale : )

Posted by: The_Heartland_Fan on April 20, 2010 at 03:41 PM

A: We all had a giant laugh and the fittings turned into a bit of a party.

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