Clown costumes can, and should, be... whatever suits the personality of the clown's character!
The Whiteface Costume
Although the Whiteface Clown has different types of garb, depending on the character, there are specifics that have held fast throughout history and make each clown type recognizable.
The European (Classic) has been referred to as Pierrot but although they have the same origins, they wear different styles of costume. The European Whiteface Clown wears a well-fitting one- or two-piece outfit made of fancy fabrics that are adorned with sequins, braid, and many other types trim that make the suit sparkle in the lights. The one-piece outfit often has a bit of a pouf at the shoulders and can have a varied amount of pouf a the hips. Pale stockings and light-colored shoes enhance the elegance of the costume.
Pierrot usually wears a loose fitting top with a ruffle or oversized collar. Originally the pants were tights but evolved into baggy pants that can be either loose or gathered at the ankle. A floppy hat or soft pointed hat was originally worn but modern-day Pierrot may also wear a black skull cap. The female clown is called a Pierrette and dresses similarly, often with a costume made of more delicate, layered sheer materials.
The American version of this classic, the Neat Whiteface, traditionally dressed all in white, sometimes with a colored trim. The oversized suit, similar to the pierrot, is often three pieces, plus a hat. A skull cap is often worn instead of a wig; the make-up is neat, to highlight - rather than exaggerate - facial features. Moder-day Neat Whiteface clowns may be seen in just about any costume style or color - remembering that the Whiteface Clown dresses in coordinated colors and fabrics. Shoes may be anything from slippers to over-sized shoes. Gloves are required for competition.
The Grotesque Whiteface has irregular body proportions, whether a big rump, big nose, big feet or all of the above. The suit for this clown accommodates his unusual proportions, adding to his comical appearance. This clown usually wears a wig and a often a miniature hat.
The modern-day whiteface can be dressed as the typical Circus Clown with a billowing suit, gathered at the ankles and wrists. It can be one or two-piece, plus a ruffle at the neck and is usually made in bright colors with contrasting ruff and trims. It is just as appropriate for him to be dressed in a two-piece suit, even a brightly colored solid or print tuxedo-type coat with long tails.
Colorful wigs and exaggerated facial features are common, especially oversized smiles! Gloves are required on all Whiteface Clowns.
The Auguste Costume
Bold colors, large prints and patterns often characterize the Auguste Clown outfit. This clown may also have irregular body proportions - a big rump, big nose, big feet - much like the above Whiteface clown.
Oversized (or undersized), comical clothes are their trademark and accessories such as brightly colored suspenders or huge neckties are a common addition to the outfit. Gloves are required on all Auguste Clowns for competition.
The Tramp/Hobo Costume
Happy Hobo: Gone-Zo
Whiteface: Suzie Q
The costume is often a dark colored suit that can be excessively patched and/or tattered looking. A sloppy coat with many pockets and a brightly colored vest are also common.
A derby or silk hat, often with no top, finish off the look. For competition, gloves should be worn, if appropriate, on all Tramp and Hobo clowns.
The Bag Lady usually wears layers of clothing – a frumpy dress or skirt and blouse, perhaps a sweater and jacket over top. Add a scarf around the neck and some type of head wear. Bag ladies often wear worn sneakers or boots with droopy socks, perhaps a piece of cheap costume jewelry and, of course, carry a tattered bag or push a cart to hold their worldly possessions.
The Character Clown
The type of dress for the Character Clown is totally dependent upon the character chosen. Whether you're a Whiteface Tourist, an Auguste Keystone Kop or a Hobo musician, your clown costume can be as individual as you want to make it.
Various character outfits are available at costume stores; patterns are available at fabric/craft stores or outfits can be created out of your closet and an active imagination! In competition, gloves should be worn if the clown is Whiteface or Auguste and are optional for Tramp or Hobo.