Professional Clown Guide to Costume Accessories

Everyone knows what a clown looks like, right? Colored wig, clown white makeup, one-piece costume, oversized shoes. But actually, contrary to what many of us have always thought, not every clown costume is the same. There are different types of clowns, and while each individual clown is free to chose certain elements to complement their character, other elements are type-specific and are an integral part of clowning history. 

The Whiteface Clown

White Face Clown

Whiteface garb differs, depending on the character.

The Classic (European) Whiteface is a jester, with soft shoes, baggy pants (worn loose or gathered at the ankle), a loose fitting top, a neck ruffle, and a soft pointed hat. Sometimes, a floppy hat or black skull cap is worn in place of the traditional pointed hat.

The Straight Whiteface dresses either all in white with a colorful trim, or in bright colors with contrasting ruff and trim. The suit is baggy, like the Classic Whiteface, but a skull cap and wig are usually worn instead of a pointed hat. Gloves are common.

The Grotesque Whiteface has exaggerated features. The suit will remain baggy, but is tailored to fit irregular body proportions (long stilt-legs, a big fanny, etc.), and is almost always colorful. The Grotesque Whiteface almost always wears gloves and a wig. 

The garb is the same for Female Whiteface clowns, though the makeup will frequently highlight feminine features.


Tramp Clown

There are different kinds of Tramps, but the costume is the same for all of them: a dark suit or tuxedo, heavily patched; tattered shoes; a derby or top hat (frequently without the top); and fingerless gloves. Some Tramps accessorize with brightly colored vests, long dark overcoats with lots of pockets, and walking sticks. 

Female tramps, called "Bag Ladies" usually wear sneakers, a frumpy dress, a scarf or cheap costume jewelry, and a kerchief or a floppy hat.

The Auguste

Auguste Clown

The classic Auguste look is the exact opposite of the Whiteface: an extravagant mismatched costume, oversized or undersized accessories (huge bow ties, small pants, etc.), bold colors, and large prints. Many Augustes wear suspenders and gloves. Female Augustes frequently sport long eyelashes, wear outrageous dresses, and carry purses.
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