“Socks aren’t sexy,” says Gittings. “It’s hard to look sexy if you’re standing in your underwear with your socks on,” which Alex does in Act one. Although New York males would certainly wear them in winter, even in dishabille, “here’s an instance where the aesthetic wins out over the practical. No socks.”
“Layer” design, says Gittings, is the opposite of “character at once”: costumes reflect ongoing changes. In Little Dog, everyone starts with a veneer that conceals their turmoil — and that slowly cracks. “So you begin with clothes that reflect the surface, then chip away.”
Mitch, the movie star, almost changes completely. “He’ll always have a tailored silhouette,” says Gittings, who starts him in a modern tux — “but one Johnny Depp might wear, not Martin Scorsese” — then gradually shifts to a lighter palette in California.
Diane, the agent/wannabe producer, has a “power silhouette,” says Gittings. “She’s all pulled together in a slick, high-money look.” Even her spiked shoes reflect status. “The richer you are in New York, the less you have to walk — thus, the higher the heel.
“Costumes should support the actors and the story,” says Gittings. “The focus should always be up here” — she waves a hand across her face. For this reason, after a careful discussion, Gittings and Karson St. John decided to tone down Diane’s flashy nail polish to a less upstaging hue.
Little Dog roars with ironies, including one for Gittings. Amid her countless choices and fine-tuning of 19 costumes, the last scene throws her overall design for a loop. “Costumes should support the characters, right? Well two of the outfits, believe it or not, must break all the rules. They should actually look like costumes!”