What You Wear On Stage Can Reveal Too Much
Published: 19 March, 2022

Dress Disasters Waiting To Happen And How To Avoid Them

The default line is that it matters not how artists dress, for audiences have come to hear the music. It’s down to personal taste as to what is appropriate stage-wear. Delicate artists such as classical guitarists should not feel obliged to conform to conventional rules of attire, which are sometimes uncomfortable. I mean, who wants to see pluckers waddle on stage dressed up in 18th century tails (that’s the men), or billowing skirts 2 metres wide with matching frilly blouses (that’s everyone else)? Well, I do for one. I prefer them to some of the absurdly silly, inappropriate, ill-fitting, bad-taste, planet of the apes’ outfits which distract me from listening to some fine player or other.

It’s all very well to throw out the old rules, but it creates new challenges. For clothes define us whether we like it or not. In a concert dress-world of free choice, we are mercilessly exposed to appraisal and criticism (and may I add, ridicule!). Here is my rough guide to disasters waiting to happen and some suggestions for a sartorial way forward.

Black suit and tie – boring but safe. Short of ideas, man-player opts for the fail-safe, or so he thinks.

Black polo neck – has only one virtue. It’s making the statement “I am not wearing a tie”. Besides, black is not welcoming, it is funereal.

Black skirt, white blouse – OK as far as it goes. And how far is that – reveal cleavage, ankles, and thighs? The eternal female dilemma, more of this anon.

White polo neck – blokes and girls, unisex. You know what, I quite like this, except it reminds me of pretentious cocktail parties where a pianist tinkles the ivories in the background while the beautiful people chatter inanely.

Women wearing trousers – how could I possibly object? I don’t dare, except have you seen some of the trousers? Wrong size, wrong shape, wrong colour.

Hawaiian shirts – a statement screaming “I am not mainstream classical”. The bar is set high here: I am expecting classical/jazz/Brazilian flair all rolled into one performer.

Red socks – this is promising. Looks like he could be fun. But it’s a trap for the girls – what to wear above the socks? Which leads me to the female pitfalls….

Plunging necklines and revealing cleavages – you’ll get loads of hits on YouTube, but will anybody be actually listening to your playing?

Wide skirt, loose blouse – comfortable and sensible and calming on the eye, but are they matched? Check in the mirror. Better still, take advice and no, not from your boyfriend, he’s bound to say you look great.

Bare arms (girls) – I have observed that the skinnier the arm, the more likely the full spindly limb is on display from shoulder to fingertips. It is a complete distraction to the likes of me.

Bare arms (blokes) – you look like a wannabe 1980’s electric guitarist.

Bare arms with nylon sleeve cut-out for resting the right arm (girls) – this should be reserved strictly for private practice and never ever displayed in public.

Ivory suit, nice shirt, no tie (blokes) – this is my preferred mode, although I recognise the suit can be easily ruined by careless dry-cleaners. The chief virtue of this attire is that it is not any of the above.

Ivory suit, nice blouse, no tie (women) – Hey, you’re stealing my gear. What’s more, you are bound to look better in it than me. So forget it.

Thank you for reading

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