Updated: Mar 15
Concerts will resume again post covid. Stock up on these versatile pieces to complete your concert wardrobe!
By Shelley Mathews
The contract says to “wear concert black” under Performance Attire. If you identify as male, your choices are a nice suit or tux, but if you identify as female, you are left with many choices, even with everything being black. These versatile and classic pieces are essentials to keep you inspired and polished before you step out on stage.
“Pleats have made an appearance again the last few seasons, but should definitely have staying power as an addition to your concert wardrobe.”
The comeback of the jumpsuit has officially made it a timeless piece. Black jumpsuits, in particular, are both stylish and comfortable, flattering and come in many different styles and fabrics. Try for a sleeveless jumpsuit with a medium weight fabric, sash tie, and belt. It can be paired to accommodate dress codes with a blazer or cardigan, and then recycled in the Spring and Summer for outdoor performances and chamber music concerts where the dress code may not be so particular. The bad news. Ask yourself, how patient you are with having to deal with the restrooms during intermissions? More importantly, how patient are your colleagues if there are limited restrooms backstage?
Since so many dress codes require at least ¾ length sleeves, many performers are left having to piece together concert attire. Thankfully, there is a more formal alternative to a black cardigan - the bolero top. Bolero tops function like cardigans but are often more fitted, have higher quality fabric, and are cut to make your dress or gown look like one piece when put together. The best part about the bolero top is that since they are often in higher quality fabrics, sometimes in lace and light sequence sleeves, you can wear a dress or gown that does not have to be of the same quality of material when pairing. An ordinary black sleeveless dress can become extraordinary with a high quality bolero top.
A smart blazer or sharp looking blazer will have the same effect as a bolero top in polishing off your concert black. Aim for a mid weight fabric and be mindful of what it will feel like playing and performing in this. Ask yourself, can I move my arms and play with ease? Wonderful pairings are with a jumpsuit or a longer length smart blazer with more fitted pants. Have a long drive home or just want to feel more relaxed in the car after a stressful performance? You can hang your blazer up on the dry cleaning hooks in your car and be nice and comfy.
Everyone should have a maxi dress in their concert attire! Most maxi dresses are inexpensive and sleeveless and are easily paired with cardigans, bolero tops, and blazers to become more dressy. They are super comfortable and travel well. You often don’t need to have a travel gown bag to travel with them. And now for the best (often unsaid) part. This is the perfect thing to wear when you do not feel good, are bloated, and maybe even pregnant. Maxi dresses will have you looking elegant and feeling (more) comfortable when you are feeling miserable.
Lace sleeve tops have become a mainstay since the Royal Wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William. Even in black, lace sleeves are still very soft and feminine and can add more visual interest from the audience’s perspective, especially in the balcony section. If you run hot, or your stage runs hot in performances, this breathable fabric provides elegant relief. You may already have a dress or gown with lace sleeves, but a lace top will still be a wonderful addition to your wardrobe. Do you have a pair of concert pants that never get worn but you still like? Lace tops will ensure that you do not forget about any pants or skirts on your wardrobe that you might otherwise neglect.
Long pleated wide leg pants or skirt
Pleats have made an appearance again the last few seasons, but should definitely have staying power as an addition to your concert wardrobe. Wide leg pleated pants will look the same as a long pleated black skirt but will be easier to walk in (or run to your car after). Like the jumpsuit, a black pleated skirt or pants will be comfortable and keep you from being despondent in a regular long black skirt, with little to no visual interest.
Black emergency shoes
Black emergency shoes, meaning a pair of concert shoes you keep in the trunk of your car. Has this ever happened to you? You run out of the house dressed for a performance, but you travel to your car and backstage in flats, trainers, or flip flops. You have enough to worry about already on an opening night - and then - no shoes. Perhaps you say, that will never happen to me. Until it does.
These pieces should all work well together to maximize wear out of your existing wardrobe as well as provide enough inspiration no matter the program you have to perform. As always, check with your existing dress codes to make sure everything is within the set rules.
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