Hello lovely readers! I know it’s been a while, but the spring seems to have gotten away from me with all of the concerts and lessons and competitions and performances. Now that we’re firmly into “jury” and “spring recital” season, I thought I’d take this opportunity to chat about a question that comes up every year around this time…dress codes.
No, I’m not talking about uniforms. I’m talking about what to wear for these juries and studio recitals. Oddly, it’s one of those things where I see participants too dressy or too casual when what we’re looking for is something in between – something that makes you look your best while not overwhelming you because, after all, we want to hear your voice and what you have to say through the music, not be distracted by what someone is wearing.
So to make this simple, here are some easy ideas to help you decide what to wear for a studio recital or jury:
1. Think to yourself – would I wear this to a church (or synagogue or mosque or to grandma’s house)?
If you wouldn’t wear it there, your outfit is probably not going to work for a jury or studio recital. Of course you can wear something stylish – always be yourself – but remember, we want to hear you and not be distracted by what you’re wearing. I don’t care if ladies are wearing pants and the gentlemen are in kilts as long as you look put-together.
2. Juries are not a time for high fashion or experimenting.
Be as fashionable as you want, but remember that your audience for juries or recitals is made up of your teachers (and parents), not your peers. We’re there to listen to you sing and communicate through music, so we don’t care if you’re wearing the latest style.
2. Check your skirt length.
Ladies, it should go without saying, however – if the front row can see up your skirt, it is too short. This means that if you are actually on a raised stage, the skirt appears shorter than it is. Most teachers will say dresses need to be knee-length (and that’s a good general rule), but anything shorter than mid-thigh starts to fall into that danger-category. Be careful.
3. Be comfortable (but not too comfortable).
This does not mean that you get to wear your yoga clothes to your jury. However, if you constantly have to adjust your hemline, waistline, collar, undergarments, or sleeves because they’re too tight or too long or too short...that is not a good choice. You always look more put-together and presentable when clothes fit properly.
4. Make sure you can walk in your shoes.
If you can’t walk without changing your stride or stand comfortably, the shoes are probably too high (or too tight).
5. Avoid dangling metal.
Ladies, this one is also for you – if your dress has dangling gold medallions that look awesome in the club, but make a lot of noise, this is not a good choice for a jury or recital because they make noise that distracts us from your performance. Some earrings fall into this category too, however they’d more likely affect your hearing rather than the audience…still not a great idea.
6. Things that are never acceptable.
· Ripped t-shirts
· Ripped jeans
· Athletic clothes
· See-through dresses or shirts
· Tops or dresses with huge cut-outs (with nothing under them)
· Micro-mini skirts
There are more that can go into this list, but I think you get the idea.
Exceptions to the rules:
Dark denim – For gentlemen, in professional audition situations a nice dark denim jean with a button down shirt and jacket is perfectly acceptable. Just skip the pair with the rips. College juries are a bit more conservative and may not appreciate this look so ask around before committing to it. Again, as long as you look put-together, it’s probably ok.
Ball Gowns and Evening Wear – Ladies, NEVER wear ball gowns to studio recitals, juries, professional auditions, or auditions for young artist programs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this and it looks ridiculous. Apparently there are some teachers that encourage this, but the reality of it is – their students are the only ones dressed this way. It’s an old-fashioned ideal and not in practice anymore.
Gowns should be only worn in final rounds of major competitions or for your graduation recital. An example would be the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions where even the NYC semi-final round on the stage is more dressy/cocktail rather than the gowns reserved for the finals. Some of the regional finals are in gowns, but again, it really depends so be sure to ask so you are not overdressed for the event. When in doubt, ask around or search for pictures of the previous year’s event to get a better idea of the dress code.
So basically, that’s it. We want you to succeed.
We want you to sing your best.
WE WANT YOU TO BE YOU and not to be distracted by something as innocuous as a pair of shoes.
Hope this helps narrow down your choices for your upcoming juries, studio recitals or future auditions.