Nobody wants to feel out of place when they go to a symphony concert, yet so many patrons wonder if what they are wearing will be acceptable. As helpful and welcoming the orchestras try to be by inviting patrons to wear what they want and emphasizing to come in what is comfortable, many people still want to feel like they are fitting in.
If you show up to a concert and sincerely don’t care what you wear, that’s just fine! You are doing what many orchestras invite you to do. But if you are the type of person who needs an idea of what to wear, are concerned you will be over or underdressed, or want some kind of guideline, I’ve come up with a simple guide to give you confidence in your attire for your next concert experience.
Consider the starting time
Afternoon Matinee Concert
- Women: Pants are fine. Jeans are fine, just bump it up a notch. If you wear jeans, wear a dressier top, wear fancier shoes, and add an interesting piece of jewelry. Dresses and skirts are fine, but keep the sparkles for the evening concerts.
- Men: Slacks or jeans with a button down shirt.
Regular Evening Concerts
- Women: Dressier pants or skirt and blouse, or a dress. Dresses can be a variety of lengths.
- Men: Dressier jeans with a blazer or trousers with dress shirt. Suit and ties also work nicely.
Galas, Fundraisers, Special Events
- Women: Dressy slacks and blazer, Cocktail dresses, full length gowns. If you worry about being underdressed and don’t have a gown or cocktail dress, a sharp black outfit whether it’s pants or a dress, will usually help. No jeans.
- Men: Even if the event says “Black Tie” you will likely see many men in suits. So a nice dark suit is fine, unless you are with a group from your company and everyone has agreed or is expected to wear a tux or tails. No jeans.
Consider Ticket Cost
If the average price is $20 or less for a symphony ticket, you’re likely looking at a lighter fashion commitment. However if the average price is somewhere in the $60 on up range, you’re looking at a bit dressier.
Consider Concert Type
A pops concert is not going to be as formal as a regular classical symphony evening; most people tend towards jeans or other casual attire. A children’s concert is a more relaxed than a regular classical symphony afternoon matinee concert. A concert advertised as a Gala or fundraiser is usually the dressiest possible.
Call the Symphony Offices
If you feel pretty good about the guide I’ve put together so far but still feel uncertain, don’t hesitate to call the symphony offices. They will likely tell you to come in what you feel comfortable, but they can also tell you what the majority of patrons generally wear.
Own Your Look
If you are still feeling insecure about your outfit, have gone through all the steps, have called the symphony offices, and asked all your friends what they think, then just own your look with confidence. Wearing what you want is fine, just stand up straight, look like you meant to dress exactly that way, and walk with purpose. If you are the only person wearing jeans, you are probably making someone else wish they had worn theirs! The moment you decide you are not dressed right, or not fitting in, you will forget the whole reason you came to the concert in the first place.
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