Concert Attire

February 26, 2012 at 07:25 AM · I'm in my local youth symphony and many people have tuxedos, I don't. Is it really necessary? tuxedos are very expensive, do you guys have any suggestions as to where these people get them, and if they are really necessary?

Replies (28)

February 26, 2012 at 07:43 AM · No, it's easy to get a "tuxedo-like" suit for very cheap. It's a youth symphony for heaven's sake.

All you need is black dress pants, a black suit coat, and as long as you have the white dress shirt with a bow tie it's not really noticeable from far away.

As an alternative option, if you absolutely must have a "real" tuxedo with the stripe on the pants, you can visit this place: You can get a complete set with pants, jacket, shirt, tie, cummerbund, and cuff links for under $100. If you're not wearing it more 8-10 times a year, this is a fairly cost-effective solution.

Wool is nicer than polyester, but it costs a bit more.

February 26, 2012 at 11:24 AM · What is new in this thread is the extent to which this topic applies to youth symphony orchestras. Gene Wie has made good comments. The rest of the topic has already been quite extensively covered in the Weekend Vote discussion of April 9, 2011. I accessed this by typing tuxedo in's search box.

February 26, 2012 at 02:24 PM · The dress code - even for an amateur orchestra, where I sometimes serve as a 'ringer' - is usually set by the conductor. But yes, a cheaper approximation of a tux as indicated above is do-able.

February 26, 2012 at 06:49 PM · Is it necessary to wear a tuxedo when you have an orchestra performance?"

Only if management requires a tux. Find out from them what the precise requirements are. If you can't pin them down on this, or if a real tux puts you over budget, then go with a cheaper approximation.

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For the above-mentioned Weekend Vote item, click here.

Check out also Ditch the Tux?

February 26, 2012 at 08:14 PM · The normal policy for my chamber orchestra is men wear black, with white shirts and black ties. Whether a tuxedo is worn is up to the individual; just as long as it looks black to the audience. The ladies also wear black. However, in summer concerts the men play without jackets and ties but with black shirts. The ladies are invited to wear something colored.

If we have the occasional private or semi-private gig then the dress code is likely to be smart casual (but no jeans).

What the conductor wears is of course his choice – it usually turns out to be something that distinguishes him from the orchestra (useful for us to be able more easily to see something light-colored against the dark background of the hall).

February 26, 2012 at 08:58 PM · I'd ask the conductor what s/he prefers, and then ask around where people got what they are wearing. My brother did great with Good Will...had to dry clean the jacket, but otherwise, for $10 he was on easy street.

February 27, 2012 at 12:23 AM · I'm surprised that there's much of a question here. I've never been to a gig where this wasn't settled by the last rehearsal, and often long before. And it's usually the conductor or the personnel manager that makes it clear.

But anyway, here's an amusing story in this regard. I used to play in an orchestra that specialized in performing with choruses in Carnegie Hall. The dress was to be tux for the men. At the dress rehearsal one young fellow came up to me and asked me if I had an extra white shirt, as he'd forgotten his. "Of course not" I said. Why would I carry an extra shirt? An extra bow tie, maybe. "What will I do?" He asked? "You'll just have to look around the area after the rehearsal and find a store that carries one".

"What a loser" I uncharitibly thought to myself. Well, minutes later I discovered to my horror that I had left my tux jacket home, with the bow tie inside it! Now it was MY turn to scrounge around for a replacement. I decided not to invest in a new jacket, but bought a black sweater, and indeed, from a distance, sitting in the middle of the section, I didn't stick out, and nobody said anything. But it kind of served me right!

February 27, 2012 at 04:28 PM · You should really play in the altogether as this gives you complete freedom, and you usually look good, especially if you are female. I went back stage last night after a quartet concert and the female leader was playing naked, or so the second fiddle told me, but I was too shy to look behind the screen. (And my wife was monitoring everything too ...)

February 27, 2012 at 04:57 PM · This is actually an on-going pet peeve of mine.

I have no issue with a dress code...whatever it may happen to be...but I don't understand why some individuals just won't conform.

As mentioned, it doesn't have to be expensive or the latest style or anything at all prohibitive.

In our community orchestra the men wear tuxes or black suits and the women are to wear black on the bottom (slacks or skirt) and white on top.

There are a couple of women who just won't wear that...and blue and cream is NOT at all close to black and do stand out. Nor is all black the same as black and also stand out. And black on the bottom means black shoes too...not red...(and please, no Crocs or Dawgs).

...I'd better stop...or I'll go into full rant...;)

February 27, 2012 at 05:50 PM · People who worry about dress code need to get a life ...

February 27, 2012 at 06:15 PM · To show respect for, and and make an effort to adhere to, a particular dress code shows respect the group you're apart of and respect for the long respected formality of classical music.

It's a shame that people on stage think that we should perform dressed like a street pedestrian. It's also laughable that we spend countless hours and dollars to master our craft...all for the purpose of performing and then we show up wearing our casual - why should I dress up for my audience look. If you hate dressing up occasionally then get out the public performance game. And if you're a professional musician and hate wearing your concert attire...what were you thinking by becoming a professional musician in the first place.

People who don't "worry" about the dress know who you are; the ones who appear to think that they're special, and know better than those around them usually show up to perform in whatever they want. They are also the ones who generally make the group look tacky with their non-uniform color selections, mini-skirts, fish-net stalkings, white socks, colored shoes, and other odd accessories. There is nothing wrong with wearing this stuff - just do it off the stage.

February 27, 2012 at 07:24 PM · Ebay is a great place to find a cheap tux. I buy new tux pants almost every year for 20 buck or so plus shipping.

February 27, 2012 at 07:44 PM · Bev wrote,

" stalkings...."

True, fish-nets do tend to attract stalkers. ;-)

February 27, 2012 at 08:12 PM · I fully agree with Bev...conforming when it's appropriate doesn't mean you can't be 'individual' on your own time.

We're a visual, social society. What we wear, when we wear it, how we wear it all give off important/powerful signals of how we fit into our society.

February 27, 2012 at 08:23 PM · This is all total rubbish - just play - we don't care what you look like. If you can't sound good, but only look good, then get out of the music profession, or teach.

February 27, 2012 at 08:33 PM · Peter, I don't think people who can't sound good should teach either, to be honest.

As for Parth's question: you're asking the wrong people. Call up someone in charge of your youth orchestra and ask them.

February 27, 2012 at 08:50 PM · I prefer it when you sound good AND look good. ;)

February 27, 2012 at 09:30 PM · I don't mind what the dress code is provided somebody tells me!

Peter - don't know about playing in the alltogether. There are a lot of players I know who look MUCH better covered up. Me among them.

February 27, 2012 at 09:44 PM · I'm just being provocative - I should be ignored!! (But I can't understand why people want to talk about such a boring subject as concert dress, surely there are more interesting topics?)

February 27, 2012 at 09:55 PM · ...topics more interesting than clothing? Well, perhaps, but I'm hard pressed to think of any...outside of those violin-related ones of course...;)

February 27, 2012 at 10:05 PM · "The most important thin' is to llloook good" - Fernando Lamas, better known today in Billy Crystal's impersonation.

February 27, 2012 at 10:41 PM · Concert dress can have its advantages - as an aside, musicians can look pretty scruffy the rest of the time - I think it's a reaction to the concert dress. Anyway, one time I was on tour and the concert dress was tails - white tie. They tend to be MUCH thicker (and hotter) than a tux, so change out of immediately after the concert. We got back to the hotel and heded for the bar - I got stopped by one of the staff with "Sorry, Sir! It's formal dress only in this bar" I think he meant shirt and tie. Anyway, it got me annoyed, so I went up to my room and shoved the tails back on, then went back down. "Hope this is formal enough for you". It was worth it just to see the expression on his face.

February 27, 2012 at 11:04 PM · I don't think fat guys should perform in Speedos, bikinis, or G-strings. Nothing against fat guys or Speedos, it's just that certain combinations can distract from an otherwise great performance.

February 27, 2012 at 11:11 PM · I echo Peter's sentiment. Dress code sucks. But if you have to, think about dressing up as wearing uniform -- decent quality but nothing fancy to allow you focus on your job without worrying about if you look out of place.

February 27, 2012 at 11:25 PM · I personally find that suits discourage freedom of movement when playing, and I much prefer a white or black button-up shirt. That's why I'm opposed.

February 28, 2012 at 02:42 AM · Depending on the internal structure of the orchestra, check with the conductor, personnel manager, contractor, or even your section principal. Inexpensive tuxes can be found on-line, and check your local formal wear stores for used tuxes. And if you don't like being confined by a coat and play all the time, get one tailored with pleats in the back of the coat at the shoulders. I know a couple of cellists in Chicago that have done that.

February 29, 2012 at 11:03 AM · Check with your leader/instructor, but as a performer it's always a smart move to invest in one set of formalwear anyway. Most orchestras, ranging from amateur to semi-pro, generally require the usual bow tie/black jacket gig for the men. Not necessarily a tail, but certainly a dinner jacket. Ebay is a good source if you can find sizes, or promwear shops.

I personally think that formal dress code is a way of appreciating the audience for coming all the way to listen. It's the least we can do. It also gives a professional air, whether we are or not.

Also: always wear polished shoes! Audience look at that kind of teeny things. Last night I noticed one of the audiences saying "the 2nd violin principal's shoes are scruffy". They were.

Audiences get very easily impressed with those kind of things, especially if they come to amateur level orchestras. A professional looking group will sound better than a group dressed like they're at a Linkin Park concert.

February 29, 2012 at 09:22 PM · I particularly like the bow ties that when you have a rest and put the instrument down suddenly spin with flashing lights. These really annoy conductors, which is a simple enough reason to use them whenever possible.

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