Boys/mens performance clothes for picky people
My son has a solo gig coming up with a professional orchestra and needs to wear something nice. He is extremely picky about what he plays in and usually just wears an unadorned dress shirt. For this event, he needs something more formal. He does not like to play in suit coats, ties, or bowties because they mess up his position. He used to play in vests, which look great on him (13yo long-legged, short torso stage!), but the last few times he has complained about the vest sliding while he is playing, making his violin slide.
Does anyone have suggestions for something very formal that won't screw up his playing? This is only his second time soloing with orchestra so I would rather he be comfortable than worried about his attire. I've seen Joshua Bell and others wear some pretty snazzy shirts, but I can't seem to find anything like that.
I usually wear something like black dress pants and a 3/4 sleeve length black shirt for solos. I'm a girl, btw...
Or he could use a chamois cloth and put that on top of the blazer, then the violin/shoulder rest.
I've seen Joshua Bell perform in a long-sleeve "hang-out" shirt (perhaps a guayabera shirt - some call that sort of thing a "Mexican Wedding Shirt"). It's not formal, but some situations it is formal enough. My tux has hung in my closet for 20 years and I've worn a black guayabera shirt for every performance since - black trousers too.
I play in a regular oversize suit usually (sadly, I'm not allowed to wear coattails in my orchestra). It's a slim cut and only looks really baggy if you slouch—back straight!
I've seen more than a few male violinists showing up in black slacks, a black turtleneck (difficult but not impossible to match) and nobody seems to complain. Since a lot of conductors now opt for something like a black caftan, anything goes...
My personal preference is Chinese style tux ( or the so called Mandrian collar) which is comfortable to perform in and is gaining popularity among Asian and nonAsian violinists, though I would stay with black (unlike Pearlman who apparently likes much brighter colors).
We're talking about a child here. I agree with George Wells. I would suggest black slacks, black shoes, and the plainest possible black shirt with as little collar as you can get away with, such as a mock-turtleneck or Mandarin collar. The Josh Bell look is perfectly fine too. No bright colors. Even white is hard to look at from the audience under bright stage lights.
I agree with Paul, especially the suggestion for a Mandarin collar.
If you've got to skip the suit (daytime) or formal wear (evening), then all-black is the thing. I am at a British university now, and black is pretty well standard for all the orchestras and chamber groups, no jacket required even though-- ironically-- everyone already has black suits for exams, and most men have black tie rigs for various dinners throughout the year.
Paul's suggestion should be more than good enough for a teenager. The main thing is that it's neat & doesn't distract from the music.
Thank you all -- the mandarin collar is exactly what I was thinking of but I didn't know the name of it. That should suit him fine. I found some online with some slight decorations that look pretty snazzy.
For the vest-- what about attaching some non-slide stuff under the shoulder so it doesn't slide? You know, the type of stuff you might use under a rug on a wood floor. Or, double-sided clothing tape-- the kind women use to keep bra straps and body parts under control in thin-strapped or strapless dresses.
I use vests everyday. It is rare that they slide like you describe, so I would give a chance to another one that fits better. A vest And a +1 to the Mandarin (Mao) collar.
Vests can look great, and allows the arms to be free. If it slides around, then either it doesn't fit right, or is synthetic fabric. An older style lapel-vest of wool should not do that.
The vest should be an add-on. Something you can wear if it's chilly or not if it's warmer in the room. You want clothes therefore that will look good with or without it. I know a fine pro violinist who wears vests and a mandarin-collar shirt with ordinary worsted-wool trousers.
I actually have an all-black performance outfit now that looks like formal gear, but is all made of performance fabric. Got it at Uniqlo!
I do the mandarin collar too, and I even unbutton the first few top buttons so that I can get a little contact with my collar bone. Tedi Papavrami wears mock-turtlenecks.
"Teenage boys usually look pretty dorky no matter what they are wearing, so I would lean towards comfort."
Also, what's your son playing? I'd just be curious to know. Also, good luck to him!
@Nina Roco -- Wieniawski Concerto.
Scott, is it really orchestral practice for their handbook to cover what the soloist wears?
Scott, I think this is for a solo situation, so not bound by the orchestra's dress code.
Sorry, Susan, but there's two. I'm assuming #2 in D minor because that's more common for a student, and it's pretty advanced and makes sense to be played by an advanced teenage violin student.
No fast rules and all depends on context...but:
Sorry Nina Roco, yes the d minor one -- I should have specified. Not the f#! He hasn't played that yet--rather hard. This one is easy for him.
Here is one more perspective and story. My son was getting ready for his first solo performance with orchestra. He always thought Augustin Hadelich looked great in his suits. So, he wrote to Augustin through his website and he wrote back right away. It turns out that his suits are all custom made to give extra room while playing. He made some great suggestions. We searched the internet and found Hockerty (www.hockerty.com). We took some measurements, added extra space as needed and then ordered a mandarin suit. The cost was around $170 dollars and arrived in about 2 weeks. It fit perfectly! Since that time we have ordered a black suit and tuxedo to fulfill all the performing needs. We have also been ordering mandarin shirts from Fortino Landi on Amazon for about $20. Hope this helps.
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