Saturday, December 6, 2014

Concert Black

For a decade (4th grade to freshman year in college), I've been a violinist in the school orchestra every semester. I mostly played 2nd violin parts and sat in the back though (haha), which was a good thing for me since I struggled finding what to wear to every concert. They really don't sell that many sophisticated and conservative "black" clothes for shrimpy-kid size like myself. I think I ended up wearing mostly black pants and any black top I can borrow for the most part.

Well, December is probably the busiest month for orchestra members from winter concerts at school to holiday performances at churches and local symphonies, etc. Thus, I thought I would share some "concert black" attire tips in case you or your kids recently joined a musical ensemble and figuring what to wear.

My Go-To Concert Black Uniform:
ASOS lace top/Yesstyle slip dress underneath/Old Navy velvet maxi skirt/Ann Taylor pumps

1. Cover the Legs: wearing a midi/maxi dress, long skirt, or long dress pants is a must! The audience usually has the best view of the legs, so I wouldn't want to risk showing some runny stockings, mosquito-bitten skin, or accidentally opening my legs too wide (panty-peeping) by wearing short knee to above-the knee dresses/skirts. I know most girls have a cute little black cocktail dress in their closet, but unfortunately, that is not concert black appropriate. Most long black dresses/skirts on the market tend to have sexy high side slits...avoid those too!

Also, if wearing a maxi length dress or skirt, make sure the hem is right at the ankle (not touching the floor) to avoid tripping when marching out on the stage. 

2. Closed-toe Clean Black Shoes: the audience usually gets bored at some point and will have their eyes wander to the musicians' feet (haha) so make sure the shoes are clean and polished if possible. There is also quite a bit of walking involved (backstage and onstage distances), so easy-walking pumps or flats are a good idea.

3. Blackest Black Polyester Fabric: hands-down the best concert-black fabric is velour/stretchy velvet like my old Old Navy skirt above (notice how it is blacker than my lace top). It's a polyester/spandex material that washes very well in the regular machine-wash/dryer, never fades, never wrinkles, and is super comfortable to wear and move in. The velvet texture also creates a luxe appearance. 
(Currently on the market, this Anne Klein velvet maxi skirt is similar to mine.) 

4. Black Top with Sleeves: if I had more toned arms, I probably would not worry about sleeves, but unfortunately, I have wrinkly armpits and pasty flabby marshmallow muscles that jiggles when I play my violin, so I prefer sleeves, especially elbow to 3/4 length. Actually, longer sleeves with no elbow-showing is a mandatory requirement for some orchestras. 

To offset being too shrouded, I do tend to pick tops with lace or mesh sleeves, which not only look pretty, but also keeps me from sweating too much under the bright stage lights, haha!

5. Invest in Separates or Duplicates: there was a time when I thought all I needed was just one perfect black dress to wear to all my concerts, but turns out it literally "stinks" especially if you have back-to-back concerts (ie. Friday night, Saturday afternoon, evening, and Sunday) and no time to wash clothes in between. Those sleeves will be smelling from all the stage-anxiety or energetic performances, haha! Thus, if you are an avid performer, it's smart to have a couple of black tops to wear with your trousers/skirts. If the only long dresses you can find are sleeveless or too revealing, have a couple of black jackets, bolero, or cardigans (again, I'm a fan of those pretty lace/mesh styles) to pair with.

Trust me, separates are easier and more affordable to find than a full dress that is concert-appropriate and fits well. It's like you almost need a custom-made dress if you are a perfectionist in this business, haha!

***If I see any orchestra-appropriate attire (that is petite and wallet friendly) on the market I will share below:

September 27, 2016
      ASOS Midi Skater Dress with Scuba Skirt and Lace Top ($65) - pretty lace top, but probably needs a cami underneath for the unlined back
September 20, 2016
     Zara High Neck Dress ($39.90) - sleek, very Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face
     Zara Crossover Velvet Dress ($49.90) - easy velour!
September 26, 2016
     TFNC Petite WEDDING Pleated High Neck Lace Sleeve Maxi Dress ($119) - this really looks more like a mourning dress than wedding attire, unless one has a Gothic Halloween theme going on. But perfectly conservative for concert black!
     Liquorish Animal Jacquard Frill Sleeve Maxi Dress ($56 sale) - the flowy sleeves are great for those who sweat a lot
     ASOS Stradivarius Mesh Maxi Dress ($46) - I think they are marketing this dress purposely for violinists...."Stradivarius" dress!
     Banana Republic x Olivia Palermo Velvet Tie-Neck Midi Dress ($148) - super conservative, good for cold winters, or someone with matronly tastes

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