Last Friday I attended the Philly Pops Bond And Beyond performance. The musicianship was excellent and I highly recommend going to a Philly Pops show if you have the opportunity. It should come as no surprise, but I am a big fan of dressing up for the arts (orchestra, ballet, musicals etc). Yes, that means at least a jacket, but more likely a suit and tie. I was even tempted to go the whole way and don a dinner jacket to match the level of dress of the performers. It should also not come as a surprise that the average level of dress of the attendees was below a suit and tie. Most gentlemen were in a simple button up shirt. Some donned suits or jackets. And unfortunately, some simply wore a t-shirt and jeans. Horrifying. We can do better Philadelphia.
Although a man should not need an excuse to dress up I think it is prudent to briefly justify my cause here. Now, before I delve more into the subject of what to wear to the orchestra I should note that most orchestras seem to have dropped their dress codes (including the Philadelphia Orchestra, however, the New York Philharmonic takes a more formal stance), no doubt in an effort to attract more attendees. So you may wonder, why do I rally against the wearing of jeans and t-shirts and favor dressing up? In short, the issue boils down to matters of respect and formality (with a dash of tradition). First off, the performers at such concerts are always in black tie and sometimes white tie. They take the time and care to dress themselves up, why can’t you? These people have dedicated their lives to the mastery of a given instrument and I think it shows a little appreciation and respect to dress up for these individuals. Lastly, we have my beloved idea of tradition. From what I know of history, it was required and thus customary for the attendees of theater and music to dress up for the occasion. But in our current de-formalized state of affairs the custom seems to be slipping into extinction. Let’s just hope the music doesn’t follow suit.
Keep up the good fight,
Suit: Indochino, shirt: MyTailor, shoes: Meermin, suspenders: Albert Thurston, cufflinks: Rotenier, socks: Gammarelli, tie: Paul Stuart.
As a professional musician and a vintage lover– I must tell you that I greatly appreciate your stance on concert dress. It is amazing how simply taking more time and effort in your appearance can communicate a level of respect in a way that words cannot.
Being a subscriber to my Symphony’s series, I’m in a tuxedo at least three times a month, but I actually prefer wearing a tuxedo (I have five custom tuxedos from Jos. Bank) anytime I have to do errands etc. More to this point: I had a professor in college who said that if I had a tuxedo, I should wear it to the Symphony. I was very surprised by that statement but he said it because as a music student, he knew that we all had them and other than concerts we had to be in, the suit hung in the closet. This way, we could wear our tuxedos, look like we were at a concert and not at a bar. It’s a habit I haven’t dropped in over 35 years and I feel much more attentive in a tuxedo. More importantly I don’t feel like a slob with a t-shirt and backwards ball cap and ripped jeans trying to appreciate something cultural. I can get tuxxed up in under 30 minutes (including tying up my bow tie) and I’m usually early to the concerts. If it was up to me, I’d be happy to support a formal wear requirement for evening concerts for adults who attend with no exception granted. It’s time we brought a bit of civility back to classical music concerts and other arts events and we men can start by dressing the right way, leaving the casual stuff for other events that happen around home.