What to Wear for a Recital

Recital attire is on of the things that I really get on a soapbox about.  It’s not just the performers, the audience usually needs a few lessons also.  So many things have drifted into the casual realm that we occasionally need a reminder about what to wear.  The performers have invested many hours and should respect themselves and should be respected by the audience.


Let’s start with the ladies attire:

1.  Skirts and Dresses should not be above the knee when standing or seated.  Don’t forget to have someone check the back while you are sitting at the bench.  This one makes me especially crazy.  Many times students forget that the stage or platform is elevated.  What will look good while on a flat floor turns wildly inappropriate when seated 2 feet off the ground.  If you are questioning the length of a skirt or pulling at it then just bypass the issue and pick something else to wear. 

The first skirt pictured is a good length.  Don’t even consider the style just the length.  Any skirt or dress that hits the leg at this point would always be appropriate for a performance.  The second skirt is seriously in danger zone for length.  Now both skirts look very similar in length when standing, but they will appear very different when seated.  The second example will hitch up more in the back and with a side view on an elevated stage things start to get a little risqué.  The third picture pretty much explains it self.  This is way too short.

good skirt            bad skirt      really bad skirt

No where does it say that you need to wear a skirt or a dress.  Dress slacks are a great option.


2.  Dress slacks are a nice choice.  Just make sure they are not too tight or too short in the leg.  My personal favorites are the Kasper brand.  These pants are made of non-wrinkle material and are lined.  They hang beautifully and if you manage to wear a pair out in 5 years or less, I would be very surprised.  There is a Kasper outlet at Concord Mills and they have lots of different colors and patterns for around $35 a pair.  For a slightly more casual and light weight feel, Gap’s perfect trousers are a good example. 

good pants    gap pants


3.  Shirts and Tops offer more flexibility.  To check to see if a shirt is appropriate, sit at the piano and play your piece with someone watching.  If your back or sides are exposed at any point, the attire should head back to the closet.  If you are constantly pulling the neckline because it feels too low, don’t wear it.  If you are uncomfortable or self conscious, the audience will be as well.  Also, try to avoid anything that lets your bra straps peek out.  The public doesn’t need to see underwear. 


4.  Hair, Accessories, Pantyhose and Shoes

Topics every girl hates.  It is hard enough to have a good hair day without your piano teacher’s input.  However, you have worked extremely hard on your music and your parents are sitting through 35 other performances just to hear you.  Make sure that we can see your smiling face.  At the very least pull your hair back on the side that faces the audience. 

Keep the accessories to a minimum.  No bracelets or watches or anything else that might distract you or the audience. 

I know all the kids think the idea of wearing pantyhose is the worst idea every.  However, this is a winter recital.  You might consider wearing a pair of tights with your skirt or dress.  They don’t have to be plain either, a pattern without rips is fine or crazy colors are great.

Shoes.  Make sure you can walk in them.  They should be thin soled.  Practice wearing your shoes around the house and playing your pieces.  Some shoes will gape if they aren’t properly broken in.  Then you feel like your shoe is going to fall off while using the pedal. 


Most of my students and parents do an excellent job with wearing appropriate recital attire.  Something things just slip through and we need a reminder.  Later this week, I will review on article from the NMTA magazine that talks about how your attire affects the audience’s view of your performance.  Tomorrow we will blog about the guys and their fashion options.