My parents had season symphony tickets while I was a teenager and I was lucky enough to go to a few performances every year. The casual dressers bothered me back then too. This is the first performance I've been to in several years and the blow it struck me was appallingly fresh. We walked out the door behind a man in khakis and a ratty polo shirt and a woman in a very worn Docker-style skirt and Teva's. I kid you not. And among the appropriately dressed patrons were plenty of jeans and t-shirts. The Ringling Brothers circus was at the venue 2 blocks down so I think they got lost.
I wanted so badly to tap the couple on the shoulder and say, "Hello. I'm writing an article about how people make their fashion decisions. Could you please tell me what possessed you to put this on before you came here tonight? Did you not know where you were going?"
People, there IS such a thing as a Dress Code and how to dress appropriately. I was pondering the confusion about how to honor a Dress Code and came up with too many possibilities for this post; the casualization of society has killed the standards, people would like to dress appropriately but don't know how or how to shop, too many titles for the same code, etc. We'll explore them more in future posts. Today we're talking about the symphony or opera. So let's discuss WHY it's a good idea to dress up.
- It's not about "fitting in" it's about respecting the situation, the performers, the people around you and yourself. It's about showing you have class and that you understand where you are.
- As I often do I searched for other answers already given to this type of question and in about half a nanosecond I found some very wrong ones. Such as, "Dress as nicely as you can. No one will notice anyway." Wrong! Everyone notices. Someone else said, "Dress any way you want. They're not going to throw you out." Oh.. if only they would!! I had a nice time daydreaming of the petite little usher at our entry manhandling the offenders right out onto the street. Then there was this one, "The symphony doesn't care, they just want butts in the seats." Sadly, that last part is true. They DO care but they also need to fill the seats, especially in an economic cycle where people are cutting back on entertainment spending. Trust me, they care. One answer was particularly good and made the same point I'm trying to make about respecting the performers, the occasion and the venue and she added, "the others who have been going to symphonies in suits and evening gowns for decades, the ones whose season tickets and donations make the symphony possible at all." Very insightful!!
- Lastly, why WOULDN'T you want to dress up? I honestly can't think of any reason I wouldn't want to pamper myself and treat myself to an evening of looking and feeling fabulous. Mom's especially sometimes need to look for excuses like this, so take the opportunity when it knocks!
No denim. Don't even think about it. You can never go wrong with a black dress, which every woman should have in her wardrobe if she also has a pair of jeans.
In general, fancy dress tends to manifest itself either in color or fabric. For example, a pair of nice pants and a top in all black can be just as fancy as a satin sheath dress or sequined skirt in a lighter color. It's another version of the teeter-totter principle. If I totter down, as in down to more casual pieces (which pants are for women) then I should also take the color down. If I teeter up to a fancier cut garment, such as a fitted dress or skirt, I can up the color.
I'm painting with very broad brush strokes here to help clarify the big picture. I saw a gorgeous sequined black dress on Saturday night, as well as a lovely pair of pale pink satin pants and a matching embroidered strapless top over which the woman had draped a black pashmina to cover her shoulders. Both women were wearing nice accessories, fabulous shoes and looked wonderful.
So how 'bout it? Can't we all just dress up when the occasion calls for it? Can we commit to elevating our style and enjoying those times we get to look amazing? It'll be a refreshing change for the better that our society could really benefit from.
Please feel free to comment with your thoughts on why you think Evening Wear (or appropriate dressing in general) has taken such a hit. Simply click the word "Comments" at the top of this post.