Saturday, February 14, 2009

Choir Uniforms: Do's and Dont's

As any chorister can attest to, when joining a choir, acquiring the uniform becomes an integral part of the choral experience. I know this may sound sad...but I don't know if I have ever seen a choir uniform that I've loved. But I suppose that's just it, choir uniforms should not be visually evaluated on an individual basis, but they must be critiqued as a whole since the overall effect of a uniformed choir is what's most important. Of course, that does not stop my Mom from making fun of the choral uniforms I have donned in the past, but it is good to know that at least you are not alone and that your fellow choristers share the same fashion fate as you do. Furthermore, from seeing many uniforms worn by other choirs, I think I have formulated a set of do's and dont's for choral fashion.

  • Find a cut and style flattering to everybody. One of the biggest challenges!
  • Keep colours simple. Even if bright orange may be your color...a whole choir wearing bright orange may just hurt the audiences' eyes. As always, black is the classic musician color choice
  • Uniforms require a decent fit to look polished. I understand (and have worn) church robes are oversized draped at best, but if you want to take your look to an international level, it is all about a trim silhouette
  • Find uniforms that travel well. Wrinkling is one of the main woes of a choir uniform on tour...or learn how to fold your uniform to reduce wrinkles.
  • Pinch your cheeks before going on stage to give yourself a natural blush
  • Match uniform pieces-it's all in the details. This means hosiery (I have seen such a range of black tights in my choral years) and shoes if possible. Having one chorister wear black platforms and another wearing ballet flats is enough of a difference to draw attention.
  • Show too much skin. You're not putting on THAT kind of show
  • Just throw together random accessories and hope they match. Certain rules must be followed. If you tell everybody to just accessorize with are going to get a lots of different red hues
  • Often, less is more. In my more serious choral experiences any excessive makeup, nailpolish, and accessories needed to be removed since the audience is there to listen to choral music and not be distracted by your decadent accessories. So while it may seem like a choir concert is a great arena to showcase your diamond choker under the sparkle of stage lights, it has no place in a choir since it is a group performance not a solo one.
What's most important is that the uniform is the last thing an audience notices. If too much attention is on the uniform...then something is wrong. The uniform is there to set the first impression and tone of the choir even before they sing. Thus, when a choir looks polished and put-together, naturally, this translates into the way a listener or adjudicator perceives and hears a choir. In a future post I will document some of my own choral fashion experiences.

Until then, take care readers!


Anonymous said...

I remember being in a church choir where people would routinely steal bits and pieces of other people's robes, or even the entire ensemble, when they couldn't find their own. I was having to dig robes out of the spare robe closet every time I sang for a year or so. |D Thank goodness the church finally wised up and started using name tags instead of just numbers the last year I was there.

misssable said...

Hi Mari,

Ah, piecing together uniforms...classic! Especially with robes since they're almost one size fits all so people can get away with mixing and matching pieces.

mentalplague said...

It is very rare to find a good choir uniform. I personally have to wear a velvet blue frock. We call them velvet garbage bags

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of your thoughts here but I disagree with your thought of having only black as the colour for choir uniforms. I think black is a safe colour and there are occasions where it is most appropriate but I think the most amazing and interesting choirs often have a visual impact as well as a musical one. Think of the many choirs across the globe that have vibrant colourful outfits. I also find that black and white wash out faces where as a little colour can add a lot of life to the look of a choir.

If you want to go safe and bland go with black but if you want to show your creativity and push the envelope try a little colour.

Thanks for your blog.

ShelbyElizzz said...

Quick Question..I'm in a choir group at school. Our first competition is on Friday (next Friday) and we have all black dresses. I am a big girl and i want to cover up my legs and accessorize a bit. Suggestions?

misssable said...

Firstly, depending on the length of the black dress, if you can choose go for a longer dress instead of a short length to cover your legs. If you cannot choose, wear dark tights (opaque or slightly sheer) to help cover your legs but still show you have them. Accessories are important because you want to draw a person's eye to your best features. If you want the focus on your face, some dangly earrings with shine is nice. If you like your bosom, wear a necklace with shine. I wouldn't go with anything too heavy on your neck like a bib necklace though since you still want to look uniform with the rest of the choir. I trust you will look fabulous regardless of what you choose Shelby! Happy singing!

Chloe said...

My choir uniform is a purple t shirt and we have to tuck it into black pants with black flats and black shoes, my least favorite:(