Feeling like you're wearing the appropriate thing is a huge part of feeling confident in your clothing. As a former classical musician and orchestra staff member, and current "Symphony wife", and personal stylist, one of the questions I get asked most often is, "What do I wear to the Symphony?"

The great thing about the concert hall is that, while people may have felt intimidated in the past, there's no longer a dress code. (There is one for the musicians on stage but that's a whole other blog post.) The general idea is to look "nice", and there are levels from business casual to dressy that are all appropriate. There are also different kinds of concerts. While a cocktail dress would be appropriate for an evening "orchestral" concert, it would probably look out of place in the sea of toddlers and parents that attend a Sunday afternoon Family Concert.

I don’t think it’s ever appropriate to wear sloppy sweats or pajamas in public, so I’m certainly not going to say they’re ok to wear to a concert. However, I'm here to tell you that you can wear jeans to Powell Hall. You'll want to leave your sweatshirt at home, but with a jacket or nice sweater, jeans fit right in.

If I were forced to categorize the dress code, I’d probably say business casual. Since the phrase business casual is something that people struggle with as well, here’s what it means for the Symphony: for men, slacks and a more casual top (knit top or sweater). Or it can mean jeans, but with a dressier top (jacket or dress shirt). For the women, it can mean a dress, pants, or jeans (with the aforementioned dressier top half).

Need a visual? Here are a few examples:


This is how you can do "nice" for the men and still be warm and comfy. Dark wash jeans look more polished than something with fading or distressing. (sweater, shirt, jeans, jacket, boots)

The ladies can also be comfy and still appropriate in a stretchy knit dress and classic boots.
(dress, scarf, boots, bag)

Step it up a notch by adding a jacket and tie to your shirt and jeans.
(jacket, shirt, tie, jeans, shoes)

When in doubt, always keep it simple. A sharp jacket, heels, and (again) a dark wash make these jeans totally event-worthy. (top, similar jacket, jeans, shoes, bag, necklace)

Guys can do sharp jackets too. This outfit is for Eddie.
(jacket, sweater, pants, shoes, socks)

A beaded jacket and statement necklace show off an eclectic style.
(Jacket, jeans, bag, shoes, necklace)


So now that we’ve established that it doesn’t have to be a “fancy” occasion, one of the great things about going to Powell Hall is that it can be a rare chance to dress up, should you choose to do so. If you're a clotheshorse, a concert is a great chance to pull out a suit, or to wear one straight from the office if it's your daily uniform. (Suit, shoes, tie)


Pull out that cocktail dress that hasn’t seen the light of day (or night) in a year.
(Dress, jacket, shoes, earrings, clutch)

Lastly, as I mentioned earlier, there are many different types of concerts at Powell Hall. For the most part, I’ve been speaking of attending what are called “Subscription” concerts. These are the regular, weekly, straight-ahead classical concerts (like this weekend's Vivaldi Four Seasons). The Symphony also plays live music for movies (The Godfather in March), concerts with video game music (Final Fantasy in May), tributes to rock bands like Journey, and concerts for kids and families. For all of these, the attire is a bit more casual. On the other hand, for the yearly Gala and New Year’s Eve concerts, black tie is totally acceptable.

Bottom line is, it’s hard to mess up. You’re welcome at a concert even if you do show up in your pj’s, I just wouldn’t recommend it. For your own confidence, you know.

What do you wear to Powell Hall?

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