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ChoralNet: Colorful concert attire

Two weeks ago I posted a request for suggestions on concert attire:

Cantemus is a semi-professional chamber chorus that begins its 20th season
next Fall. We're thinking about changing our concert attire from black
blouse & skirt (women) and tuxedos (men) to something perhaps a little more
Have you seen any choirs that look really great?
Thanks very much for your ideas.

Here are the responses I received:

One of my Community Choruses performs in three different outfits:
Standard Tuxedo/Black Dress
Black slacks/skirts with white shirts and colorful vest-- singer's choice.
This makes a great 'picture' for a Holiday or Spring concert that is not
quite as formal (pops concert)
If you live in a cold region (I am in Texas ) then maybe colorful sweaters
would work.
"Mafia Black"-- this is a solid black outfit: Black shirt, black slacks.
This looks better with a smaller ensemble; a huge choir would look rather
Jeffrey Jones-Ragona
Austin TX

* * * * *

Yes - I saw the Roger Wagner Chorale perform Handel at D.C.'s Constitution
Hall back in the '60's. The women wore heavily sequined, tight fitting gowns
which caught the stage lights and reflected them in colorful sparkles
throughout the hall during the entire concert.

I don't remember what the men wore - -

Fred Wygal

* * * * *

The L.A. Jazz Choir wears black with red accents. Each person has a
different red accent: one has a scarf, another a tie, another a
shirt, another a hat, and so on. The reds all matched so they must
have had them custom made, but it was definitely a striking effect.
They have about 20 singers. If you have a smaller group you could
probably get away with mixing colors; for example, have all the women
wear a different color scarf, all matching. The men could have
colored handkerchiefs in their tuxedos. This allows you to keep the
formality without the dullness of all black.

Allen H Simon
Soli Deo Gloria

* * * * *

Needs not so big a change. We in Hljómeyki (funnily a semipro chamber
chorus just over 20 yrs old :-) were getting tired of the black/tux attire,
but ended on buying 2 different sets of silken scarves (Accessorize or the
same sort of shop) so we could vary our concert attire. Looks really good,
you can also get matching bow ties and cummerbunds for the men, we didn't
but it'd probably look even better

cheers from Iceland

(president of Hljómeyki)

hildigunnur runarsdottir
composer, singer, music teacher email jls(a)
njalsgotu 6
reykjavik, iceland

* * * * *

After months of discussions bordering on arguments, we went with a
burgundy/merlot kind of blouse for the women and everyone loves it.
If you go to our website,, and then click on
recordings, you can see the color on the cover of Amo Amas cd. The
women wear the same long black skirts they use with black blouses when
we sing behind an orch. The men wears tuxes, but you could always
have cummerbunds and ties made to match, as I did (I match, as
conductor, but the singer men are in black).

And we used a pattern for the blouses that everyone is more or less
content with. We have a large variety of sizes and shapes!

David Griggs-Janower
228 Placid Drive
Schenectady, NY 12303-5118
518/356-9155; 518/442-4167 (w)

Albany Pro Musica
PO Box 3850
Albany, NY 12203-0850
Ph: (518) 438-6548
Fax: (518) 273-6510

SUNYA Music department fax: 518/442-4182
UAlbany Chamber Singers:
UAlbany Chorale:

* * * * *

My suggestion isn't really about which color looks best on a choir.

My college choir conductor often judges at festivals, and he recommends white
tops for the ladies, because a white top will reflect light back up onto the
faces of the singers. Often we forget the importance of our visual
presentation; the most important element of that presentation is the face,
which is where the audience connects the beautiful sounds they hear with the
actual performers in its presence. Too often, I see ladies on stage in dark
choir costumes, some with hair covering most of their face, and most of the
faces looking down at their music. No matter how bright the stage lighting
is, these ladies will always look as though they are standing in the dark.
As a result, I can't look into their eyes and feel a deep spiritual
connection with their artistry, a connection that is an important element of
a satisfying choral performance.

I hope this suggestion helps!

* * * * *

Your email reminded me of a group I saw in Chicago at the National
Convention three years ago. I forgot their name, but they were a
professional choir. The women wore very simple black dresses, straight and
long to the floor. Then they wore these beautiful scarves with lots of
gorgeous bright colors. The scarves were draped from the back, over the
shoulders, draped across the front, and draped over the other shoulder and
over the back. Can you see the picture? I tell you, it was gorgeous!
Black is formal and simple, and the scarf brings out the vibrant colors.
Maybe they had a scarf pin to keep the scarves manageable. So there you
go. Keep the men in tuxedos, but maybe change the tie to a nice color (or
a splashy vest?). Good luck! There are tons of catalogs out there, they
will give you a ton of options.

Denise Richardson
Assistant Choral Director
Gilbert High School
(480) 497-0177 ext. 166

* * * * *

I am the wardrobe manager for our chorale. We also use all black outfits
and, frankly, I think they are hard to beat ,especially if your singers run
the gamut of body types as ours do. However, what we do is add absolutely
smashing accessories for the various concerts. For example, we have beaded
collars and matching earrings for serious concerts, lame' and rhinestone
scarves with matching rhinestone earrings in a rainbow of colors for the
ladies, brocade vests for the men, red tux accessories for the men, a
variety of seasonal corsages and boutonnieres, etc. These are much more
flexible in application, very flattering and very economical if you have
someone who knows how to make them and buy materials in quantity. So...if
you cannot reach a consensus about a whole new wardrobe, this might be
something you can try.

on May 20, 2002 10:00pm
I don't recall where I saw this but I loved it and have always wanted to try it. I saw a group where each member, both male and female, wore black dress pants and a bright colored satin, button-down shirt. The colors were bright and beautiful pink, orange, yellow, turquoise, purple, emerald, you name it. For a group not looking for as much color, perhaps only 2 colors need be used. The color combination was striking and the simple shirt and pants combination had to be comfortable.
on June 17, 2002 10:00pm
You might get better results posting your question to Choralist, where more people will see it. Send to

Allen H Simon
VP for Website Development
on June 17, 2002 10:00pm
I'm looking for ideas for children's chorus holiday concert attire. Venue is a huge hockey arena---stage colors silver trees against blue background with white snowflakes. Orchestra is on stage in typical concert garb. I'd love to introduce red, but fear it's going to look too red, white and blue for a seasonal event!
on October 14, 2002 10:00pm
You might like to take a look at our website to see some of the ideas we use. Our wardrobe mistresses do two costume changes per concert. It may give you some ideas. The website is

Pat Bean
RBChorale Inc.
Rancho Bernardo, CA
on May 19, 2003 10:00pm
An adult semi-prof Chamber Chorus I often sing with has the women in "jewel-toned" gowns - GORGEOUS - any subdued emerald, ruby or sapphire colors, some sparkles or velvets, or black gowns with jewel-toned accents. The men often use vests or c-bunds to add a little color also. At first, I thought the affect would be too distracting - but when I saw them in concert (rather than sang with them) I was knocked out.
on December 9, 2004 10:00pm
The choirs I sing in have come up with some creative options. Smaller groups - 20 or so members - the women have worn a floor length dress of a single colour. Lots of room for variation and yet, keeps it to some kind of uniformity.
The most frequent option for an expatriate choir with a high turn over of members is long black with a coloured scarf to match the season, repetoire, or whim of the people at the fabric market that day! Men wear matching ties of a 're-useable' colour or style.

Jacqueline Swain
International Festival Chorus - Beijing, Shanghai
on April 30, 2007 10:00pm
I am a member of a community choral group that is looking to change the women's outfits. We started out wearing black slacks/skirts and white shirts - Now we have been wearing black slacks with a black and white pin stripped shirt with a rhinestoned floral design on the upper right of the shirt. Consensus is that most of us don't like them - We are a mixed group of different ages - men and women - Most of our women are in their 50's - some are large women, some are very thin and petite.
We would like to find some really sharp shirt that would look good on everyone. We sing a mixture of different music - some classical, folk, spiritual, and show music - So we don't want to look extremely conservative - We want a contemporary look. Any suggestions?
on September 9, 2007 10:00pm
I belong to 3 New Jersey choral groups---SHIRAH, the Community Chorus on the Palisades, the Teaneck Community Chorus and Kol Emeth. SHIRAH wears formal concert dress---long, black skirts & tops or dresses for the altos & sopranos & tuxedos,cummerbunds,suspenders & bow ties with white formalwear shirts for the basses & tenors. Black shoes & hose are regulation for both. The other two groups are less formal, where the members wear any combination of long-sleeved all-black attire, coordinated with matching scarves, ties or pocket squares. This gives the members some choice of what's comfortable & flattering, while maintaining a unified, professional look.
To view photos, here are the website urls: