Rocking the Audition Look

What not to wear to your audition

Having just packed a carry-on suitcase for the first 2.5 weeks of travel in 4 cities with 3 different climates, I am in a particularly empathetic place with you singers who are trying to decide what to wear for auditions. If you’re staring at your closet trying to figure out what to strut during your audition, I share your pain.

General Guidelines

  • Confidence. Feel like a million bucks in your audition clothes. Don’t wear something that someone else prescribes if you feel you’re apologizing for your appearance in any way.
  • Comfort. Nothing should constrict your freedom of movement, for both vocal/technical reasons.
  • Familiarity. Don’t wear your new stuff for the first time in front of an important panel.
  • Be professional. Wear something that is the singer equivalent of what a 9-5 person would wear to a job interview. (Or think about it as Sitzprobe clothes.) And be sure it looks reasonable polished coming out of a suitcase or surviving a long train ride.
  • No formal wear. Leave the tuxes and the glitzy full-length evening gowns in their dry-cleaning bags.
  • Color. Solid, saturated colors preferred. Busy prints add distracting  visual white noise. Few people do well in washed-out pastels or neutrals. And black is rarely memorable.

Guys Only (You get to go first because you’re easier.)

  • Tie. Probably, but if you can look fabulously turned out with an open collar and jacket, we can be convinced. (Some other panels aren’t, so tread with care…)
  • Jacket. Probably, but if you can look irresistible in a crisp shirt and tie, we won’t complain. (Again, see above.)
  • Neither? You really shouldn’t abandon both jacket and tie. Let’s just say it’s risky.
  • Hair. Out of your eyes.
  • Accent. Bold tie. Fun socks. An amazing suit. Colorful pocket square if you can bring it off. Helps us remember you.

OK, Ladies…

  • Foundation. It all starts here. Undergarments and reasonably modest coverage. I don’t really want to know that much about what’s under your stretchy wrap dress, and I don’t want to spend the aria wondering if your girls are going to fall out. There are athletic aspects to your chosen craft, and you should dress for them.
  • Shoes. Be sure you can walk easily in them and support your singing. (We don’t really care about open vs. closed toes, but I guess some people do.) And character shoes almost never come off well.
  • Pants are fine. Mezzos or sopranos. They should look classy, and they should fit you well.
  • Length. Consider the fact that you might be singing on a stage higher than the panel. And don’t delude yourself about whether or not you look good in a short(er) skirt.
  • Hair. Not in your face.
  • Accessories. Be careful about shawls and scarves and other things that are not stabilized or otherwise affixed to your person. I don’t want to be distracted by wondering how you’re going to catch it next. But an accessory that sets you apart is a marvelous thing… an unusual cut to a dress, a vibrant touch of color, an interesting piece (pin, necklace) that doesn’t overwhelm. It helps us remember you visually, and it adds energy and detail to your presence.

And just remember that almost no matter what you wear (or sing, for that matter…) you can’t please everyone. (And that on the other extreme end of the spectrum, there are people like a famous colleague of mine who “couldn’t care less about what you wear, because if I hire you, I’m going to put you in a costume.”)

Looking for some packing mojo? Check out this playlist on Tammy Wilson’s fabulous Exit Stage Left Youtube channel!

(The photo? Miss Ireland 2015, ready for her audition.:))

One Comment

Sue Kelly

This is terrific stuff, Kim — probably for instrumental auditions too, unless they are behind a screen. But even then, although the committee can’t see you, the PM can!

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