Dressing for a large size venue can be tricky. Often, what looks fabulous up close doesn’t read well from the back of the house.
Not to toot my own horn (toot toot), but I am an expert on gowns having worn many of them in concert format and helping countless singers select what to wear for their most important concert engagements and photo shoots. I’ve also committed many crimes to fashion over the years as well. It happens!
Using The Metropolitan Opera as an example, at 146 feet away in Family Circle, most singers look like tiny ants. Although the sound projects unlike anywhere else in the universe, a singer might want to wear something (if they have a choice) that balances their body frame.
The easiest way to do this is by picking a silhouette that is simple on top (strapless, 3/4 sleeve, one shoulder, full sleeve, delicate straps, off the shoulder, etc). I typically avoid cap sleeves like the plague or things with a lot of volume after seeing myself in photos. Of course, there are always exceptions to my arbitrary opinions on the subject. Many of my colleagues and, even I have, looked like linebackers and squares on stage, because all you really see is the shape of a garment from that distance.
I had a drop dead gorgeous white ABS by Allen Schwartz gown that I wore for a concert several years ago with a bow detail on the waist. Renata Scotto came up to me and in her ‘Renata Way’ said something to the effect, “That dress looks horrible and makes you look …bigger! Cut that… thing off!” From up close, it was magic and was the perfect gown when I wore it in the ballroom of a luxury hotel for an opera gala. This conversation starter where the proximity of me to other human beings was different than when I was singing on a large stage where the perspective shown the silhouette of the dress and not the actual details. Sometimes the perfect dress is not the perfect fit for the occasion and that’s OK!
I usually favor gowns that have beading on the top, bottom, or all over for large stages….. avoiding anything with 3/4 distribution of sparkles. For those items, I generally wear them for intimate settings, like I previously stated or pull them for photoshoots with my clientele. Many Adrianna Papell, Tadashi and Sue Wong gowns are known for their 3/4 beading that oftentimes extends into tulle on the bottom third of the dress. If you love it and you feel great in it by no means am I saying throw it in the trash after reading this article. You might think I’m completely full of you know what and that’s totally fine! I know from personal experience as an audience member and looking back at photos how I looked personally.
Fashion is a lot like singing in that not every piece of music you sing is perfect for every occasion. As artists, we have to know ourselves, know our instruments and speculate what experience our audience wants to be part of for the duration (if it’s is at all possible)! Go forth into the universe and make incredible music because ultimately, it’s your singing that is the reason why you have to dress up in the first place. It’s sort of stupid to put so much emphasis into what we wear but this mantra has never failed me or any of my clients…
“KEEP THE DRAMA AT THE BOTTOM!”