While I spend more of my money than I like to admit on clothing, I would never go so far as to say that I have any fashion sense. I don’t watch “Project Runway,” and I can’t watch “What Not To Wear” anymore because I’m tired of them dressing people (usually women) in the same outfit over and over and over.

I would say that, despite a lack of fashion sense, I am a little bit obsessed with clothing and how it looks, especially in regards to how people see me professionally. I think starting a job where I work from home has made me more obsessed with getting dressed now, especially getting dressed for a fancy occasion, because I have so very few reasons to leave the house.

For the past few hours, I got sucked down the rabbit hole of online fashion commentary, especially as it relates to theatre and being perceived as an artist. It started on an unrelated note, because I just got a trial pro membership to HootSuite, as part of a self-promotion bender. I was adding social media accounts so I could start managing stuff, and I saw that Tumblr was, of course, on the list. Which briefly rekindled my interest in Tumblr. Not that I need or want another thing to manage, but I thought, “Having a Tumblr account would add to my social media presence on the internet!”

This is not actually something I want to do, I’ve decided. However, interestingly, when I was brainstorming ideas for a potential Tumblr account, I thought about creating a daily (or weekly, or until I get sick of using the thing two weeks from now) picture of myself and what I’m wearing. Because I’m a normal person with a normal body type who wears clothing on occasion, and frankly, I need more excuses to get dressed.

Then I tried to relate this to my artistic career, which wasn’t working too well. So I started looking up “theatre outfits” and “theatre clothing” and “things artists wear” and “how to dress like an artist” and ended up getting more hilarious discussion fodder than I intended.

For the record, this is me, generally, when I dress to leave the house:

Long hair pulled back somehow, no makeup, couldn't be arsed with contact lens, a singular piece of jewelry, a black sweater, skinny jeans, and shoes. This was just a pair I grabbed at random.
Long hair pulled back somehow, no makeup, couldn’t be arsed with contact lens, a singular piece of jewelry, a black sweater, skinny jeans, and shoes. This was just a pair I grabbed at random.

Basically, I dress like a theatre geek. Most of my wardrobe is black sweaters and jeans. It takes a lot to convince me to wear jewelry, as well as socks, but that’s my way of “dressing up” an outfit. I also have a few sets of black skirts and black leggings. Lots of black, with splashes of color on occasion. Also, tshirts. Lots and lots of tshirts.

Someday, I would like to own these tshirts:

Shakespeare Gotta Get Paid, son Serotonin and Dopamine: technically the only two things you enjoy

Now, here’s some interesting and mostly-stupid tidbits I’ve dug up on the magical interwebs.


Wearing the colors blue and yellow will cause actors to forget lines. Wearing green is unlucky. There should be no peacock feathers inside a theater. No real flowers, mirrors or jewelry should ever be used on stage. You should use a rabbit’s foot to apply makeup. You should never clean your makeup box. You should NEVER wear brand–new makeup on opening night. Never place shoes or hats on chairs or tables inside the dressing rooms. Always exit the dressing room left foot first. Absolutely no knitting in the wings. Never open a show on a Friday night. And never speak the last line of a play before opening night.” – Steppenwolf Theatre

“It’s bad luck to wear purple to an Italian opera. The origin of this superstition is unclear. In Italy, the color purple is associated with funerals; it is considered poor taste to wrap gifts in purple paper; and no Italian bride would allow her wedding plan to incorporate purple into her color-scheme.

A possible origin for the theater banning purple goes back to when the Catholic Church banned theater for the duration of Lent, the 40 days prior to Easter. The Clergy wear purple during Lent. Out of respect for the then starving actors and singers, purple wasn’t worn to the theater in Italy.” – Seattle Opera Blog

I don’t know what it is about the world of performance arts, but we have some weird superstitions. And if blue, purple, green, and yellow are all out, no wonder we wear so much black.

And THEN, there’s Audition Etiquette.

Oh what a terrible world is Audition Etiquette. Having been on the auditors’ side of the table on numerous occasions, I can tell you that 1) what is often recommended gets boring quick, as everyone starts to look the same, and 2) there are too many actresses out there who show off too much of their body when they audition. I’m not slut-shaming and I’m not calling anyone fat, because I don’t think these women look BAD in what they wear – however, anything that draws my eye away from your face, and distracts me from your performance, is not in your favor as an actor.

There’s also a lot of conflicting “what to wear” audition information Out There In The World. About.com seems to think that casual is better, but I have not found that to be true. In fact, it is often considered to be bad manners to wear sneakers to an audition, unless your sneakers are FABULOUS. However, wearing uncomfortable shoes like stilettos or squeaky leather two-tone shoes is also bad manners.

The best advice I can offer is to wear something that is flattering without being revealing, comfortable without being sloppy (business casual is a good place to start, but trust me, EVERYONE wears business casual to auditions when they don’t know what else to wear), and wear things that make a statement about who you are, or who you want to be. If you have a favorite pair of earrings that gives you crazy confidence, you should totally wear those (even if you’re a guy). Also, avoid dressing up like the character or time period, but do consider the theatre company/companies you’re auditioning for, as well as the show.

There’s also this nasty rumor that outfits with patterns are bad for auditions. Loud designer labels or clothing that has writing on it is really bad, it’s true, but that’s because it is very distracting. So try to think about things that are not really distracting, which does not mean that patterns are right out. Tiny, dizzying patterns like houndstooth are a terrible idea, but something with a large, thick stripe or a couple of polka dots isn’t going to make anyone go blind.

Yes but, I want to know how to dress like an artiste all the time

Ok, but if you try too hard, you will look like a ponce.

I’m slapping this advice together because I think it’s funny, by the way. Don’t actually do it. The best way to look like an artist in public is to wear only black tshirts and sweatpants that are inexplicably covered in paint, and carry a beat-up notebook.

From Wikihow.com:

Add piercings. You can pierce your eyebrow, your lip or your nose for dramatic effect. If you want something more subtle, pierce your ear cartilage.

Consider tattoos. If you consider your body a canvas, you might want to get tattooed in a way you find meaningful. Don’t be thoughtless about it, though – you don’t want to get a tattoo you’ll regret.

Stop shaving. No artsy guy is hotter than when he has a little facial hair, and artsy girls shouldn’t feel the social pressure to shave.

From eHow.com:

1. Wear a tweed jacket to dress like an artist. It can be worn by both men and women, and the suede elbow patches are not necessary.

2. Put on a pair of skinny jeans. These are essential in black and dark denim for anyone who wants to dress like an artist.
3. Add long black skirts to your wardrobe. A female artist has at least 2 in her closet, and she wears them often.

4. Carry a tote bag that is big enough to store all of your artistic necessities. A Neitzsche book and a magazine about paintings or writing are a good bet for anyone who wants to dress like an artist and carry the right accessories.

5. Walk in pointy-toed shoes. This goes for any man or woman who wants to dress like an artist. The rounded toe is just not going to cut it in the artsy realm.

6. Look at the world through chunky glasses. The artistic flare should be prevalent, so go with frames that are squarish and brightly colored.

7. Go to the nearest artists’ markets for jewelry. Buy lots of beaded necklaces, but make sure they don’t have too much of an ethnic flare. Plain, solid colored beads are best.

From Dubigo.com:

Quite often their outfits are un-ironed and have a thrown together look, because in fact they were thrown together. If you spend too much time on matching details, you will give away the fact, that you are not quite artist material.

Many artists wear dark colors and often are not quite in the right size. The starving artist look often means shopping in places like second-hand stores and vintage stores and choosing things with style. Sometimes they don’t perfectly fit, but adjustments can be made.:

Selections from Beadnerd.com:

Do you have any piercings? You’re not required to, as long as you employ many other methods of stand-out-isms, but it can help. Consider your eyebrow, especially. Or if you want something a little tamer, your cartilage. Be careful about nose rings. They can look trashy on girls instead of artsy.

Try Anthropologie, an artsy specialty clothing store.

Shopping at thrift stores is a killer way to get your different style on. You can find retro and modern styles and easily mix and match them. Thrift stores can be a great asset.


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