What To Wear On Stage When Singing

(Last Updated On: February 27, 2021)
Female singer wearing attractive outfits on stage for live performance.

Many singers do not realize that choosing the right outfit is a critical part of preparing a live performance. Indeed, your fashion choices not only set the atmosphere for your performance but also helps your audience identify the right mood for your music. Let’s not forget that a singer’s outfit can also help support the story their lyrics tell, thereby enhancing the performance.

Moreover, the perfect outfit can ensure that you’re in the right frame of mind when it’s time to sing. But, here’s the million-dollar question – what you wear when you have to go on stage for a singing performance?

Unlike when you’re starring in a musical theatre project, you have total freedom to pick outfits for a quick singing performance. No directors to choose your outfit, neither do you have to deal with a costumier that is obligated to bring only approved sketches to live. So, go ahead and choose some thrilling outfits for your singing gig or wedding performance.

However, before choosing the outfit you want, there are a few guidelines you should keep in mind. Not to worry, you don’t have to be passionate about fashion to understand the tips and strategies in this article. So, keep reading to find out what to wear when singing on stage.

Strategies to Help You Pick the Right Clothes for Your Singing Gigs

Here are some essential tips to help you make the right choice of what to wear when singing on stage:

1) Dress to Match Your Song & Character

One crucial element of the outfit you should pick for an on-stage music performance is that it must be appropriate for the type of song you’re singing and your character. Indeed, if you are taking part in a live singing competition, you should not dress like you’re attending a dinner or a cosplay convention.

Otherwise, you may run the risk of putting off your audience.

Of course, to decide on the perfect outfit, you need to have an in-depth understanding of the song you’re singing. Once you have this, choosing the most appropriate fashion ensemble becomes considerably more straightforward.

For example, if you are to sing a ballad, a more formal or conservative outfit may be the way to go. On the other hand, if you were to sing rock, leather jackets and metal accessories are typical choices most people make. Comparatively, the best outfits for HipHop or R ‘n’ B are generally those with more shine and bling to achieve the desired effect.

However, your outfit must always reflect the character you want your audience (or viewers) to see. But, take care that you don’t over-dress. Asking friends or family (with excellent fashion instincts) for their thoughts is a great way to achieve dressing moderation.

2) Know the Environment & Stage You Will Be Performing

Before you finalize the outfit you’ll be wearing for a singing performance, it is crucial that you know the stage’s layout and other related details. This way, you can be sure that the outfit you pick is up to the performance.

For instance, short skirts can look very nice when you wear them, but when the stage is way higher than the audience’s eye level, the audience may get a view of your undies. Therefore, it may be better to save that skirt for another outfit and wear a safer one. Clingy materials can also be risky or safe depending on various venue characteristics such as stairs, ventilation, etc.

3) Ensure Your Outfit is Comfortable

Before you consider anybody else’s needs, you need to put yours at the forefront. In other words, choose what to wear on stage when singing based on what you’ll be comfortable in. This way, you’re moving around on the stage, and at the peak of your performance hype, you don’t have to feel self-conscious.

For instance, some clothing items, including snug gowns, cummerbunds, and bowtie, may make breathing a bit more challenging. So, take your time to practice with the outfit you intend to wear to see if you can handle it. If you’re wearing a formal gown, or perhaps a tux, you may need some practice to figure out how to adjust your taffeta or part your coat-tails gracefully.

Furthermore, it is usually best to stay away from outfits that show sweaty outfits. This is because even with proper ventilation, hot stage lights alongside the energy you’re exerting can quickly draw some sweat from you. When this happens, bright stage lights may highlight the perspiration, depending on your clothing.

4) Select Flattering Outfit

Next on our tips on what to wear on stage when you’re singing, you want to choose an outfit that draws visual interest to you. In other words, wear something that shows off your preferred features and helps you command your audience’s attention. However, you also want to make sure you don’t overdo it.

Also, here is a pro tip for you. Do not wear pantyhose that has a sheen. Otherwise, the lights will reflect off them and exaggerate the size of your legs.

5) Throw in Some Sparkle

Sparkles (in moderation) are a sure-fire way to add some appealing twist and wow effect to your outfit. Indeed, adding some sparkles to your outfit can make it much more memorable for your audience. 

But, you should note a few things – wear only one shiny, sparkly item per time. Or you’d risk looking like a decorated Christmas tree in July. There’s also the fact that the stage lights will reflect off glitters in your outfit. Therefore, too much shiny material may blind your audience.

While trying to add some sparkle to your outfit, try to avoid trends. Instead, choose timeless fashion pieces. Also, strive for fashion consistency from gig to gig and performance to performance.

If you’re a band member, the entire group should pick a dressing theme for the band. This may include outfit patterns, color, accessories, and more. But, make sure the whole band dresses to kill it on stage, and not the lead singer alone.


Additional Tips

Wearing Makeup

While it is not always compulsory to wear makeup to every performance, it can help complement your outfit very nicely. That said, if you’re wearing makeup, here are a couple of things you should keep in mind:

  • Your makeup for a stage performance should be darker than your everyday makeup. This is because of the extra lights that you’ll have reflecting off your face.
  • Opt for a liquid foundation and use a setting powder.
  • Highlight your cheekbones, contour below them, and slap on some blush.
  • Use some eyeliner and eyeshadow but keep it minimal. Otherwise, you may exaggerate the dark circles beneath your eyes.
  • Finally, don’t use a lot of foundation, or you may end up with a face that’s too pale.

Style Your Hair

Looking your best on stage is not only about your outfit. Without some high-quality hair-styling, your hair may look lifeless, thereby putting a damper on your dressing. Moreover, styling your hair can add a bit of creativity and character to your presence on-stage.

But try not to go over the top.

If you’re not sure how to style your hair, you can seek professional advice to ensure you get it right. Remember, while the ultimate goal is to ensure your hair looks fantastic, you should also make sure the style you pick is appropriate for the song you’ll be performing. Besides, you should again try to keep your singing character in mind while styling your hair.\


Common Outfit Mistakes to Avoid While for On Stage Performance

Now that you know some practical strategies that can help you pick the best outfit for your singing performance, let us explore some common pitfalls you should avoid.

Noisy Jewelry

Some specific jewelry may pair very nicely with your chosen outfit, but if you can hear it when you walk, you shouldn’t wear it up on stage. Otherwise, you risk distracting yourself and your audience when you move around during your performance.

Uncomfortable shoes

Shoes are undoubtedly crucial elements to your outfit. Indeed, your choice of shoes can either make or mar your dress. However, there is one golden rule for performers – don’t wear shoes you can’t move in comfortably. 

Platform shoes may look super good, but leave them at home if you can’t get around much very conveniently in them. The same goes for spiky heels that make you doubt your walking capabilities. Rather than risk an in-performance accident, why not wear something else?

Avoid Wearing the Same Color With the Backdrop

Many people chose black as their go-to color because of its ‘slimming’ properties and ability to work with any other color. However, if your backdrop is black (as it commonly is), black will not help you. You’ll blend right into the stage, and no one will be able to see you.

If you sing rock or punk and need’ the color black in your outfit, mix black jeans with a different color top. A white shirt with some inscription is an excellent way to add some color to the picture.


Additional Fashion Tips for Male and Female Singers

Before we wrap things up, let us quickly examine some additional tips for picking the perfect outfit:

Clothing Rules for Female Singers

  • Wearing heels can give your legs a long and appealing look. But, make sure you’re comfortable in them.
  • Always wear pantyhose.
  • Hemlines should never be above your knees unless you’re wearing them as a costume.
  • Displaying cleavage is generally inappropriate.
  • Style your hair such that it doesn’t hide your face.
  • It is advisable to wear makeup to avoid looked stressed and dull while on stage. Also, red lipstick is typically the best color.
  • Loose-fitting dresses will not hide the extra pounds. Instead, wear a nicely tailored outfit with a waistband and hemline proportionate to your height.

Clothing Rules for Male Singers

  • Shine your shoes before coming on stage.
  • Match your socks to your shoes and not your pants’ hemline.
  • The hemline of your pants should be a full-break or at least a half-break.
  • You can wear a light-colored long-sleeved dress shirt with a tie in place of the traditional jacket and tie.
  • Finally, always take a trip to the barbers before your big day on stage.

Wrap Up

Undoubtedly, your outfit is an integral part of your music performance. Indeed, it not only helps make you feel confident but can also help you attract and hold the attention of your audience. There’s also the fact that it can help you communicate better with your listeners. So, you see, there’s a world of advantages the right dressing can offer you while on stage.

Hopefully, this article has helped you gain some insight into what to wear when singing on stage. Remember, the most crucial strategy is to feel comfortable and confident in whatever you choose to wear. That, alongside the above tips, should help you up your fashion game on stage.

Have fun dressing up!

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