Dress For The Stage

By David A. Barber
Author of Gigging, Everything You Need to Know About Playing Gigs (Except How to Play Your Axe)

This is all very subjective and up for debate, but here are our opinions on what you should wear on stage.

goose onstage

It is our opinion that one should dress for the stage.  That means nothing more than wearing something different than what you’d wear otherwise.  Don’t just wear whatever you’ve been wearing all day.  That may be fine for practice and rehearsal, but it leaves much to be desired on the stage.
Yes. we know it is more important what you play and how well you play it than what you wear.  We agree.  However, once you’ve mastered your playing, you should put some thought into your stage presence.  That’s commonly more about attitude than clothing, but it can help you to become a rock star if you’re dressed like one.  Yes, we know some rock stars dress in sloppy torn up clothes.  Sometimes, even the same dirty rags they’ve been wearing all day, but not very many of them, and those that can get away with it, have tremendously good music and/or a powerful stage presence.  If you haven’t been blessed with those (and we hope that you have) or even if you have, why not give the people in the audience something to look at?  You don’t have to wear expensive clothes or be on the cutting edge of fashion, just dress for the stage.
A good rule of thumb is: If you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing it on the street, then it’s perfectly suited for the stage.
Sequins and rhinestones and fabulously flashy or glittery things look great on stage.
To save money, you can shop at the thrift store.
If nobody in the band has any fashion sense, recruit a girlfriend, sister, or female fan to dress you,
If you do wear a costume or fancy outfit, don’t wear it during load-in.  It’ll get hot, dirty, sweaty and uncomfortable that much faster.  Wear your comfy jeans and t-shirt for load-in and soundcheck, then run to the green room, restroom or your van to change.  Make it big a deal when you hit the stage.

Every genre is different and what you wear will likely depend on that, but don’t just wear whatever you saw your heroes wearing on MTV.  That will just make you look like a wannabe.  Take some similar style elements and make it your own.  Don’t just wear the exact same clothes you saw on TV, but take something similar and add your own style to it.
Bottom line: wear something on stage that you wouldn’t wear anywhere else.
With some luck, kids all over the nation will be following your lead in fashion one day.

Oh, yeah.  In 5-10 years you will probably laugh at yourself for wearing that on stage but don’t let it slow you down.  That will happen no matter what you wear.

dress for the stage