Balance between visible and over-bright?
December 8, 2010 6:53 PM   Subscribe

Wardrobe oxymoron? Seeking accessories or clothing items that are 'memorable' (and recognizable across a long distance) but not massively bright or glitzy.

I'm hoping to find some accessories that will let people who initially see me from a distance remember what I look like and seek me out later. The issue is that "big and bright accessories" doesn't feel like my style at all.

Context: I'm a composer, so when I have a piece performed in a good-sized hall, there are a bunch of strangers (some far away from me and/or elevated above me) who are looking at me for only a short time during the applause after the piece. (Time range is c. 30 seconds to a few minutes, depending on whether I'm just standing in place or walking up onto the stage, which varies concert by concert.) People who want to find me and talk to me after the concert need to be able to think to themselves, "Okay, she's the one with the bright green scarf" or whatever.

The obvious question is "Well, what do your female colleagues wear if they're having a piece in a big hall?" and the answer is "Generally, scarves and/or clothing more bright and plumage-y than I want for myself." I might need to just become okay with being plumage-y, but I thought I'd ask to find any ideas I'm missing. In general, my clothing is medium to dark solid colors (not white or light colors, and not black) including a long skirt.

Either general or product-specific ideas would be very helpful!
posted by kalapierson to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps a shawl? This one is lovely, and seems like it would go nicely with sober colors underneath.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:01 PM on December 8, 2010

could you give us some links to some skirts or tops or shoes you might wear, so we can get an idea of your style?
posted by nadawi at 7:04 PM on December 8, 2010

What about a hat?
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:13 PM on December 8, 2010

I would go for a distinctive looking jacket/blazer type thing. Brocade with some metallic details or perhaps velvet/velour in a deep color like a dark green or maroon.
posted by emd3737 at 7:15 PM on December 8, 2010

If you don't want to wear something sparkly or poufy, you could find a scarf that fits closely around your neck, like this, or a piece of distinctive (and big enough to be visible from stage) jewelry, like a necklace with a giant pendant or chunky beads.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:17 PM on December 8, 2010

How about a vest like the lace one shown here. Vests are uncommon enough that they would be noticed, but not in a neon feather boa kind of way.

Maybe a flower in your hair?
posted by defreckled at 7:19 PM on December 8, 2010

I agree that a distinctive scarf or shawl would be the most obvious and qualifier-neutral (i.e. age, aesthetic, colors you look good in, etc) choice here. This is a little corny, but if the shawl had an identifiable pattern or design, that might be even better. Much easier to pick out "the woman in the shawl with the peacock on it" than "the woman in the green shawl".

If you are young: menswear-inspired vest, distinctive jacket (I wouldn't go bright colored, brocade, metallic etc unless you are middle-aged), or a dress in a unique color or pattern. Maybe some fabulous boots?

If you are more middle aged: here I think you could get away with a brightly colored pantsuit or the like. Or maybe rock the Hermes scarf thing.

I once saw a woman at a gala for a museum I once worked for who was wearing a velvet suit in a dark color like navy or eggplant. I spent the whole night wondering who she was.
posted by Sara C. at 7:34 PM on December 8, 2010

Do you wear glasses? A pair of eyeglasses with brightly-colored but sophisticated and otherwise non-flashy frames can be a simple and very memorable accessory, without being too gimmicky. (I really like these red ones, for example.) They draw people's eyes to yours, so they'll remember your face and not your scarf.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:36 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd have said a hat, but they're not worn in the evenings. How about a fascinator? You should be able to find a suitable one kn Etsy.
posted by tel3path at 7:38 PM on December 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

posted by tel3path at 7:46 PM on December 8, 2010

Can you dramatically change the colour of your outfit? Like getting a good stage outfit made in red, or any other striking colour that suits your skin tone?
posted by shazzam! at 7:57 PM on December 8, 2010

Distinctive hair will also do this, combined with large not neccessarily glitzy earrings and you would not be too tough to find.
posted by jessamyn at 8:00 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ok, well, this might not be helpful since you don't like "big and bright" but...

I love wearing chunky, richly colored gemstone necklaces. I have one in a coral and one in kelly green dyed turquoise. People always compliment me when I wear them, and even though they are large and colorful, I think it's a more elegantly memorable look than garishly memorable look. This type of jewelry, IMHO, is especially good with simple, dark clothing (which I also often wear). It instantly gives what would be a more casual look polish and srtle. I recommend looking on etsy--you can really find some beautiful pieces at reasonable prices. "Chunky" is a good keyword search to start with. Good luck!
posted by faeuboulanger at 8:02 PM on December 8, 2010

You could use a neutral-color scarf. That would probably be distinctive enough (dark clothes, light neutral scarf) and might be more in your comfort zone.

Beige scarf with a few sparkles (this one's expensive but you could certainly find one for less)

gray scarf with distinctive texture (ruffles)
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:41 AM on December 9, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the ideas so far! Sara C, help me out: why is brocade not a good choice for young people? (I'm early 30s and fairly young-looking.)

I should emphasize that I'm looking for things that are recognizable across a far distance, up to a few hundred feet (with some people seeing me only from behind and/or only from above).
posted by kalapierson at 12:47 AM on December 9, 2010

When I perform, I usually wear a big red rose in my hair. It's highly recognizable from a distance and has become a bit of a personal trademark. Perhaps something similar but toned down would work for you?
posted by platinum at 3:00 AM on December 9, 2010

A brocade jacket just screams "old lady", to me. There are probably exceptions out there, but if you want to get a "statement" blazer, I'd not get anything Hillary Clinton would wear.

This is probably as close to metallic/brocade/ornate as I'd go if I were you. Though I don't think this particular example would fit your criteria (unless you wear it with a red dress, which, YES!)

This, on the other hand? This could work.

YMMV on all things aesthetic, of course - I may turn my nose up at the fuchsia pants-suits of this world, but they obviously work for some people.
posted by Sara C. at 6:30 PM on December 9, 2010

I feel you on how hard it is to dress for being on stage without feeling over the top. Stage makeup alone is pretty traumatic, but it helped me get over it to remember that it didn't look garish up close.

I would suggest looking toward distinctive cuts and shapes that create visual interest. I like the suggestion above to experiment with color. A very minimal dress in a stunning shade with high pigment would really pop. I'm this dress is ridiculously expensive but I think it gets the point across:

Another option:

You could also try some very modern, metal jewelry. Something like this is very minimal but would probably be visible from a distance if done properly.

simple but dramatic is your friend.
posted by amycup at 9:46 PM on December 20, 2010

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