Will Beethoven roll over in his grave at the sight of jeans?
January 29, 2011 10:08 AM   Subscribe

Going to see an NSO performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC tonight. Does it matter what I wear?

I'm a guy. Will I stick out if I wear jeans and a sweater? What is typically expected?
posted by the foreground to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total)
Yes, this is quite underdressed. A suit would be most appropriate. By no means should you wear jeans. Although no one else will care much.
posted by kevinsp8 at 10:25 AM on January 29, 2011

Unless there's something special about the NSO or event that I don't know about, I don't think a suit is necessary. I mean, the only time I've ever NOT worn jeans or the casual equivalent to a classical music concert is when I'm part of the orchestra (and then I have to wear a tailcoat and white bow tie). Again, maybe the above poster knows something I don't. I'd say, if you have slacks/khakis, and a button-down shirt, go for it, but don't stress about it.

I guess it also depends how old you are. Sure, some men above say 40 might be wearing a suit. But I'm assuming if you're asking what to wear to a classical music concert you're under 40.
posted by Busoni at 10:52 AM on January 29, 2011

This is from their blog regarding a recent concert. As it says on the bottom, you could wear what you wanted. I don't know if that was just for that concert, but I think "smart casual" or "business casual" will be completely safe, and if you want to wear jeans and a sweater go for it.
posted by Busoni at 10:55 AM on January 29, 2011

I see I've left out the link: http://kcblogger.kennedy-center.org/sites/nso/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=102
posted by Busoni at 10:58 AM on January 29, 2011

Best answer: Here's a real authority (/sarcasm).

There's going to be a divide of opinion on how dressy to dress for things like shows and restaurants. These days, do as you please, but in my opinion (old-fashioned), a Saturday night at the symphony is a relatively formal occasion. So pick from the more formal of your clothes, and if that's jeans then so be it I guess. I think it's nice to indicate respect for the (formally dressed) performers and your companion (if any) and the occasion by making an effort. Jeans and sweater kind of says 'I don't care about any of this'. A suit isn't necessary of course, but I'd say you could at least wear non-jeans, a button-down shirt and a sport coat.
posted by kevinsp8 at 11:23 AM on January 29, 2011

Best answer: Here's a photo of the NSO audience and you can see the majority of the men appear to be wearing suits. Doesn't mean you have to. But the question involved "sticking out" and "typical".
posted by kevinsp8 at 11:32 AM on January 29, 2011

I saw the NSO at the Kennedy Center less than a year ago. I saw people in jeans to suits and everything in between. I really think you're ok in jeans as long as they're not holey and grungy.
posted by fresh-rn at 12:00 PM on January 29, 2011

As a man in his early 30s who attends 6-8 orchestra concerts per year, I usually wear slacks (not jeans) and a buttondown shirt, without a tie. My shoes are usually dress shoes, though loafers would probably be all right.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:05 PM on January 29, 2011

Jeans are fine. If you feel self-conscious, go a step up in the clothing dep't. Unless you're a retiree, you'll probably feel a bit overdressed in a suit. But really, you should just wear whatever you're comfortable with - there's always a mix at the symphony so you'll fit in regardless.
posted by clipperton at 12:05 PM on January 29, 2011

Actually, trends lately see a lot of younger guys dressing more formally while the old farts often look rather schleppy. And for a younger guy, a symphony performance may be more of a treat and a reason to dress up than someone who's been to many.
posted by kevinsp8 at 1:32 PM on January 29, 2011

Never seen the symphony at the Kennedy Center but I've been there countless times, and you'll see patrons wearing all kinds of oufits, walking the red carpets. Your jeans (if clean) and sweater will be fine, especially if your shoes are nice.
posted by Rash at 2:10 PM on January 29, 2011

In my experience, weekend evening performances at the Kennedy Center draw a wide variety of dress, but with a preponderance of dressier attire. There are plenty of people who treat performances as an occasion to dress up, and plenty who don't. I think you're best off wearing something that feels like special occasion clothing, but won't make you feel like you're playing dress-up.
posted by EvaDestruction at 2:37 PM on January 29, 2011

When I lived in DC, I went to the Kennedy Center a few times and saw a wide variety. I was dressed in a suit when I went most of the times, but I was just coming from work. I've been to classical concerts in the UK, Germany, Austria, and the US, and, except for opera, I've never felt out of place in a nice pair of jeans, shined shoes, and a button down shirt. Pull a thin sweater over it for extra appeal, or pair it with a nice blazer.

Classical concerts are one of those things where there'll be a wide variety of dress types. As someone above said - if your jeans are nice, and if your sweater fits well and looks good, then you'll be fine.

I'd compare it to something you'd wear if you were on a nice date.
posted by SNWidget at 10:20 PM on January 29, 2011

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