It’s All About Appearances…

After years of only wearing dresses on stage I have decided it is time for a change. For one thing I can’t wear heels when I am playing music on a stage, I don’t know how some women do it! I have been performing barefoot for years. I would get ready for a gig and many of the dresses I wore looked the best with heels. However, the first thing I would do when I got to the gig was lose the shoes. This is for a couple of reasons, heels are downright uncomfortable, I didn’t want to be stumbling around on stage because many of the stages we play on are uneven or carpeted, and lastly 95% of the time there are snakes of chords all over the stage and the way I move around I was always afraid of tripping. 

Of course there are still going to be instances where I wear dresses, I am not completely off the hook on that one, but I have decided to opt for comfort. I also love wearing hats so the new look is going to be shirts with a nice cut and cool patterns that can be worn with nice jeans, leggings or black pants and fedoras, chapeaus or whatever hat I happen to be into on that particular week. The problem always boils down to the damn shoes! I have a closet chalk full of shoes ranging in heel height and I just simply can not decide on a shoe that will look good with the wide leg black pants I am wearing tonight. I’m stuck between flat ballet slippers, my high heeled zip up boots or my strappy heeled sandals. At the end of the day it probably doesn’t matter because the shoe will inevitably come off and end up under a table somewhere.

I know this may seem like a silly thing to be talking about, but in reality it isn’t. Your stage appearance is ultimately important for a variety of reasons. It is the first impression you convey to your audience and it is the image they will carry off of you long after the lights have gone down and the song is over. When I first started performing heavy metal back in the late 80’s and early 90’s the look was big hair, skin tight dresses and leggings and black layered on more black. Then in the mid 90’s when I finally found the blues, my genre to be sure, I was wearing pinstripe suits and dresses. I had one suit taylor made that cost me a pretty penny and then I had a few other dresses, but all were black pinstripe and the guys wore black pants, white shirts and black ties. 

For the last 12 years it has been dresses, some black, some loose and hippy, some long and flowing. Now I have decided I am going for comfort, but I also need to keep up appearances so it’s all going to be about patterns and accessories. How you present yourself to an audience is as important as everything else we do as a lead front person because it sets the impression of who the audience sees in their mind and the perception they have of your band. If you dress trashy that is who the audience is going to perceive you to be. Now here comes the sucky part of the deal. Women are 100 times more critical of female lead singers and band members than men are. If you walk onto stage dressed like a trashy slut you are alienating 50% of your audience because women will immediately hate you. It’s sad but true.

When you decide to dress for a gig you always have to keep in the back of your mind the message you are conveying. Are you saying, “I’m a laid back cool person.” Or are you saying, “I am a trashy person.” Believe it or not your appearance is just as important as the songs you choose to sing. If you’re making millions you can convey anything you like and get away with it for the most part. But, if like me, you are performing in venues in your local town or venues in your area you need to take time thinking about the message you are conveying as a front person. I know this may seem like a silly discussion, but at the end of the day those people that see you on stage are going to carry away with them the image that you chose to portray on stage. It’s up to you to decide what message you want to send. The biggest thing to keep in mind is not to alienate your audience, and this goes double for female lead front singers. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how good you think you are as a vocalist if you convey the wrong message it won’t matter.

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4 thoughts on “It’s All About Appearances…

  1. Phil says:

    Interesting topic. I would say prior to the late 60’s, almost all musicians and performers dressed a lot more formally for their gigs. Then it exploded and fragmented. Everyone did their own thing, and by the time the 80’s hit, the outfits went way over the top, and once the musical genres further fragmented, each had their own style, but none looking back to the formal at all. I do think you have a point that you send a message out there with what you choose to wear. I’m just glad I don’t have to wear heels…

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