How to Dress for an Art Event

An art opening is a special occasion that requires you to carefully consider your own outfit. While dressing well is central, you might have to tailor your clothes to match the specifics of different openings. Gala events may call for a fancier dress code, whereas intimate galleries may better accommodate unique styles of dress which range from conservative to avant-garde and edgy.

Follow the Dress Code

Many invitations for gallery openings include a dress code for the function. If that is the case, it’s very important to adhere to the dress code specified by the gallery. If there isn’t any dress code stated, then dressy cocktail or casual wear is a safe bet. In all cases, avoid jeans, baggy shirts and boat shoes. While dress codes might not be strictly enforced by galleries, disregarding the dress code is deemed disrespectful — to the artist and into the gallery. Openings are special events that celebrate the hard work of an artist, so respect and consideration have to be shown by dressing in a suitable fashion.

Dress for the Gallery

For bigger museum openings, classic cocktail wear or even black tie is considered standard. In cases like this, conservative or traditional choices — the little black dress and a tuxedo are the best bets. With smaller galleries, you might want to more carefully tailor your clothing choices to the sort of opening. For example, LA-based stylist Lauren Messiah explains that dress options for uptown and downtown openings differ considerably. She indicates that a downtown gallery frequently features more contemporary-oriented artwork, so an edgier ensemble — like a coat with an asymmetrical cut for women — is much better suited. For an uptown gallery, where the art and gallery are more conventional, top and skirt — or jeans and a button-up shirt for guys — may be more fitting.

Dress for the Occasion

The more exclusive the opening — if it’s personal or by invitation only — the more upscale the dress requirement could be. For guys, this may mean wearing a suit and tie instead of simply a dress shirt and slacks. For girls, this is an opportunity to pull out the sparkly cocktail dress or the elegant silk slip dress in your closet. Occasions that require a black tie dress code will clearly state so on the invitation – like the opening of a major museum.

Shoes and Bags

Choosing the perfect footwear is essential for an opening because you’ll probably be walking and standing in crowded conditions for an extended period. As a result of this, comfortable footwear that will make it possible for you to move around easily — without danger of tripping or slipping — is vital. Therefore, no matter how stylish your strappy heels might be, aim for lower heels unless you’re positive you’ll be comfortable in stilettos for many hours. Last, see that the opening will be crowded and there might be little room to move around. Therefore, leave your oversized handbag behind and decide on a small clutch, which makes it easier for you to walk around the gallery without the danger of hitting a piece of precious art.

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