Friday, July 30, 2010

Dress for Success - a few ideas for body type

weekend musings...

I've spoken of these things before, but it can always be repeated and shifted a bit...

This is mainly for the ladies (Sorry guys) but I can speak  to the men as another blog!!!

As performers we have many times of day we operate in,  and for many occasions.

Auditions,  concerts,  masterclasses,  competitions....

What do you wear?!  When do you wear it?  How do you decide???

No matter what size you are - there are basic body types that we tend to fall into as women:

1.  APPLE:  narrowest point above the natural waist just below the ribcage

2.  STRAIGHT: little definition between bust, waist and hips

3.  PEAR:  fuller at hip and rear and smaller on top

4.  HOURGLASS:  curvy, with full bust, full hips and smaller waistline

5.   FULL BUST:  bust is fuller than your hips and your butt

And no matter WHAT, there are certain colours that look better on us than others.  Find those!!  Any colour that looks amazing on you needs to be close to your face to bring out your best features.

What ARE your best features??  And what do you LOVE about you???

BRING THOSE OUT!  Eyes, cheekbones, lips,  shoulders, hair, legs,  decollege, don't shy away!!!

Remember, if you are auditioning,  no matter what time of day or night, it is a JOB INTERVIEW.  You are not at a Carnegie Hall debut.   This should be BUSINESS DRESS.  No evening fabrics needed.  Tea length is appropriate for a dress/skirt.  Pants are fine if the fabric and fit suit you well.  Skirt length shouldn't be too short - you still have to plant and sing, and a breath shouldn't reveal anything private!!

If you are afraid to breathe, it isn't going to work for an audition or ANY performance!!!

And don't forget the importance of UNDERGARMENTS!!!! REAL ONES!!!!  They will keep the girls up,  and eliminate any bumps or lumps so the lines are flowing...

If you are competing or performing - if it's daytime, do not wear an evening gown!   Evening gown = EVENING! That means after 5 p.m.

If you are competing after 5 p.m. and it's in a florescent lit classroom,  NO EVENING GOWN.

Evening gowns are for the STAGE in the EVENING!!!!

Masterclasses - no matter WHAT the time of day should be looked at as a work session - business casual can work quite well.  Still pulled together, but in something that will "give" in order for you to work with the Master teacher.

SO - here are some SIMPLE suggestions to perhaps give you more ideas...or solidify your decisions as you invest in your exterior!!!

1.  STRAIGHT body type:  fitted sheaths can play up your lines and great for daytime/auditions/masterclasses - but if you want to create more curve, baby doll and A-line can help, as well as embroidery, gathers, small patterns, to create interest....

Here are a few suggestions for DAYTIME auditions (opera - perhaps a longer hemline;  MT - hemline as is or a little longer)  You can always add a jacket/sweater , accessories,  depending on what you want to play up!  This if for EVERY body type.

Here are some evening gowns - EVENING - length/fabric for PERFORMANCE on STAGE!

Again - watch the hemlines - these might be too short depending on the occasion, and your legs (!) but these are more dressy - evening masterclass/evening audition/or even a late afternoon concert...

2.  PEAR SHAPE:  possibilities - again,  watch the hemlines depending on the occasion and your legs!
you want to find something that has a full skirt and fitted, open neck or strapless top to bring the eye UP!
semi-formal - evening masterclass

Formal performance

3.  APPLE - look for empire waist dresses that float away from your midsection

for Audition:



4.  HOURGLASS - look for things to emphasize your waist!


semi formal:


5. FULL BUST - look for U or V necks and balance with a full skirt or A line skirt


semi formal


***Edited to add a few "suits" that would work for auditions - especially for opera/concert/classical work:

and a few more...

I know this might be overkill...but it might give you ideas!

Shape,  fabric,  colour should suit YOU and the situation you are in!

emphasize your assets and minimize what you don't want to be as noticeable!

SHOES are crucial too!!! If you are wearing leather make sure it isn't scuffed.  Make sure your heels aren't missing a peg...

And ladies - YOU MUST WEAR HEELS!!!!

DO NOT WEAR CHARACTER SHOES for audition or performance

Find a heel height that you can walk in, move in,  support and sing in and make it work with your clothing!  

Bare legs are fine - as long as you are smooth and buffed - cover up the cuts, bruises or blemishes and make sure your feet are pedicured!!!!  

edited to add:  be careful under what lighting you are wearing bare legs as hose on a backlit stage will be better!


Make sure the shoe fits the outfit and the occasion.  If you aren't sure, ASK!

MAKEUP?  yes please.

Lips and eyes are crucial.  If you don't know, LEARN.   Many make up counters out there that can help you!  Wander around and ask questions!

Daytime makeup is VERY different from evening.  Everything intensifies for evening.  Learn how!

HAIR - off your face!  Doesn't mean you have to pull it so tightly you look like Norma Desmond caught in an elevator door,  nor does it mean you have to have pageant hair!

Hair needs to be a part of your accessory - it should make sense to what you are wearing, and what the occasion is.

Accessories - yes.  You don't have to drip in every piece of jewellery you own.  It is to accentuate, not take over.  Again, what time of day is it, and what is the occasion?

Just wanted to give you a few things to think about - YOU are the package, you have worked hard at your craft, and what you package that craft in needs just as much attention.

It doesn't take much - just a little attention and realization.  IT MATTERS.  YOU MATTER.

Make the visual count.  If they embrace you because you present with authority, they will LISTEN to you too!


  1. Susan, thank you for this post. I'm one of those ladies who wants to be well-dressed but struggles to find attire that is flattering and appealing to me - so your advice really helps.

    May I ask from which stores you got these images? Perhaps I just don't know where to shop, but it seems that whenever I walk into a store, all I can find is trendy prom junk instead of dresses that are classy, elegant, professional, and feminine.

  2. These images were found from many of the online department stores - Nordstroms, Macys, Lord & Taylor, Ann Taylor, and even Victoria's Secret, Speigel, Newport News and the like.

    Check out Filene's and Loemanns if you are in NYC too!