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semi-formal attire! Panic ensues


Stokely

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Despite the fact that I'm pushing 50, I know nothing about semi-formal or formal attire. I now understand formal means tux. Actually I'm glad I don't have to deal with it at all for my job, that's another story. Jeans and sneaks for my database programmer job...

 

Anyway, we got a private gig that is a step up from our norm (we are weekend warriors) and they want us in "semi-formal". Google suggests this is a suit (ugh). I own one brown sport coat, last worn 5 years ago to a wedding. I was hoping that "semi-formal" might let me go for a Flogging Molly vest-tie combo but it doesn't seem like it.

 

I'm in the process of losing a bunch of weight so I hate to buy a suit right now. I wouldn't mind having one, and if I bought one I'd try to buy a decent one (at least not a cheap nasty one, my idea of quality might differ from others'). Would you suggest renting?

 

Any suggestions for cool "semi-formal" looks that won't make me look like a middle manager at an accounting firm (not that there's anything wrong with that)!

 

I wonder if the Blues Brothers' suits qualify...

 

 

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My wife is the Sales Master, able to find 75% off with unerring accuracy. Hopefully we can find something nice--yet rock-n-roll, maybe that means black--for cheap. I do have shirts and shoes at least. Not a tie in my closet unless I still have some of my dad's 1970s ultra-wide plaid monstrosities that I kept just because.
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I have to go to occasional formal, black tie, white tie affairs each year and simply can't be bothered to own all of the crap that goes along with it for a onesy twosy occurence of each. I have a nice suit and a nice sport coat, but beyond that I just find a decent tailor and rent. That way you can dial in whatever the situation warrants (over the top, marginally acceptable or smack in the middle - whatever you're comfortable with) and the tailor will alter everything to fit even if you've gained or lost a few lbs. since the last time you had to do it.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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don't buy a business suit, then. Since you are changing sizes it might be cheaper to just rent a tuxedo than buy a jacket and trousers that you will never wear again. Or do what is often practised by the fairer sex, buy what you need, wear it once and return it on Monday if you can live with that. (It's not something I do, but I know it happens often.)
:nopity:
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What is all the other crap once you are past the suit? Or do you mean different kinds of suits for different events other than your one nice suit?

 

I do have decent shoes and shirts, even pants, but not a full-on matching suit.

 

I have no clue what these "dial-in" conditions might be LOL Hopefully everyone will get to strip off the monkey gear once things get rolling...

 

 

 

 

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What is all the other crap once you are past the suit? Or do you mean different kinds of suits for different events other than your one nice suit?

 

Example: Tux. Ruffled shirt, shirt studs, bow tie, cummerbund, pocket hanky, patent leather shoes,cufflinks, pocket flask!

 

in short, crap.

White tie is a different sort of crap. Just not worth having unless you do that sort of thing all the time.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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85-90% of the time in the Pop band I wear something that may pass for a "SEMI" quasi formal thing that doesn't look like day job clothes. The initial thought came for our lighting guru Nate who stressed bright colors work better than dark colors.

 

I wear white pants and white tie and a white hat. The hats are $12 at a place called Party City. My shirts are a bright often pastel long sleeve shirt. I've accumulated an orange, pink, purple(too dark), green etc.... This is just the Pop band. In a Country band I would dress like I belonged in a Country Band, a Rock band etc ......

 

But the Pop band uniform is pretty cheap. $19 pants, $10 Wal Mart tie, a dress shirt. But Evidently I look like someone named Heisenberg.

 

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y70/CEB2/White%20Hat2_zpsbiuyvfuf.jpg

 

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y70/CEB2/010315boon_zpsc195b9fb.jpg

 

If it is really hot and we are doing something informal like a dive bar or beer tent I replace the dress shirt with a bright solid T-shirt. T-shirts are hard to keep tucked in. I like uniforms. I don't like to think about what to wear.

 

 

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y70/CEB2/2015%20ISF%201_zps4trp2fnc.jpg

 

 

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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I used to live in Palm Beach county. The old neighborhood was really nice. I hear it went to Hell in the 90s. I came back to Illinois, my brother moved up to Vero Beach. It is pretty nice there.

 

The Pop Band plays weddings. We try to price ourselves out of the wedding business but seem to end up doing a few. We don't do tuxes or special wedding stuff. People that hire us have usually heard us or at least the bride usually has.. We just promise to bring the experience that inspired them to hire us in the first place. But we do as a general rule dress well regardless it is a wedding or a fair or whatever. What you see is what you get.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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In my experiance semi formal is

formal but jackets off and sleeves up.

Or jackets with no ties etc.

 

Like you are dressed up but discarded

a couple things to get comfortable.

Killer sneakers can work.

 

You get into issues when the interpretation

turns in to beat up everyday shoes.

"And my cool t-shirt". And

"Hey, I wore a jacket this morning "

 

You need to look expensive if you want

to be expensive.

 

John

 

 

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I still have a tux, if formal is required. But for semi-formal gigs I've been able to do dress shirt &tie (or classy, band-collar dress shirts), jacket, and black denim. Yep, black denim. Have been complimented by clients and leaders alike on the look..

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In my experiance semi formal is

formal but jackets off and sleeves up.

Or jackets with no ties etc.

 

Like you are dressed up but discarded

a couple things to get comfortable.

Killer sneakers can work.

 

You get into issues when the interpretation

turns in to beat up everyday shoes.

"And my cool t-shirt". And

"Hey, I wore a jacket this morning "

 

You need to look expensive if you want

to be expensive.

 

John

 

 

That would work for me. As I say, I already have some nice shirts and a nice pair of black shoes.

 

I'd like to go with a vest and tie (going back to that Flogging Molly thing, I've seen a couple of them rock this) and white shirt, but I'm not sure it would fly. I think it would look plenty dressy, but it doesn't "officially" meet the criteria!

 

Edit: as in the banjo player here:

http://acltv.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/floggingmolly_marquee.jpg

 

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As someone who dresses well nowadays (I prefer suits for work life, do a lot of gigs in jacket, jacket & tie, and formal, and have spent the last several years updating my personal style, wardrobe and tastes), a few thoughts:

 

1) Get as much detail from bandleader about expectations. Find out what is required, what is "nice, but not absolutely required" and what is simply BL's personal opinion. This will give you the landscape of options better than guessing.

 

2) Black is always a reasonable option for performers. Another benefit - cheap black clothes doesn't look as cheap from audience distance as cheap clothes of a different hue. Therefore a cheap black suit (or mismatched black pants and jacket) appear more congruent to an audience.

 

3) The real key, no matter what you choose, is fit. Wearing great clothes that don't fit well (and fit your body type) will look amateurish. Wearing not so great clothes that fit well can still be aces.

 

4) If in doubt, ask (and show) your bandleader. Your vest & tie look may be perfectly acceptable - or not. Only your bandleader knows.

 

5) To me the secret of dressing well is to be confident and comfortable in your own skin. Nothing screams amateur louder than a guy in a suit that isn't quite comfortable in one. Always pulling at the neck or lapels, walking like there's an egg in one shoe, etc. Whatever you choose, own it and wear it like you live it.

 

6) This stuff is important. At one level, it shouldn't be. The music I create should be enough, right? But life ain't fair. 90% of audiences listen with their eyes. The visual presentation you bring them is just as important (if not more so) than the quality of your patches and your downstream amplification. Wish it wasn't so, but....

 

7) If you get a jacket (rent or buy), the only non-negotiable is the fit of the shoulders. Everything else can be altered by a good tailor. And what dresses up a jacket (with or without a tie) is an appropriate pocket square. A crisp white, neatly folded square in a black jacket pocket is a timeless look that always rocks. Colors, patterns and polka dots on a pocket square attract female eyes more effectively than shiny jewelry.

 

8) Dare to rock nice socks. Ditch the black socks (and for the love of all that is holy, don't wear white ones) and gig argyle, spots or bright colors (even with a black suit). You're a musician, not an accountant.

 

9) Depending on your geography, there may be a vintage clothing store (pre-owned clothes) near you. This can be a lifesaver for gigs. Here in the SF Bay Area, there are many that have a great selection of suits appropriate for gig life - when I was in my mid 20's this was a great resource to quickly build a go-to wardrobe.

 

Hope some of this is helpful.

 

Tim

..
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I live about two blocks from Goodwill. You'd be amazed how cheaply you can look great. I have bought some truly beautiful suits there for $19.00, minus an additional discount for flashing my University ID card. Great ties, too. As a musician, you can really benefit from a great second-hand store, because what people might find too slick or flashy or even "dated" for business purposes--and will therefore leave unworn in their closets until their wives make them get rid of them on their next Goodwill run--are perfect for us.
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Thanks guys! Holy crap Tim, that is good stuff. I'm afraid I'm probably going to be pulling at the collar unless I give a massive mental effort to avoid it...I haven't buttoned a collar in years, I don't wear a collar much to begin with!

 

My bandleader has already checked out of the discussion on our private fb page, she just says "I'd probably go with a dark suit" and that's that. We are not a pro band but we do want to do things professionally, so I agree this stuff is important. Our bass player also mentioned thrift stores and I have a month and a half so I'll give those a shot! Black suit shouldn't be too hard to find. I still think the vest/tie looks sharp though and it would be easier to play in than an actual suit.

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My bandleader has already checked out of the discussion on our private fb page, she just says "I'd probably go with a dark suit" and that's that. I still think the vest/tie looks sharp though and it would be easier to play in than an actual suit.

Given this, I'd go black lounge suit, with either a black or bright single-coloured shirt, depending on what the rest of the band is doing, and what you like better, and a black tie. And why not a vest if you like the way it looks? You can get all of this stuff much cheaper than you think, and the option to hire is always there too as you've mentioned.

 

When you get to the show, you'll get a "vibe" for the dress code by looking at others. You can always lose the jacket/tie if it feels like it's too much at that point.

 

Oh, and you'll need a black belt and black shoes too.

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3-PC suit and ditch the jacket once you start playing, leaving yourself in the vest/tie combo, and roll your sleeves a little later.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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You need to look expensive if you want

to be expensive

 

This

 

When I first started doing Broadcast (later Computer) Consulting work, I really had very clue about suits.

I was greatly embarrassed in my 20's, I was covering news for a radio station, had only one suit, which was in the cleaners, when I had to cover a press meeting with the state governor.

I bought a book by John T. Molloy, "Dress for Success." Applied it, bought the colors and cuts that were recommended. One of the best investments I made to build my business. Not always most comfortable, I well remember being out in the middle of a country field surveying a potential transmitter/tower site in Jacksonville, FL in a 3-piece suit & tie in summer. After I got to know the client well, I would relax the dress code somewhat (but never to the point of tasteless).

 

Dressing properly for the occasion is a part of success - if a gig is at the corner bar, the band still needs to be dressed properly, but it will not be formal or semi-formal attire. Corporate and private gigs can bring in enough extra $$$ to make the effort and expense of some extra clothes very worthwhile.

 

I rented a tux twice during the time I was learning ballroom dancing. Then talked with the rental place and found that I could buy the used tux that I had rented for about the cost of 4 rentals. I once was up to 225 lb, currently at 162, and have been 160-170 for over 25 years, so that tux still fits.

 

Super bargain sometimes. I really didn't need a dinner jacket, but found my size for $10 plus tax in a place which was going out of business and only had a few pieces left. I do not have full formal white-tie attire, but that is needed much less frequently than black-tie.

 

EBay can also work very well. Lots of people change size or for other reasons want to sell very lightly used clothes (or even new) at very good prices. All my shirts are either 100$ cotton or silk - bought most of them between $9 and $18 each including shipping. Three months of looking, got a genuine leather biker jacket for $45 in good condition.

 

For the immediate need, either rental or used since you are changing size.

 

People really do hear with their eyes as well as their ears.

 

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If you can find a suit (or similar) that matches the style of music, so much the better... I found a nice 60s style narrow-cut suit in a charity (goodwill) store that works well for a retro soul band I've gigged with a lot.

+1 and MOI. You are there to entertain. You don't have dress in the same business suit as the guests.

MainStage 3 | Axiom 61 2nd Gen | Pianoteq | B5 | XK3c | EV ZLX 12P

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Yeah, definitely take the advice of the Goodwill shoppers above - been doing that for 30 years (I work in a lab, so got tired of getting holes in my clothes back in Grad school - still shop there a lot).

 

Last week picked up an unused Izod dress shirt for $9 (still had the $59 dollar tags on it), and a looks-like-new Brooks brothers shirt for $12.

 

Plenty of great suits, etc. to be had at Goodwill - buy one, a nice shirt, and with the vast amount of money saved go to a Tailor to get fitted.

 

You'll look fab, and if you continue to lose weight, won't be out much money.

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I totally get the issue here, been there and done that many times. But after the touring show group thing the "look" has gone downhill except for the occasional society gig. That's the term btw for semi or formal. Society gigs. I always do a couple a year at the LA Country Club or a big private party at a mansion. Nothing like a tux to make you fit right in with the rest of the staff...Some house parties we're discreetly told to take our breaks in the kitchen.

 

I'm lucky in this regard because I'm 20 miles from Hollywood. There are used clothing stores up there that seem to exist only for musicians. You can buy lots of cool, still somewhat funky looking formal stuff up there pretty cheap.

 

I agree if this is probably a one time thing stay with black, black vest, white shirt and rock the socks. Absolutely nobody gives a crap about the shoes. Several guys in a band in tux's show up in totally bs black shoes, hardly patent leather and nobody cares. If you can wear a hipster hat without looking like a dork, do that too. CEB looks great in that hat, but me? I'm a dork with one, but I am an accountant now so what can I say?

 

Bob

Hammond SK1, Mojo 61, Kurzweil PC3, Korg Pa3x, Roland FA06, Band in a Box, Real Band, Studio One, too much stuff...
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Stokely, if you are worried about losing weight and wasting $$ on a suit, look at Goodwill or Salvation Army or other resale stores. When I was dropping a bunch of weight I got almost all my clothes from these places. I found nice sport coats, all kinds of pants, etc.

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