Tuesday, October 25, 2011

CHOIR HOW-TO -- Costume -- Part Six: Spring Pastels to Basic Black

The Stairwell Carollers --  Pretty in Pink
In 2005, we scooped up ice cream colours for our spring concerts and I felt quite uplifted by our look. It suited the spring mood and was very simple. However, most members had to go out and search for tops and shirts in pastel colours since they did not have anything suitable already in their wardrobe. It proved to be a daunting task for some, myself included. Maybe pastels weren't in that year, but I remember going in and out of the stores at St. Laurent Shopping center -- getting more and more frustrated as there was nothing but common t-shirts in pastel.I finally ended up in the little old lady section at SE*RS, where I found my soon to be hated yellow top.


The pastels served us well for a few seasons until the Steering Committee decided they wanted the group to appear more "professional". The final judgement was that this look was cheerful, but a bit casual and an executive decision was made to look for a different option.

Sigh of relief:)

The Stairwell Carollers in All Black

Back in Black

The Big Decision was Artsy black. This choice gave us the classical musician look and reflected the status of the group. All Black has turned out to be the best and simplest costume by far. It was easy for me, as the ersatz costume lady, since the onus was on each individual to supply their own outfit. We do look pulled together and professional don't we?

We gave everyone some simple guidelines to put together thir own outfit (usually from their existing closet) The Men's outfits were actually more restrictive than the women's, since we had to put our foot down on no collars (which scream casual) and polo type shirts (golfing!).

In All Black at the Rideau Chapel in the National Gallery
True Black pieces are a must.  Greenish, red or brown-tone "blacks" won't cut it -- stage lights will show up the underlying colour in the material to discerning audience members.

collared shirt , long sleeves

Black dress shoes
Black socks or thick hose
No overt textures -- mainly in the front row.

No bare legs, elbows, shoulders or cleavage
No sparkly or glittery elements on the garment
No obvious see through elements

We left jewellery choices up to each person, but I always wear crystals since they sparkle nicely. Most keep it subtle gold or silver. If you are concerned, just instruct your group not to wear chunky jewellery that introduces another colour to the monochromatic outfit. 
The Stairwell Carollers Spring 2011 Group Photo in All Black

The request for less skin was not made for prudish reasons, rather, for the overall look. Against the black, skin glows under stage lights and in photos, so we all agreed on covering it. For instance, elbows look knobby below short black sleeves and ample cleavage really picks up the stage lights.

We don't want to pull the audiences focus away from the music:)

Well, dear readers, this brings me to the end of the CHOIR HOW-TO -- COSTUME series for the blog.

If you need help with costume decisions for your choir, I'm only a comment or email away and I'd love to help you.

The Choir Costume series links :)

Choir Costume Part 1 - what NOT to wear?
Choir Costume Part 2 - Gowns or Gownless Evening Straps?
Choir Costume Part 3 - Girls in Tails
Choir Costume Part 4 - Period Wear -- Medieval/Renaissance to Victorian Era
Choir Costume Part 5 - Cloaks are all the Vogue
Choir Costume Part 6 - Spring Pastels to Basic Black


  1. I managed to find a pastel shirt - I am not a pastel kind of girl - just before the switch to classic black. I'm grateful that we switched to black (but I also discovered that turquoise is a good colour on me... who knew?).
    Look carefully in the professional photos; one of us is wearing sneakers because she was ASSURED that the photos would be taken AFTER the warm-ups, not before.... (many of us keep our comfy shoes on as long as possible before switching to dress shoes)

  2. Oh, Di -- you are hilarious -- the shoes don;t show -- only you would notice:)


You can also email your questions to me - info (at) stairwellcarollers (dot) com.
Holly :)

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