Fashion Sense

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    Leigh Griffith

    Oh dear!

    I can just see someone describing me now – vertically challenged with
    generous horizontality- well, I guess it sounds more high-falutin’ than
    “short and fat”! ;-)



    Did I say topless??? Yes, strapless, and also tube-tops must never be worn for concerts. When? Maybe a wedding on a beach?


    A performance wardrobe that includes dress pants is important to me as a harpist. I do own some skirts/dresses, but they are overall more problematic. They have to have the right amount of gather, a precise length that doesn’t bother the pedals and stays long enough when seated, etc. Also, with harp hauling to some gigs dresses are impractical in the wind and physical effort of setting up. I feel much more relaxed, confident, and professional in slacks. I do tend to wear longer blouses with them and lower heeled shoes with good balance. I avoid clothing that adds extra concern of any kind.


    I have discovered that there is a certain cut of skirt that stays out of your pedals.


    Teachers should guage a student’s respect by the amount of time and effort put into learning rather than something as shallow and superficial as clothing. “Harp lessons” do not include lessons on how to not dress like a slut.


    As an artist in the public eye, what we wear when performing is hardly a superficial or shallow issue. We do our students a great dis-service if we do not guide them. I have seen many students’ self-respect grow when they discover how to “dress for success.”


    I think you hit the nail on the head, Virginia. Everyone has the right to make their own choices, but it is definitely not superficial or shallow.

    Elizabeth – I love the thought of walking through a department store to see someone ‘air-harping’! I guess some people may not quite understand, but that’s the kind of thing we do to play the harp…

    Jerusha Amado


    I agree with you.


    I see what you mean. I have just never had a student show up wearing anything like that. If there is too much exposed skin in contact with the harp, it is not very good for the harp’s finish. It is reasonable to ask them to put some cloth between themselves and the instrument. A couple of large square scarves could be kept nearby for such an instance and then they could be told to please make sure they wear the kind of clothes that protect your harp. The same thing applies to long nails. They damage the harp and the strings, not to mention they clack on the strings, so I keep a nailclipper close by in case a student comes with their nails too long. I was once on the Parent Advisory Council at my children’s school, and we discussed creating a dress code, since some of the kids were wearing eye-popping outfits to school. Yet, some parents on the PAC insisted hotly that their child had a right to wear whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. We ended up with a compromise, but at least we got some guidelines in there. My point is that you have to tread carefully when you wade into the parents’ territory.


    Vince, the crowd really goes berserk when I practise jumping into the mosh pit.


    I know a superb, dedicated harpist who wore ten-dollar stilletoes bought in Times Square, with plastic strapping over the toes with dice on them. Very Vegas. But she was performing at Avery Fisher Hall. Her bad taste had no reflection in her dedication. Fortunately, no one could see the toes from the audience, and she could lay the heels down flat along the floor to pedal, oddly enough. The effect was glamorous. And so was the performance. You could never assume the musical behavior in a lesson would determine how a student would dress. Not here. You haven’t a clue, even if they dress nicely for lessons, you don’t see what they wear elsewhere.

    I could almost bear a student wearing nail polish, but when it was still on the next week, chipped and scraped off, it was all I could do to keep from getting the nail polish remover out. Fortunately, it was all gone the next week.


    Stilletoes=stilleti? How do you pluralize stiletto? Sillytoes?


    What a great thread! Alice Chalifoux always taught us to dress well, to be understated yet elegant. The music should always be the focus – not your outfit and not your shoes. We all had to wear the 2 ” naturalizer black pumps when in school. However, as a graduate student I would go to consignment stores and buy designer clothes for performances that were tasteful and elegant. I never had a lot of money but would get compliments from AC on my classic style and thrifty purchases. Once I started performing at country clubs and hotel brunches I had to get more clothes for the gigs. “T.J. Maxx” and “Marshalls” were great stores for low budget outfits and I started building my wardrobe. I must confess I enjoyed beautiful clothes, shoes, and jewelry even on a tight budget. Now that I am older and have been up and down the scale my style has adjusted to a more practical elegance. I love to go “glam” when the event calls for it. I wear 3″ inch heels all the time when I perform because I am so short- legged and they help me reach the pedals with ease. I dress differently when I play in the pit orchestra than on stage with the orchestra. My favorite gig outfit is a black velvet pantsuit from Chicos. I prefer dresses when performing as a soloist, and try to match my clothes to the event.

    I find my students are already comfortable in their sense of style and yet I urge them to be practical and appropriate. I have taught students in lessons who were fresh from soccer practice or tennis and I could care less. As long as their hands were clean and their shoes were changed it was never discussed. It is important that they are comfortable at the harp and connected to themselves mentally, emotionally, and musically, regardless of their attire.

    The most important thing is to PLAY WELL but there is nothing wrong with looking great when you do it. I always appreciate people who take care of themselves and take care in their appearance. The audience absolutely appreciates it and takes it as a compliment when you care to look your best.

    Peter Hoogenboom

    Brilliant post!
    I would say, dress something you are feeling confident in. When you’re confident about yourself, your play, and your looks, it shows in both your music and in your impression.

    Then again… Wearing something you are feeling confident in, but is absurdly shocking your public, might not doe your confidence any good…

    J P

    I don’t mean to bring up an old post but I couldn’t help, somebody slap me quick curly wurly!

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