Tag Archives: what to wear to an art show

What do I wear to an art exhibition?

I’m blogging about this question because I just searched for it and I know others will too. Art galleries are generally full of pretentious people trying to look like they know something about art. Then there are curators who are either a) a business trying to make money or b) enjoy lively interaction and being closely involved in the art world (mostly both). Then there are artists, who are

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often insecure, try too hard, or have huge egos. What do you wear to ‘blend in’? Here are a few clues:

1) Don’t go overboard. Yes, it is easy to identify the artist as “artist” when they wear a strange or hideous combination of fabrics. But you don’t want to be strange; you want to be approachable so people can feel comfortable talking with you.

2) Not too casual. A lot of artists can get away with jeans and a shirt. They are using their title and jeans to show off that nonchalant stereotype of the artist who doesn’t care.

3) Check with the curator or gallery owner. There’s a good chance they are going to look sharp – really sharp. Don’t be outdone by them.

What to wear to an art exhibition? Dress nice. Not an obviously expensive power suit and sparkling diamond shoes; but a nice suit or business suit is fine. Women can wear a nice dress with good shoes or black pants.

However: If you really hate suits, wearing something you feel comfortable in, which looks pretty chic and stylish, is fine – the most important thing really is your personality and interaction with potential buyers, so you want to wear something that makes you feel good. Yes it is OK to buy a new outfit for an opening. Buy something that expresses your unique style and kind of matches your paintings in some way.

Make sure you get a 2nd opinion. Visual artist’s sense of fashion style is usually a little ‘off’. Get your friends of family to help you pick something out that isn’t too wild.

Final thoughts: I have a huge exhibit next week; most people will probably wear suits. But then I know if I’m in a suit, I will be jealous of those few artists who went with dressy casual, with very hip clothes that make them look like awesome non-conformists. Solution: I’ll probably bring several options, start with nice casual and if I feel underdressed, change into a suit.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: When in doubt… wear a nice suit, tie optional. Everybody looks good in a suit and nobody can critique your tastes or judgment. Women, wear something black and stylish, with maybe a few highlight colors.