Men's Clothing for the Stage

Danielle Jennings
man on stage in black clothing

When your career calls for you to be on stage in front of large crowds, it's essential that you connect with your audience on every level. One of the easiest, yet sometimes forgotten, ways to achieve this is to wear clothing that successfully helps you convey your message. Choosing the right men's clothing for the stage helps you to always look the part, whether you are performing or speaking to an audience.

Clothing for Various Men's Stage Professions

Most professions don't require you to be onstage, however there are some that are amongst the most celebrated and envied careers around. For each profession requiring you to address large audiences on a regular basis, there is a select code of dress that should be followed to ensure that your clothing doesn't overpower, distract or play the background. It's been said that clothes make the man, and these professions are no exception:

Singer/Rapper

When you are in the business of entertaining massive crowds of fans all over the world and in arenas of varying sizes, it's important that your clothing can be seen just as clearly by those in the front row to those in the last. Singers and rappers have the luxury to be very flamboyant and experimental with their clothing for the stage, and practically anything goes. The costumes that they choose to wear aid them through different numbers and help to tell an overall story of their performance. Singers and rappers often set fashion trends, so their clothing should reflect that. Here are a few outfit options:

  • Relaxed: Wearing an ensemble as relaxed and classic as jeans and a tee should be taken to another level for singers/rappers. Opt for denim that is distressed, embellished of boldly colored so that when the stage lights hit it, it can be seen from far away. Pair with a tee that is either very fitted or slightly so, and in a breathable fabric to ensure that you don't get too overheated while performing. Finally, top things off with a garment that's full of drama like a leather jacket with lots of hardware. This can be removed early in the performance, but it has a superstar look that's appropriate for performing.
  • Sophisticated: The hip hop world has seen a drastic change in fashion sense over the past few years. Gone are the overly baggy clothes and focus on athletic-style wear for performances. These days a musicians' clothing can be very sophisticated. One of the best options for stage clothing for singers or rappers, then, is a suit. The suit of choice wouldn't be one that a businessman or a politician would wear, instead it should be one that has the air of a superstar. While the suit should be tailored to fit your body, you don't want a snug fit because of the constant moving around onstage. Ditch the traditional dress shoes in favor of sneakers or boots, and don't hesitate to combine a different jacket with your pants. A deep v-neck tee and sparkly jewelry that catches the light finishes off the look.

Stage Actor

historical stage costume

Often when you think of men's clothing for the stage, your mind may immediately drift to the talented stars of Broadway. Stage actors have a unique predicament with their clothing because most of the time it has to reflect a character and not their personal style. It's difficult to give specific outfit options, since they are based on character. However, in general, a male stage actor should seek out clothing that:

  • Reads all the way in the back of the auditorium without being so over-the-top that it distracts from the character.
  • Aids in telling the story of the performance, but does not overshadow the narrative.

Men should avoid stage clothing that is:

  • Too loud: Clothing that is too brightly colored or contains an overabundance of embellishments should be avoided unless it directly pertains to the character, otherwise it is so distracting that your audience will have a hard time focusing on your performance because they are blinded by your clothing.
  • Ill-fitting: When you're wearing clothes that are too big or too small, it can severely impair your performance because you are self-conscious in your movements. You don't want to spend your time onstage worried about if your clothing will fall down because it's too big or experiencing discomfort because it's too tight.

Comedian

Being in the business of making people laugh often affords you the opportunity to wear humorous clothing that would probably be panned if you were in another profession. Like a singer/rapper, a comedian needs clothing that expresses their personality. They also needs clothing for the stage that allows them to move around freely and won't cause them to sweat more than normal while performing. However, while they are in the business of being funny, their outfit shouldn't be an outright costume because it's a distraction. Some options are:

  • Casual: Jeans, khakis and cargo pants are all good choices for a comedian to wear onstage because they are casual and can be accessorized to fit their personality. Pair these pieces with t-shirts, polos and collared shirts for a polished look.
  • Dressy casual: When the arena or occasion calls for a bit more of a formal look, comedians can certainly outfit themselves accordingly. Wear a suit in an unconventional way by trading the the slacks for jeans, keep the jacket and wear a tee underneath and switch out the shoes for something more casual. Also, feel free to embrace color because it translates well, even at the back of the auditorium.

Politician

polished understated suit

Political figures already are tasked with the tough job of connecting and convincing the public to get on board with their initiatives and messages. However, there is no need to make that job even harder by wearing the wrong clothing. While not a traditional stage profession, politicians clothing should still be fashionable and overall well tailored. Since they don't have room to be that daring with their fashion choices, a politician's suits should be equally understated, patriotic, travel well and comfortable. Even though they may be expensive, their suits should not appear overly extravagant because they often address large crowds of the working class. Here are a few tips:

  • Muted colors: Keep suits, slacks and shirts in muted color palettes because you don't want vibrant colors to conflict or overshadow your message. If you do want to punch up your suit with a pop of color, reserve it for your tie or pocket square.
  • Tailored: If there is one thing that is crucial to the appearance of a politician, it's a well tailored suit. It should fit your physique expertly, with no gaps in fabrics, wrinkles or creases. Each piece should be properly fitted, including your shirt, for the best overall look.

Where to Buy

There are literally thousands of places to shop for men's clothing for the stage, and some may even be one-of-a-kind, custom made creations.

  • Tattoo Apparel: This shop, with its tagline of 'Rock Your Wardrobe' has many rock-inspired looks that could be appropriate for musicians or casual stage wear.
  • Perpetual Vogue: Unique rock-inspired casual and stage wear for men
  • Pelican Menswear specializes in a variety of stage-appriopriate looks for performing artists. Items range from simple to statement-making.
  • Gentlemen's Emporium: If you need historical clothing or want to make a statement in a vintage look, this shop is one to consider.
  • Fine Line Fashion: This shop specializes in custom-made stage wear and costumes.

There are also many retail outlets that have stylish clothing that could be appropriate for your needs. Consider:

  • Nordstrom: Great for suits and casual clothes, as well as accessories
  • Gap: Ideal for casual and dressy casual wear at affordable prices
  • Men's Warehouse: Discount chain that's great for suits in a wide range of sizes and styles
  • Macy's: This department store giant offers a wide selection of dressy and casual menswear.
  • Saks: Has a wide selection of high-end designer fashions, from suits to casual
  • Abercrombie & Fitch: Stylish and trendy casual wear

Dress the Part

Whether you want to entertain or engage your audience, wearing the right men's clothing for the stage is crucial for conveying your desired message to the audience. Dress the part by choosing the right fit, color, and style for each performance or booking.

Men's Clothing for the Stage