This week on our Facebook page we asked the question to all of you that participate in simply sitting in the audience and enjoying gospel music. The question was: Does how a group or soloist dress determine how they are received? The answer to our question from you was interesting. 100% it seems that no one is interested in seeing anyone present their message in a suit anymore. However, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. A good many of you stated that you wanted them to be casual but comfortable. Some of you went a little further to describe casual as not shorts but a nice pair of slacks or even jeans and a nice shirt. A few people who are members of actual groups said that the possibility of over dressing is not a good thing in their opinion.
Does what you wear in front of people matter? As a matter of fact – it does. If you remember a few podcasts back we talked about your presence on stage as being ministry oriented or entertainment and how we did our best to tackle that? Well, as it turns out – how you dress communicates your message just like singing the right song or how you present the message you are trying to present.
In fact, what you wear can actually make the difference in how you are received by an audience. Over the years a lot of smart individuals studied this and found that your audience subconsciously becomes attentive or is not fully attentive merely based on what is in front of them at the moment. It’s not only the clothes you are wearing – but the colors AND how those colors are contrasting with the lights and the background. When asked about it people tend to say they don’t care, but in the moment what they do isn’t being registered the same way as when they are asked about it.
Here is an exercise. When you are getting ready to go to an important meeting do you pick a wardrobe that is comfortable or that makes you feel confident – or both? Do you think for a moment about the situation you are about to walk into? If you are going to be in front of an audience does that play a roll in how you pick your wardrobe?
It almost sounds silly when you say it out loud, but it’s the truth. We have all heard the saying; “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” We discussed this as well in our podcast about approaching your set list and the importance of a first song. Now, you have gone out of your way to study your sound system, learn your music, create a set-list that speaks the message you are trying to convey, and now you want to tell me that what you are about to wear in front of your audience doesn’t matter? It all matters. BUT, it does NOT have to be complicated.
Why do quartets wear suits? I bet no one has every really thought about why? Think about it for a second. Quartets became popular during a time when going to church meant you wore your absolute best and then some. People already dressed a certain way during the week, but on Sunday’s they did better than that out of respect. Therefore, when quartets came along it was only natural to look your very best for church since that was the type of music they were doing. They usually wore the same type of suit, same tie, and same shoes. The look of uniformity was attention getting to say the least. They were presenting themselves as 4 people doing 1 specific thing and therefore the uniformity in what they wore made that statement. This isn’t just the norm in gospel music but in other forms of music like classical and jazz. The bottom line is that what you wear in front of your audience matters – more than you think.
Now, let’s talk a little about how we should approach this. A lot of people said on the Facebook question that if you are doing a benefit or maybe an outdoor event that you should relax it bit and not dress up too much. While we want to agree with that – AND the venue is important – what you walk on stage to sing in still impacts the message you are trying to convey. You can still dress the part, be comfortable AND not be flashy at the same time. It takes a little bit of thought and that’s the most important thing about what you are wearing says. It most importantly says that you care!
When you walk on stage to sing or present your music what you are wearing tells the audience whether you cared enough about them to be presentable. Or did you choose to wear what you did to be flashy or did you care enough at all and just wanted to be comfortable. Now – I bet we have your attention.
The type of music you are performing, the types of songs you are singing, and the message you are conveying should match how you act on stage and what you are wearing.
A great rule of thumb for us has always been: If the Pastor is wearing a suit then we need to at least meet there. We might not all wear a tie, but we are going to dress ourselves to match the level the Pastor did. Why? Because that is what the audience is used to seeing. If a tie makes us feel uncomfortable then by all means don’t wear one. Here’s the kicker – if you were invited to sing there and you have never worn a suit in your life – then chances are they already know this. You see where this is going? Your presentation started before you walked into the building.
Find a look that suits you and whether that look is going to be suits, business casual or a presentable pair of jeans. You also have to think about your audience, the lighting, the stage background and the message you are conveying. We have witnessed a lot of people that are out there singing go from suits to jeans with an attitude that they don’t care anymore. Let us remind you – that your audience does. You shouldn’t shell shock them like that. If you have a plan to present yourself a certain way at live events then you slowly work them into it. Take for example someone like Gold City – they have traditionally worn suits to present their message. The few times I’ve seen them deviate from that norm their audience seemed to be more opinionated about what they were wearing than what they were singing. Brian Free and Assurance has been deviating away from suits on stage for so long now that no one cares anymore. If any sitting President walked on screen to do a televised meeting in anything but a suit no one would ever hear the end of it and the memes would go far into the next lifetime.
What you wear tells your audience that you cared. What you wear conveys the message your songs are tying to convey. What you wear should take the emphasis off of you and help the audience listen to the message in the music. What you wear should not distract anyone during your time in front of them. What you wear should not create a conflict with your audience. There have been times traveling with the quartet that we were invited to sing at churches. The person that was our contact at the church would make it completely clear that if we even thought of putting on ties that we’d be asked to leave. (in a joking but serious sort of way).
We have said all of that in hopes that you begin to take it seriously for your own ministry or message. Understand that whether you are singing in a large fancy venue – church or theater; a nursing home, benefit at the community center; or on a facebook live presentation – what you are wearing matters equally as much as how your sound, what you sing and how effective you have mastered your sound system. Remember that! Because IT ALL MATTERS!
If you would like to discuss this further – comment on our podcast – on this YouTube podcast or Facebook. DON’T forget to like and subscribe to our YouTube channel, our Facebook page and shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the next few weeks, we are looking for anyone that will video their performance for an upcoming podcast. We will present your video and during your performance talking about ways to improve or even just to brag on how well you do. We’ve had a few people on Facebook point us to their videos so if you want to take part in that – let us know!
Helping you further the message MATTERS TO US! Thanks for watching!