What to wear?

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Postby Guest » 07/17/06 06:29 PM

I have a friend who insists on wearing a TUXEDO for any show he does. He has a very professional show and is an exquisite(sp) historian and performer. I asked him about other performers and he does not "approve" of Copperfields' attire, but says Lance Burton is classier. He has no comment on the "street look" of Blaine either.

How do you dress for your main stream of paying gigs?

Scott
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Postby Guest » 07/17/06 09:31 PM

It all depends on the venue and the crowd. I like to fit in and look about the same or slightly better than everyone else. If it's one of my restaurant gigs (BBQ joint) I'll wear black cargo pants and a nice short sleeve shirt. There's no point in dressing up in that venue - it would look odd. If it's a dinner banquet, I'll wear a sharp suit and tie. Personally, I've never worked a gig where I had to wear a tux.

So, general rule for me is... FIT.
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Postby Guest » 07/17/06 09:58 PM

It also depends on the weather. In the winter I am mostly in a suit and tie, but in summer I have a nice outdoors shorts and vest outfit for pic-nic's and the like, while indoors my dress shirt tends to become a golf style shirt. Still dressy but it breathes much better.

Hope it helps.

Gord
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Postby Guest » 07/18/06 02:17 PM

I work mostly country club gigs and corporate parties. If I'm working after six, I wear an evening suit - a tux. It is Oxxford, the same brand that many of the executives I work for will be wearing. It is a traditional tux...no spangles or sequins. Sometimes I'll wear a Versace vest...sometimes one from Barney's.

For an afternoon show, I'll wear an Oxxford Navy blazer with a Brioni tie. Of course, everything is perfectly clean and pressed. I look like I'm worth what they pay me.

David Copperfield is in a class by himself. He has the status of a rock star and wears clothes well. He makes his own style.

Lance is more traditional. Both he and David look good in what they choose to wear.

I've worked with younger performers who tried to emulate Copperfield's look. They looked like they slept in their clothes because they bought low end and failed to keep their clothes pressed.

For a good example of someone who looked like a million bucks on stage, see John Calvert.
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Postby NCMarsh » 07/18/06 02:54 PM

Most of my work this season is either comedy club or corporate. For corporate work, I like a suit that looks elegant while also standing out and feeling distinctive. Here\'s a shot of my favorite outfit, taken during a corporate event on a yacht while the guests were eating down below. My girlfriend is not normally at gigs with me -- I was shooting my stand-up show for a promotional video and could only afford one professional videographer, she was there to man a second camera.

For comedy club work, I like a suit without a tie, with the first few shirt buttons open, and with the shirt collar out over the lapel of the coat. For company picnics and other events in the florida summer sun, I go with neat dress shirt and slacks.

I had the oppurtunity to work Monday Night Magic in NY in March...Jamy Ian Swiss commented, in passing, that he was wearing $3,000 worth of clothing on stage that evening...my wardrobe isn't cheap, but it also isn't at that level. I'm currently saving up for a countryman headset/sennheiser transmitter mic. system and a virtual soundman for my stand-up show...but my next major investment will be to upgrade the wardrobe -- and I think it should be a similar priority for anyone else performing in public.

Best,

Nathan.
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Postby Guest » 07/21/06 06:27 PM

With regard to corporate work, one of the best recommendations in the classic book, Dress for Success is; look at the president of the company and try to dress exactly like him. In spite of the increase in magic on television, I continue to hear people in the corporate world talk about "cheesy magicians." If one wants to enjoy the lucrative engagements the corporate world has to offer, one must do everything possible to avoid this label. The way one dresses makes a strong first impression. As people who are actively seeking the attention of others when we perform, we must be even more aware of every impression we make. One final thought, in the corporate world, people wearing tuxes are usually waiting on people wearing business suits.
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Postby Guest » 07/22/06 12:16 AM

Originally posted by Mark Phillips:
One final thought, in the corporate world, people wearing tuxes are usually waiting on people wearing business suits.
Interesting about that...I was recently the entertainer at a small, private corportate/academic dinner honoring a current Nobel laureate. Most of the participants were dressed in tuxedos. Sadly, there were a few poor undergrads there who could only afford to wear shiny yellow bowties and doublebreasted blazers.

No one had any difficulty identifying who was a waiter and who wasn't. :D
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Postby Jeff Haas » 07/23/06 08:47 PM

Here's a question on this topic...

A lot of entertainment bookers feel that when they book a magician, you should LOOK like "a magician." In other words, some sort of vivid or flashy costume, preferably with a hat. I'm not saying you have to look like Silly Billy, but if you show up looking like a CEO, they'll be disappointed.

So if you "fit in" to the crowd, the person who books you wonders why you didn't dress up for the event. They don't see your role as looking like the people attending the party, they see your as bringing the entertainment! And that starts with looking like someone who does tricks.

How do you reconcile that attitude with the "Dress for Success" approach?
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Postby Guest » 07/23/06 09:40 PM

Jeff, in my experience, what to wear depends largely on the socioeconomic level of the people you are entertaining and the performing persona you are using.

What you wear should be appropriate to the venue and the audience, but not over the top as you want to be taken seriously, unless you're doing comedy magic or are playing a character. Then the wardrobe should fit the character. Think Mac King's country bumpkin outfit as a perfect example of a costume fitting the character Mac plays.

As my performing persona is an enlargement of my regular persona, I don't need to wear a costume, but I do wear a "social uniform" that is instantly recognized by the people I'm working for. It conveys a multitude of messages, all of them working to my favor. The wearing of the magician's "uniform," a tuxedo, also conveys a certain amount of respect towards the audience as opposed to wearing a t-shirt and a suit coat, trying to appear "stylish."

Remember, there is a huge difference in what someone like David Copperfield can wear and what the rest of us should wear. People are paying to go and see Copperfield while people are inviting us to come in and entertain them, usually as part of an event. Two different performing situations.

What I would wear were I working a Vegas review is a bit different than what I wear when I work club dates today: think Blackstone's tux with the shiny beads...but as I said, nearly everything I do is for a corporate client in a hotel or for a country club audience. The remainder of my work is in private homes.

Anything too over the top would be out of place for those audiences. They expect me to look competent and successful, not garish or clownish. Thus, the high-end tux for evening wear or the quality blazer and high-end tie for daytime shows. These people generally know high end clothing and wearing such a social uniform conveys my understanding of tacit social contracts.

Wearing such clothing also quickly and easily establishes a certain level of expectation when I walk out and start my show. Audiences still make their initial appraisals by appearance, so I wear the best quality wardrobe I can. It makes my work easier.
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Postby NCMarsh » 07/23/06 10:19 PM

A few thoughts:

I certainly agree with Mark Phillips -- who has much more experience than do I -- about looking as good as the most important people in the room. I will add, however, that much of the corporate work I have done -- including work in very exclusive venues -- has been for an audience in business casual. The most powerful person in the room is typically in a polo, neatly pressed slacks, and is well groomed.

My attitude about these events is that, while my audience is relaxing, I am a professional at work. Which means that I dress as they do when they are doing important work.

Second, as to Jeff's question, I don't think that dressing as well as the VIP is a matter of "blending in." Within the parameters of a fine business suit there are many ways to be distinctive -- through the use of colors and fabrics that tastefully grab attention.

Best,

N.
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Postby George Olson » 07/24/06 08:52 AM

I always thought a pink Prada Boa complemented...

GO
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Postby Guest » 07/27/06 04:40 AM

Check out my jackets 2006:

http://www.kjellstrom.info/media/mats_k ... d_2006.jpg

http://www.kjellstrom.info/media/mats_k ... m_2006.jpg

http://www.kjellstrom.info/media/mats_k ... r_2006.jpg


I prefer flashy and special looking cloths.
Most magicians I know use mostly black jackets.
Looks dull.

When I perform for Hells Angels I use a Kevlar Vest under my jackets...

See my jackets in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0Iflz8IjJw

Mats - www.kjellstrom.info
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Postby David Scollnik » 08/01/06 09:22 PM

Dear Kjellstrom, for no good reason, your post and pictures reminded me of this little ditty:

http://www.area51newmexico.com/simpsons ... _vest.html

:-)
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Postby Guest » 08/08/06 04:31 AM

It has always been my beleif that as a performer you should never be outdressed by your audience,large or small :p :p
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Postby Guest » 08/09/06 08:49 PM

Jeff McBride said it best; "Always dress like you're going somewhere better later.
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Postby Guest » 08/29/06 06:24 AM

The overwhelming number of male stars on the Emmy Award broadcast earlier this week did not wear tuxes, instead they wore black suits with traditional black or silver ties. What does that say about the status of the tux in American fashion and society?
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Postby Guest » 08/29/06 08:11 AM

Originally posted by Mark Phillips:
...black suits with traditional black or silver ties. What does that say about the status of the tux in American fashion and society?
Was the tuxedo ever part of American fashion and society at large? It was eschewed about the same time as lighting one's cigar with a hundred dollar bill. More recently it found its place in parody with the "tuxedo shirt".

The tux still works in "finer" social circles where the likes of James Bond attend formal black or white tie gatherings. And of course it will always be right for Batman's foe the Penguin.

Just where do you want to blend in? What impression do you want your performance character to offer as regards social circumstance?
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Postby Guest » 08/29/06 08:03 PM

Originally posted by Mark Phillips:
The overwhelming number of male stars on the Emmy Award broadcast earlier this week did not wear tuxes, instead they wore black suits with traditional black or silver ties. What does that say about the status of the tux in American fashion and society?
Actually, the "style" of the last few years has been a tux jacket and trousers with a tie, not the traditional bow tie. Sometimes a colored shirt. These are created by designers who have to do something "different" to call attention to their celebrity clients.

Cary Grant used to talk about clothes, writing several articles over the years on his philosophy. He always bought extremely high-quality, traditional designs because they rarely went out of style and were acceptable everywhere.

Fads come and go and are a waste of money. Witness the nonsense a few years ago with the Nehru jacket and its six months in the spotlight. Several high-end clothiers actually refunded money to their clients who bought Nehru jackets.
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Postby Guest » 08/29/06 08:07 PM

[/qb][/QUOTE] The tux still works in "finer" social circles where the likes of James Bond attend formal black or white tie gatherings.[/QB][/QUOTE]

I'm always happy to work in the "finer social circles," because they can afford to pay more. I wear a tux because it gives me credibility, shows respect for the audience, and it makes me look like I'm worth my fee.
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Postby Guest » 08/30/06 12:22 AM

I wear what the client wants me to wear within reason. If they specify black tie, I wear black tie. If they specify a suit, I have a nicely tailored suit.

If they want me to wear my Merlin outfit, I wear that.

I draw the line at woad. When you have as many wrinkles as I do, it takes forever to get that stuff off.
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Postby Guest » 08/30/06 05:48 AM

When I moved up here to Bloomington from East Tennessee (I had married all my cousins and had to start on other people's cousins) I began marketing furiously. I contacted many fundraising groups who did "black tie" affairs.

I learned that Hoosiers ogten interpret "black tie" as a Hawaiian shirt and khakhi shorts! I would show up dressed to the nines, and most of the audience, especially the younger adult members, were dressed like a Jimmy Buffet concert. Some of the older parties wore tuxes, but it wasn't common.

However, I still felt it was appropriate for me to be dressed in a tux, since I was the entertainer. Though am looking for a Hawaiian print dinner jacket...

John R
What de hell is a Hoosier anyway?
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Postby Guest » 08/30/06 07:37 AM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
Originally posted by Mark Phillips:
[b] ...black suits with traditional black or silver ties. What does that say about the status of the tux in American fashion and society?
Was the tuxedo ever part of American fashion and society at large? It was eschewed about the same time as lighting one's cigar with a hundred dollar bill. More recently it found its place in parody with the "tuxedo shirt".

The tux still works in "finer" social circles where the likes of James Bond attend formal black or white tie gatherings. And of course it will always be right for Batman's foe the Penguin.

Just where do you want to blend in? What impression do you want your performance character to offer as regards social circumstance? [/b]
First hoosier, here in NJ it's a term you use during sex During the act you cry out "Hoosier Daddy!?'
But I believe in Indiana and the midwest, it refers to an unsophisticated oerson. One if the common folk A man of the people so to speak
Now as to dress Since you're the performer, you set the style, not follow it So whatever you wear is appropriate It should fit your performing character And shouldf be of the highest quality
If you wear a business suit to perform in. Spend a couple of thousand dollars for the suit It will be a good investment. My dad , who was in what then was called the "cloak and suit business" Used to say only wealthy people can afford cheap clothing
I stopped wearing a dinner Jacket or Tuxedo when people started giving me their drink orders
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Postby Guest » 08/30/06 09:55 AM

I think it's a bit obnoxious to equate the quality of one's dress with the price tag. Celebrities regularly spend thousands of dollars on outfits on the red carpet and many still end up looking bad, making it onto many worst-dressed lists. Many fashion magazines have had articles on how people in hollywood just don't dress as well as they did in the past.

Quality is no longer equated with what it used to be: the material, the stiching, etc. Now in many cases it has more to do with the name. I've seen $800 dollar shirts in Gucci that I thought looked awful, and the price was not a result of the material but rather the extensive emblematic G's.
And, according to a friend who works for them, they sell like crazy. On top of that, except for a few stores scattered around the country, most of the salespeople don't have a clue about material. (For a great discussion of the death of quality see Quest For The Best by Stanley Marcus (of Neiman-Marcus fame))

Granted you're probably not going to get a great pair of shoes for $60, but at a certain point (for top name designers) you're paying more for the name than what you're wearing. Custom made pieces often offer the better value.

The most important factors in wearing any clothing are the fit and how comfortable you feel wearing it. Some designers make clothes that fit certain people better than others. It's key to find out which designers fit you best, unless you're having everything custom made from scratch. Suits can be altered, but they still look best if the general fit is right before the alteration. And each piece of clothing has aspects that are harder to alter than others. And don't be satified with just one alteration; the best fit often comes after several adjustments. Even if you're not wearing a suit, a $70 perfectly fitting pair of pants, looks a lot better than a $300 pair that fits decently.

If you're not comfortable with what you're wearing it'll show. A friend of mine deals with big clients (in a non-magic context) and doesn't own a suit. I've seen him go into business pitches along with people dressed in pretty expensive clothing, and have the clients tell him that they want to work with him and not the other people. Obviously, don't dress in dirty clothing, but a suit isn't for everyone.

The clothing should reflect you. Most actors will tell you it's a lot easier to stay in character when you're wearing the character's clothing. I don't really dress differently in or out of a business context. They're all variations of the same style.

If I were to stick to the quality = price equation I would wear the $400 porsche design shoes, which I use more often than not as everyday shoes, over the $225 cole haan's I usually use with a more dressier outfit. But I usually don't because the cole haans fit the look of most of the dressier outfits better.
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Postby Guest » 08/30/06 11:04 AM

$400 Porsche design shoes? If you can spare that money for shoes don't be wasting your time with Porsche, get on a plane to London and get some John Lobbs or some Church's. They're in Jermyn Street or Bond Street.

I really enjoyed your post, BTW.
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Postby Guest » 08/30/06 11:54 AM

I'll agree that the money could probably be better spent on other shoes (e.g., church's) I just happened to really like the design of the porsche shoes with respect to their versatility, and they molded well to my foot after a few wears. And the use of the porsche was more to make the point that the cole haan's at about half the price aren't of any less quality than the porsche's. (Incidentaly a lot of the cole haan dress shoes now have nike soles concealed inside, so if you spend a lot of time on your feet, I suggest checking them out).
Thanks for the comments.

Another issue I didn't touch on in the post is posture. Posture can dramatically effect the way clothes fit on a person's body. Contrary to some people's popular beliefs maintaing a good posture should not be a struggle. It is for most people and makes most people come across stiff because their muscles have been trained for years to hold their body in poor positions. For anyone in any performing field or anyone who does a lot of work on their feet, I'd recommend them getting Rolfed to help properly realign themselves (10 session program that will run about $1100). Also following up with Alexander work is a big benefit too. (I find it amazing that most magicians don't do voice warmups or body warmups before a performance).
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Postby Guest » 08/30/06 11:58 AM

Originally posted by Joe Pike:
$400 Porsche design shoes? If you can spare that money for shoes don't be wasting your time with Porsche, get on a plane to London and get some John Lobbs or some Church's. They're in Jermyn Street or Bond Street.
Mephisto-Match makes some very comfortable shoes about 400 a pair.
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Postby Guest » 08/30/06 12:30 PM

Mephisto does make some comfortable shoes. I personally just don't care for the design on them, especially with respect to their soles. But I know some people who love them.
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Postby Guest » 08/30/06 02:19 PM

One can study the Alexander Technique without Rolfing and learn better use, one aspect of which is improved posture. The Technique was one of the more valuable things I've ever learned.

One small correction to Aaron's post: most celebrities do not buy the clothes they wear to awards ceremonies. They are given the clothes by the designers - a trade-out for the free advertising the designer gets from the celebrity wearing their stuff. This goes for men and women.

The applies fo film as well. In one of the last James Bond films, Brioni delivered 30 suits ($5,000 each, retail). I understand that only 2 survived the filming.

The one thing loaned to celebs and collected immediately after those shows is jewelry. Millions of dollars worth of jewelry is loaned out on Oscar and Emmy night....redeemed after the show concludes.
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Postby Pete Biro » 08/30/06 04:11 PM

The past few years I have opted for a Brooks Bros. blazer, slacks and an Ascot tie.

When I worked the comedy clubs I wore dark levis, a blue Oxford shirt with open collar and a coat from a set of tails.
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Postby Guest » 08/31/06 07:14 AM

I like to work Nekkid. Did I ever mention that Bloomington Indiana is a hotspot of bigfoot sightings?

John R
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Postby Guest » 08/31/06 03:01 PM

Originally posted by Brown Hornet:
However, I still felt it was appropriate for me to be dressed in a tux, since I was the entertainer. Though am looking for a Hawaiian print dinner jacket...
Hi John,

No luck on the jackets, but I'm sure these accessories would be the hit of any formal Aloha to-do:
http://www.thetuxlady.com/hawear.html

Best,
Neil Tobin
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Postby Guest » 08/31/06 08:52 PM

Gary Oullet once said that we should buy a copy of GQ Magazine to see what is in style; then follow "suit", pun intended.

Tony Brent
Outta Control Magic Show
Orlando, Florida
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Postby Guest » 09/01/06 12:21 PM

Generally I use Tux or suit - at least one better than the best dressed expected audience.

My guess is that those who started receiving drink orders either did not look comfortable and in place in their tux -- or were acting in a more servile manner than expected.

I agree with David - upscale performance requires a standard not recognized in other venues. I hasten to add that in the USA dress standards have eroded in many places -- and finer clothes now come from Sears rather than Wal-Mart in middle America.

Dressing to character without being a walking costume party is indeed a challenge.
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