What To Wear to a Fine Arts Event

What To Wear to a Fine Arts Event

By: Brit McGinnis

If you’re a younger person (17- to 29ish years old), it’s hard to know how to dress for fine arts events. It’s annoying to have to wear a suit or gown to a formal event, but it’s no less awkward (and a lot more rude) to wear Uggs and shredded jeans.

I’m sick of people wearing shorts to gallery openings. I can only give the evil eye for so long. So ladies and gentlemen, here’s what you should be wearing to those events:

Gallery exhibit opening: Don’t worry about distracting people from the art. If they’re distracted by your outfit, the curator wasn’t doing their job! But don’t be afraid of bold patterns and form-fitting pieces. Just make sure that your top and bottom halves balance each other out.

gallery opening fashion

Avant-garde theatre performance: Anything can happen at these things — you could walk around, people can be thrown about, you have no idea. So skirts are definitely out of the question (unless you wear some awesome bike shorts underneath), and you’ll probably want to have a light jacket on hand. Just in case.

avant garde fashion

Ballet performance: If there were any art event to wear high heels, this would be it. You’ll be sitting down for a long time, and will clap worshipfully at people flexing their calves in crazy ways. But do us all a favor: Dress up in some way. Even if you wear jeans, wear a fancy top with them. Please.

ballet fashion

“Fancy Pants” Play: This means something you’re seeing in a fancy, non-high-school theater. Feel free to dress up as much as you’d like, but make sure your shoes are easy to walk in. Why? Because the higher up your seat is, the better it is.

fancy pants play

 Fashion show: Wear whatever labels or names you like! But the rule of thumb here is to keep patterns simple. You are not the work of art here — the clothes are. Save the stripes and glitter for the afterparty!

fashion show

 Film festival: A basic, form-fitting blazer is your best friend at a film festival. Wear it over a dress, over a fancy camisole, even over a basic t-shirt if you’re feeling particularly hipster-ish. And if you can find one is a matte-but-durable fabric, you have scored.

film festival fashion

Indie movie premiere: The only diehard accessories for an indie movie premiere are a solid purse and really cute boots. You’ll need to be able to put your feet up on seats, as well as protect your stuff from sticky floors and impolite theatergoers.

indie movie fashion


Opera performance: Be a princess (or prince!). Seriously, there will be so many older ladies there rocking it with the pimp-like golden necklaces and multicolored cashmere scarves. They don’t give a damn, because they’re going to be pretty tonight. Learn from the pros, yo. 

opera fashion


Again, these are only guidelines. Fine arts performances can be tricky to dress for, because while you don’t want to be stuffy, you want the ushers to show you your actual seat.

About the Author: Brit McGinnis’ nerdiness emerged very young, mostly centering around The Princess Bride and The Lord of the Rings (her elf name was Sorcha). It re-manifested in many other forms, but currently she is obsessed with Firefly and beating the Elite Four on Pokemon Crystal. This nerdette writes. A lot. She became famous in her college town for writing the only negative review of a local play (prompting a call of protest from the director). Brit has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Oregon. In her spare time, she writes a weekly erotica e-book series titled TIDBITS. Brit also has a day job as a social media consultant, where she shows people how to use Facebook correctly. Check out her blog Happily Cynical, find her on Facebook, or ogle her pretty modeling photos!