Have you ever watched a masterclass where the guest clinician takes a moment to talk about proper audition clothes? Or been at a YAP where they give you the run-down on what you should and shouldn’t wear for auditions?
They tell you the exact length your dress needs to be. The way your suit has to fit. No pants for women unless you’re singing a “pants” role. Etc.
Let me tell you now, this article isn’t going to be like that.
Hi, my name is Ivy Calvert and I’m the founder and stylist behind Calvert & Co, a personal styling company that helps people build simpler, more stylish wardrobes. Oh, and I’m also an opera singer.
When I work with clients we always start by defining 3 key areas, their lifestyle, body shape, and personal style. Here’s what you need to know – defining these 3 key areas will also help YOU expertly craft your audition outfits.
Tip #1: Craft your professional image/ branding based on who you are, not just what you sing.
I believe post-pandemic life as a singer is going to look very different than before. For starters, a lot of us (myself included) are being open about having dual careers. We’re embracing and celebrating what makes us different, special, and unique as artists. For you, it may be another artistic talent, an engaging backstory, a powerful "why". All of these things should be represented in your personal brand as an artist and your audition attire is a big part of that!
Tip #2: Understand your body shape to boost confidence and strategically dress for the audition room.
Just like our voices, our bodies are unique. Get to know your shape (and understand that it will probably change over time!) to decide if there are any areas you want to highlight in your audition clothes. A good overall trick is drawing attention to the face. When I walk into the audition room, I want people to perceive me as professional and put-together but most of all, I want them focused on what’s about to come out of my mouth. Wear shapes and fits that create a long line, drawing attention upward. Anything that pulls focus downward (trousers too short, crazy socks, excess cleavage, loud prints) is going to detract from your face. These things have a time and place (okay, maybe not trousers that are too short) but I don’t think they’re helpful in the audition room.
Tip #3: Find your “voice” when it comes to personal style and bring it into your audition outfits.
Strangely, a style all its own exists in the opera world that is neither related nor relevant to current trends. Think plain black suit with a white dress shirt and no tie, a stretchy black wrap dress, the tenor in the bow-tie, character shoes as real shoes, and an excessive use of scarves. Personal style should be, well, personal! I encourage you to break out of this stereotypical “opera singer” style if you’ve been stuck there.
Now, I’m not saying the only way to be stylish is to wear trendy clothes. HOWEVER, the way you dress should feel current and relevant to the modern-day world. All too often, I see singers who take the advice they receive at YAPs, pay to sings, masterclasses, and from their very own teachers and dress in a homogenous and old-fashioned way. Never forget that you’re a unique artist who is at least 30 years younger than the people giving you that wardrobe advice. Define your personal style in everyday life and then figure out how to translate that into a professional audition look. It will boost your confidence and allow you to truly show the panel what makes you special.
Have questions about defining these 3 key areas or audition outfits in general? I’d love to chat with you! You can reach out to me through Instagram or Facebook @calvertandco.styling.
Curious about my singing career? Follow me @ivycalvert.
Antony Feeny for Opera Magazine UK