How to choose your choir's uniform

Most choirs try to achieve some sort of uniform look when performing. Choosing the type of uniform takes consideration. What type of choir is it? What type of music do you sing? What is the demographic of the choir? What is cost effective for members purchasing their own uniform?

Ask the choir

It may be worth canvassing opinion among the membership about what they will feel comfortable in. For example, in our Contemporary Choir we wear t-shirts and we originally offered only a standard unisex fit shirt as this was very cost effective. Many years on we still use have this basic design but found some singers didn't mind spending extra for an alternative style, so we now offer a range of fits. Our t-shirts work well when we do outside performances in the summer and less formal performances in local venues. However, if we do a concert which is more formal, we often prefer evening wear (with some guidance about colour and style).

Consider your performance style

You may want to consider the likely temperature in which you'll be performing. Are most of your performances indoors under warm stage lights? Or do you often perform outdoors possibly in cooler temperatures? Our t-shirts are black, which looks great but they can be prone to a few complaints by members on a very hot day and on the other end of the scale don't work for our outdoor Christmas Carol Concert - although nothing except a thick winter coat would!

In general, chamber choirs or symphony choruses are likely to want a more formal look. Our Chamber Choir wears black and the women all have a matching flower brooch, which helps to create an identity.

Why uniform works

Here's my five top reasons to consider creating a uniform for your choir:-

1.  If you're running your choir as a business, a uniform with your logo helps to advertise your brand to audiences and potential members. It may also make those potentially booking events remember and think of you if they need a choir.

2.  Wearing something special for an event helps us to get into the mindset that we are going to perform. Choir members are often nervous. Going through the ritual of getting ready can calm the nerves and boost confidence.

3.  It's great fun to feel that you belong to a group and what better way than to wear a uniform which identifies you with that group. In our Contemporary Choir we offer the option to have your name printed on the back of your t-shirt which has proved very popular and is a great way for everyone to learn each other's names.

4.  It looks tidy and helps the audience to take you seriously as performers. If you look good on stage, people will automatically form a positive opinion of you and expect a good performance.

5.  As a conductor, a uniform helps you identify your singers. At events where more than one choir is performing, a uniform that stands out sets your group apart from those around it.

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5 comments

Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi Valerie. Thanks for commenting. I think guys look great in black shirts. I'm pretty sure the men in my choir would resist wearing coloured bow-ties! I think you're going to have an uphill battle there.
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Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi Gabby. Thanks so much for commenting. I'm the wrong person to ask about choir robes as the last time I sang in a church choir was as a child (when we were glad of the robes - it was freezing!). Perhaps another reader can help us out.
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Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi Liliana. That's a great question and one I haven't spent much time thinking about. My choir wears black and the ladies wear a purple flower. They all seem to like it, but perhaps that's because they wear whatever style they like (within reason!). I think this question warrants proper discussion, so I'm going to include it in our podcast this week, which will go out on Thursday (14.00 GMT). I hope you'll listen in.
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Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi Cheryl. I would say that, as a starting point, ask your choir what they want to wear. You won't be able to please everyone, but there's not much point in trying to persuade them to change the uniform if none of the want to. Or perhaps you could suggest a change for a single performance and see how that goes. Christine's choir usually wears uniform t-shirts, but occasionally, they perform in evening dress.
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Victoria Hopkins Staff

Hi Christie. The flowers were handmade by members of my choir. I think if you search on YouTube, you can find tutorial videos.
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