But They Matched at Home: Musician World Problems

Spotlights are wonderful things if you are an audience member. They are dreadful if you are a performer. They are hot. They blind you. And perhaps worse, they reveal that your black jacket and black slacks do not match. Or your black blouse and skirt. Awkward!

It’s a bit of a joke—OK more than a bit—among the goth and related communities that you need to make certain that your blacks all match. Anyone who has tried to pair up green and green, or green and a few other colors, know that not all shades play well together. Green seems to be infamous for that, although I have seen shades of red that clashed in unpleasant ways. But black should be black, and so what if one has a little more blue and the other is a tad bit greener? In a dark club, at night, no one will notice. Right? Glamor goths seem a bit more concerned about this than are others, but you can be unpleasantly surprised that some combinations collide.

For classical musicians, and others under spotlights or sunlight, clashing blacks become very evident. For several years, I noted that a certain gentleman in a local orchestra had a bluish-black tailcoat but greenish-black slacks. The stage lights made it obvious, and brought out the clashing secondary hues. Last year he got new slacks, and the problem went away. I suspect that the coat was made of wool, and the trousers of cotton or wool-blend, leading to the problem. Different materials plus different dyes causes different shades of the same dominant color.

When everyone else’s blacks match, you don’t want to stand out. For that reason, I am very careful to make certain that my black blouses and black skirts match before chorus concerts, or are close enough that no one notices any difference. All are cotton. The skirts are twill, the blouses are a plain weave, and both are slightly bluer than “pure black.” It works. For performances with the symphony, I have a dress. It is all cotton and all the same material, so I do not have to worry about the painfully bright stage lighting making me look odd.

Black and green seem the hardest to match, or to get to blend well. For years, my wardrobe was black, khaki, blue, and one pair of green-brown slacks. A friend teased me about being Mennonite, because my colors were so plain and my style so modest. But everything worked together, and as long as I didn’t wear a blue shirt with the green-brown pants. I had no problems. Other than matching my blacks. My plumage has grown a bit more colorful since then (white dresses for summer church, a few true purple or cool purple-rose turtlenecks), but 90% of it is interchangeable. Yes, I do get dressed in the dark, fairly often. I don’t like sartorial surprises.

However, last week, I got out my black “I’m faculty” long-sleeve, official issue tee shirt and tried matching it with black corduroy pants. Not happening. The shirt had too much green in it for the black pants. The combination was unattractive. However, very, very dark hunter green with a black undertone? Perfect!

Yep, goth/musician-world problems. The struggle is real! 😉

7 thoughts on “But They Matched at Home: Musician World Problems

  1. I feel like I’ve smoked something illegal, and taken a really good look at the underside of a starling’s wing.

    The clothes matching rule I learned when growing up was, “black and white go with anything, except themselves”.
    The one I learned later in life, was “black or white pants go poorly with children or fuzzy, drooling dogs”.

  2. That’s the missing part of dress rehearsal, in that you need to wear or bring outfits to ensure that the colors match. Stage lighting is bright, but it’s a cooler apparent temperature than daylight (more red and yellow). Colors don’t look the same, and some dye elements clash or get visible.

  3. Glad I don’t have to deal with that. Hawaiian shirts go with pretty much anything pants wise… I just have to remember to wear pants… 🙂

  4. Also fabric finish. I have one velveteen corderoy-look black shirt that I swear only the ribs get a brown tone under stage light, and the in between parts don’t.
    It’s a pain. It’s also comfy and strechy.

    I don’t own any other blacks with brown undertones. I haven’t even seen any when I’ve been shopping for blacks.

    I think this is why so many choirs go for identical dresses. At least in the orchestra we have space between our clashing blacks.

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