A Uniform That’s Not

The reason women don’t play football is because eleven of them would never wear the same outfit in public. ~Phyllis Diller, American actress and comedian

You know, Phyllis was onto something.

Can you imagine spending precious time shopping for something to wear, or money buying it, and then walking into a roomful of people wearing the exact same thing??

I can’t.

Despite the relative sameness of fashion styles, the scarcity of available color options, and the propensity of department stores to carry basically the same things, we all strive to be individuals.

Nobody wants to look like they haven’t bought anything new in a decade.

Nobody wants to show up in something so outrageous that friends and strangers will snicker, either.

We want to fit in. And stand out.


One exception might be a group of performing musicians.

Our symphonic band, comprised of community members and university musicians, is required to wear black head to toe for performances.

Doesn’t matter if black isn’t your color. Or you don’t own anything that’s all black.

If you’re performing, you’re expected to comply with the dress code.

This means black slacks, skirts, shirts, sweaters, ties, jackets, socks.

So we don’t detract from the music we’re playing.

And nobody stands out.

Most years, finding basic black isn’t hard at all.

Yet some always try to push the envelope.

To show up in spaghetti straps or those “cold-shoulder” tops. Or a short skirt with bare legs hanging out (instead of black hose). Or sporting some brightly-colored, flowery doo-dad in their hair.

I wonder if our director has a supply of black “costumes” for those last-minute rebels, or if he just shoos them away in disgust.

It’s not that hard, really.

Black is black.

You might think it boring to be dressed completely in black, but I can assure you of one thing: everybody looks so classy in head-to-toe black!

Symphonic Band flute section — minus our identifying heads — and not a single duplicate outfit to be seen!

15 thoughts on “A Uniform That’s Not

  1. I remember fighting the same battle for Cole’s Christmas performances in school. The dress code was a white shirt and black pants or skirt. Collar shirt. What a big darn deal for some parents. No kid was pickier about clothes than mine and we still managed. Because it’s about respect and an hour performance. I always longed for the school to enforce the performance dress code since I insisted Cole follow it. I handed down his white shirts/black pants (worn twice) to other families. But, you know…it’s not every parents hill but IT SHOULD BE. And black? Looks good on just about everyone. I am not big on rules but on this one, I completely agree with you. I’m sure the performance was outstanding. (did you wear the long skirt–kind of flowing?)

    • Thanks so much for backing me up here, Kb. These people are all “adults.” And it really isn’t that hard to find black stuff. One gal showed up in knee-high tan boots (she wasn’t in the front row and eventually changed to black, but still). Another guy showed up in blue shoes. Blue?? How is that black? Fortunately, it was COLD out, so nobody showed up in sleeveless or spaghetti straps!! You’re so good to donate Cole’s gently used performance clothing! Yes, our concert went smashingly well!

  2. “You might think it boring to be dressed completely in black, but I can assure you of one thing: everybody looks so classy in head-to-toe black!”

    You are absolutely right, Debbie, you all look so classy!

    I don’t know if you knew this about me but black is my favorite color to wear. I started wearing it for work because it was mandatory as an employee for Chanel cosmetics. The company supplied us with certain parts of our uniform such as, a black Chanel vest. We had to supply our own white shirts. They also supplied the gentlemen with an authentic Chanel tie, and the ladies with a Chanel scarf. The ties and scarves had color, but other than that we dressed completely in black.

    The cosmetic industry pretty much requires that all their employees wear black. The company I work for now supplies us with black dress shirts, black summer polo shirts, black sweaters for winter, and even black pants. However, I buy my own pants because I’m short and slim, so I need them to fit perfectly. If we go to work and are not in our proper black uniform, we are sent home for the day. They are very strict about that.

    Personally, I love wearing black because it doesn’t distract from the person whose wearing it.

    Black is classy and always appropriate.

    Have a FAB week, my friend! 🙂

    • I imagine there are some who’d say black is too harsh for most blondes, but like you, Ron, I like wearing black. It goes with everything!!

      Most department store cosmetics counter employees do seem to wear black as a rule, and they look put-together and professional that way. And they stand out among shoppers so we know who to ask for assistance. I’ll bet you looked spiffy in your Chanel “uniform”!

      Do employees get docked a day’s pay if they dare show up without being in all black? Gee, hitting ’em where it hurts would show everybody they’re serious about rules infringement, huh?

      Enjoy the rest of your week, and heads up for the winter system that’s headed your way! xx

  3. Today Coco Chanel’s little black dress isn’t as well known as when I was younger, but it was considered the height of elegance: and I still remember my first little black dress.

    Beyond that, every musical performance I’ve ever been in — from high school concerts to All-State Band to college performances (not many, but still!) it was expected that we would be in black. As a matter of fact, I vaguely remember a pattern for dresses for All-State. I know my mother made mine.

    Today? It’s still considered de rigueur among many chorales and orchestras. One of my favorites is the Angel City Chorale, and look at them: all black, with plenty of variety.

    • We had to have an all-black dress and an all-white dress for sorority rush when I was at college, Linda, and yes, the all-black was the height of elegance. Dress it up or dress it down; add some sparkly jewelry or a colorful scarf, and you were good to go!

      You went to All-State Band? Now I’m impressed! I didn’t go and always felt I’d missed something special. Thanks for the link — you’re right, they exhibit a lot of variety!

  4. When I worked in a doctor’s surgery all the receptionists were required to wear a uniform – a specific blouse chosen each year by the majority teamed with black skirt or trousers. It always amused and amazed me to see how many ways the younger girls especially found to jazz it up and make their own individual style out of it.

    • Good observation, FF. Yes, the young’uns are very creative. Some of our high school musicians, however, seemed to take to heart our director’s orders to wear head-to-toe black, and they looked better than many of the older (who should know better!) folks, ha!

  5. About 6 years ago our band ‘uniform’ was white shirt, black pants for women, black suit, white shirt for men, and we all wore maroon bow ties. I hated it. I felt fat and very much like a waitress. Then we went to a community band fesitval and our director noticed some bands all in black and she asked me and a couple others who were standing in the hall that afternoon if we thought we should change to all black and we just about hugged her. The men still wear their suits or tuxes with white shirts but the ladies are all in black. I think the guys would welcome the ability to wear a black shirt and black pants too, but that probably won’t happen.

    High school I can’t remember, but I think we wore our marching band uniform without the glittery overlay…so it would have been dark green wool pants and tux shaped jacket and probably a white shirt under that. I remember it was HOT especially in the spring and summer.

    I think you all looked very nice (from what I could see) for your concert!

    • Thanks, Dawn. I like wearing all-black, personally. It doesn’t detract from the music we’re playing and it covers every body shape. I think we play better when we’re not worrying over what we’re wearing, too.

      For our high school band concerts, we wore our WOOL uniforms (black) with white shirts and black bow-ties (minus the colored overlay). Talk about feeling — and looking — like penguins, ha!

  6. LoL, Debbie – wearing black on black (something this red head, who wears an abundance of purple, did last week) can hide those extra Thanksgiving pounds. Just ‘sayin, it’s a sharp look! Just like your flute section is lookin’ sharp! 🎶😎🎶

    • Thanks, Virginia. ‘Tis not something I’d normally do, but you’re right — it’s a sharp look! Way better than the goofy bow ties we had to wear back in high school!

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