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Concert Dress

I teach at a small christian high school in a rural area.  My question is, we can't afford robes, but want to have a professional look to the choirs at our concerts.  In the past we have just asked them to wear black pants and white tops, but lately we have been getting quite the variations on the white tops and some are pushing not being appropriate (girls).  Any suggestions or options that other schools use?
on July 14, 2011 1:30pm
Jon:  Just 2 thoughts.  Can you afford to purchase the tops and thus have them matched?
Or, regarding the inappropriate tops, can you involve your moms in making the decisions?
All the best,
on July 14, 2011 8:57pm
Instead of simply saying "black and white", could you specify the style more?  Such as, black, chino style pants, not jeans, leggings, or skinny legs, and a white, long sleeved, button down, collar shirt?  That leaves a lot less room for interpretation (though unfortunately there will still be a few who find a way).  And from experience, I definitely recommend involving parents, and perhaps even a student representative, on a uniform selection committee, if you want to go that route.  Just make sure that you have final say in any decisions.
on July 15, 2011 8:30am
I have the Black/White theme for one of my younger groups that performs less frequently. Here is what I tell them:
  • Black slacks or skirts (at or below knee), if in skirt must wear black tights
  • White tops, NO color (not ivory, no ecru), no spaghetti straps, no skin showing at waist, no cleavage 
  • Black shoes, no sandals or flip flops
  • Hair pulled back and off face. No hair in eyes or in front of shoulders.
  • Blacks slacks
  • White shirt, no color
  • Black shoes and socks, NO athletic shoes, of any kind, ever.
  • Hair combed neatly and off face and eyes.
on July 16, 2011 1:08pm
Hi Jon,
I taught at a small Jewish day school. I did some fund raising and purchased choir uniform shirts (white collared polos with the school insignia on the left chest - $15-$18 a piece). The SCHOOL owned the shirts. At the start of the year, every choir member paid a $5 shirt maintenance fee and was assigned an appropriate shirt (the shirts were numbered and were in a variety of sizes). the instructions were to wear long dark bottoms (black or navy, slacks or skirts)
I kept the shirts, handed them out before performances and collected them afterwards. I had them cleaned as necessary (hence the maintenance fee). In this way 1) everyone always matched (no dealing with white shirts washed with the colored laundry), 2) everyone looked neat, because they were wearing the right size (no buying bigger to last more than one season), 3) no one had to keep spending money buying a new shirt every year.
I was always able to get a parent volunteer to deal with the distribution and collection of shirts (and checking off numbers - which I had on the collar tags) and in the 7 years I was there never had any complaints nor had to replace a shirt.
This might not work with a really large program unless you had someone to take care of it. But, isn't this similar to what you would do re robes? 
on July 19, 2011 5:22pm
all black, classey and easy
on August 20, 2011 8:09am
I teach at a relatively small, Lutheran high school (185) with a choir of 50.  Over the past several years, we have purchased fabric and one of the moms made A-line skirts for the girls out of a washable polyester satin.  The cost is less than $25 per skirt, and she donated her time and skill making them.  Each year the students pay a $20 uniform fee so they can be washed, and so new fabric can be purchased and new skirts made as needed.  The skirts are handed out prior to the first performance with washing and care instructions, and returned immediately after graduation.  It is the students' responsibility to care for them during the year.  If they are returned in unusable condition (or not returned) they must pay an additional $30 to replace the skirt.  (They don't know that the cost is less than $25 - they think it is $50.) 
We then order inexpensive shirts through a sportswear catalog.  They are usually 3/4 to long sleeved cotton/polyester knit shirts and cost approximately $8-$10 each.  They wear these with a black cami underneath to take care of any cleavage issues.  (Along with black nylons and black dress shoes)
The boys need black dress pants, black socks and black dress shoes, as well as a long-sleeved black dress shirt.  If they are in choir for more than one year, they only have the expense once, unless they need a new size or they get worn out.  Once we have chosen the girls' shirts, one of the boys' moms goes out to purchase a tie for each boy.  We usually find matching ties that pick up the color of the girls' shirts.  The boys then pay the mom for the ties.
This "concert dress" is required for all performances, and looks very professional.  We've gotten many compliments on how nice the attire looks, and while the girls "hate" the skirts, they look far better than a vast array of different styles of pants and skirts.
Since there is a cost involved, the other possibility would be to find a skirt or pair of pants in a catalog and require that they all purchase the same ones - ditto for shirts/tops.  That would be the best way to make sure they were acceptable styles and uniform looking.
I hope this helps - best of luck!
on August 21, 2011 7:04am
I use black and white, and specify no t-shirts, too-short skirts, jeans, etc. for my middle school group.  However, I will often still get a few that don't comply (for many it's an issue of cost).  So, I keep on hand at school several white blouses and button-down shirts, and a couple of black skirts and pants, and black dress shoes.  If they show up in something inappropriate, they have to wear the "communal clothing."
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