How to Wear Denim to the Orchestra

How to Wear Denim to the Orchestra

I don’t know when it happened, but at some point between leaving my banking job and becoming a freelancer, I became a denim addict. (If you want proof, here’s a video of me failing my own “one week without wearing denim” challenge on youtube.)

As I slowly shed my corporate persona a few years ago, my pencil skirts and heels went with it. My current wardrobe needs are simple – I work from home a lot, with a few client meetings sprinkled throughout the week, and a few days a month I’m on a set doing wardrobe. I can wear denim to almost all of these events, and this philosophy started to seep into every aspect of how I dress.

I found myself turning up at fashion media events wearing denim, and discovered the inimitable style of Emmanuelle Alt who famously shows up to runway shows wearing her “uniform” of skinny jeans, an impeccably tailored blazer and killer classic shoes.

So now I’m a believer.

I wear denim wherever and whenever is socially acceptable. And while a big part of me always wishes that I lived in an era where decorum and etiquette take priority (hi, Downton Abbey), I can’t seem to shake my denim habit.

I’ll wear denim anywhere – including the orchestra.


Yes. One of the most high brow events a performing arts centre offers – and Canada’s esteemed National Arts Centre  (NAC) will let me enjoy Beethoven’s third symphony, listen to an engaging talk with Alexander Shelley (the orchestra’s maestro), and sip cocktails while listening to a classically-inspired DJ on their newly finished terrace – ALL while wearing denim.

Perhaps this is the beauty of their FOCUS Festival – a 10 day deep dive into a singular composer who changed classical music forever: Beethoven. Through exhibits, podcasts, lectures and concerts, the NAC Orchestra treats us from September 13th – 22nd with all things Beethoven. Many events are free (yes, you read that correctly), and tickets for others start at $29.

With the FOCUS FESTIVAL kicking off the 2018 – 2019 orchestra season, the NAC is making classical music de rigueur and totally accessible.

Just like denim.

If you’re still a little denim shy, I get it. I can’t be the only one who hears their mother’s voice scolding you for wearing jeans to such a cultured and cool soiree.

It’s OK.

There’s a way to satisfy your inner traditionalist and still feel comfortable the entire evening.

  • For starters – wear denim that is not distressed. No holes, patches, or overzealous hardware. This is still the orchestra, people.
  • A refined silhouette will feel more put together – whether high waisted, wide and cropped, or cigarette pant skinny, leave the boyfriend slouch for a more casual affair. Trust me, your ego will thank you on this one.
  • Don your fanciest footwear. Shoes have the capacity to bring a look from blah to wow. Your most chic shoes will elevate your outfit, yielding a refined look that still says stylish nonchalence.
  • Texture is another great way to elevate your look. Choosing interesting fabrics adds richness and depth. Think silk, velvet, leather, or something like my Canadian-made stretch crochet top by designer Nadya Toto.
  • Accessories are key. Still not feeling up to snuff? Add a sparkling cocktail ring or attention-grabbing earrings (mine are from Canadian-made Knots and Pipes). This is the arts remember, eccentricity and imagination is always welcome.

The FOCUS Festival kicks off with its opening night party: Beers, Beats and Beethoven – a post work soiree that features cocktails, nibbles and a DJ that will blend Beethoven’s best and contemporary electric beats. The best part? It’s free to attend, as is the Musically Speaking talk with maestro Alexander Shelley.

Tickets are available online or at the box office for all of the free and ticketed events of the FOCUS Festival from September 13th to the 22nd. I’m going to try and get to as many as I can despite September’s ridiculous schedule.

Can’t wait to see you there! I’ll be the one wearing denim 😉

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