What to Wear for a Piano Recital

What to Wear for a Piano Recital

Deciding what to wear for a piano recital can depend on several factors, including the musical piece you will be performing, the venue, and the expected level of formality. The song you are playing evokes different emotions, and your outfit should represent the mood of your song. For example, if you are playing “Ode to Joy” by Beethoven, a piece about celebration, you would consider wearing vibrant colors rather than somber black.

Haley Rossell, General Manager of Green Brooms Music Academy and The Inside Voice says, “I always tell our students to dress festively and to make sure they are comfortable, physically and mentally. If wearing a ball gown makes you feel confident and represents what you are performing, then wear that ball gown! If wearing a nice shirt and pants makes you feel amazing, then that is your performance outfit!”

While preparing for this exciting occasion, it is essential to prioritize perfecting your music. This guide will help you figure out what to wear for your next piano recital, making you feel your most confident self while removing any last-minute outfit-related stress.

Outfits for Women

Dress or Skirt

A dress or skirt is a timeless option for a piano recital for women. For optimal comfort during a performance, choosing a knee-length or midi-length dress or skirt is advisable, ensuring it stays in place without riding up while playing. While darker colors are suggested for a classic look, they are not mandatory.

Formal Dress (Suggested for Concert Halls, Conservatories): Formal dresses are floor length and come in many different styles such as mermaid, a-line, and ballgown. They have nice fabrics and either have full bodices or are fitted.

Ruffle Front Gown / Mermaid Chiffon Gown

Semi-formal Dress (Suggested for Auditoriums, Music Schools, Theaters): Semi-formal dresses include cocktail dresses and have a little more versatility than formal dresses. These outfits may include midi-length or floor-length dresses, as well as the option of dress pants paired with blouses.

Midi Length Dresses

Informal Dress (Suggested for Music Schools, Recital Rooms, Homes): Casual attire is characterized by its relaxed nature and commonly utilizes fabrics like denim, cotton, and jersey. These outfits are suitable for relaxed occasions and are available in a diverse range of patterns and colors.

Shift Dress / Floral Dress

Add a pop of color

Khatia Buniatishvil stands out as one of the world’s most prominent classical pianists, captivating the audience with her dazzling stage presence and unique outfits. Her attire, showcased in the video below, is a contemporary choice for a recital.

Khatia Buniatishvili – Schubert: Impromptu No. 3 in G-Flat Major, Op. 90, D. 899

Blouse/Blazer and Dress Pants

Choosing dress pants provides an excellent alternative for those seeking comfort and unrestricted movement while seated at the piano bench. Pairing them with a white blouse and black blazer completes the sophisticated and sleek look. You can also wear this in other colors such as navy, burgundy, gray, etc.


Choosing the proper footwear is important. Ballet flats and low heels are the best choices since you will use the pedals. Closed toe pumps and low heels with a strap around the ankle will give the best security.

Strap Pumps / Ballet Flats (Suggested for all venues)


A simple necklace is an appropriate piece of jewelry to wear during a piano recital. However, noisy jewelry should be avoided. You do not want to distract your audience from your performance. Avoid large rings and bangle bracelets. Choosing stud earrings over dangling ones might be advisable to avoid potential tangling in clothing or hair once you’re performing.

Outfits for Girls

Dress or Skirt (Suggested for all venues)

Children are allowed to have a bit more fun! Dressing in tulle, lace, and patterned fabrics is much more common. Dark colors are still perfectly acceptable. Choosing a knee-length or midi-length dress or skirt is the best choice.

Blouse and Pants (Suggested for all venues)

A blouse and dress pants is another great choice if your child does not want to wear a dress, offering a more comfortable look.


Ballet flats and mary janes are the best options for shoes. They are flat and have a strap to offer security.

Ballet Flats / Velvet Mary Janes (Suggested for all venues)

Outfits for Men and Boys

Tuxedo (Suggested for Concert Halls, Conservatories)

There are three distinct levels of formality for male attire for piano recitals, and the pinnacle of formality entails wearing a tuxedo. A refined black tuxedo with a white dress shirt and bow tie is required at prestigious venues.

Suit and Tie (Suggested for Auditoriums, Music Schools, Theaters)

A classic, well-tailored suit is less formal yet still exudes elegance. Wearing a suit jacket and dress pants in black or navy blue would add a level of class to the occasion. Add a tie to dress it up.

Dress Shirt and Pants (Suggested for Music Schools, Recital Rooms, Homes)

The third alternative would be the least formal: a dress shirt and dress pants. This allows for more creativity, especially suitable for less formal settings. Embrace colors like light blue, pale pink, navy, or even patterned shirts for a personal touch! If you want to make it a little less formal, and the weather allows it, wear a turtleneck.

Add a personal touch

17-year-old Russian pianist Ivan Bessonov stunned in a dress shirt and dress pants, and he added a white bow tie for a personal touch!

Johann Sebastian Bach – Piano Partita No. 2 In C Minor – Ivan Bessonov


If the recital is formal, the best choice is leather dress shoes, as they are sleek and classic. For a semi-formal or in-formal recital, a pair of oxfords or loafers provides a great amount of comfort to play for extended periods of time. You want to avoid shoes like flip flops and sandals.

Options for adults:

Penny Loafers / Oxfords (Suggested for all venues)

Options for kids:

Formal Sneakers (Suggested for Music Schools, Recital Rooms, Homes) / Oxfords (Suggested for all venues)


A belt and cufflinks are great accessories to spruce up your outfit. A watch might get in the way of your playing, but that is up to your personal preference.

Gender Neutral Outfits

All of the outfits above can be worn by anyone, no matter what gender! But here are a few outfits for those who want something more neutral. These outfits can be paired with any of the shoes and accessories mentioned above.

Vest Jacket (Suggested for Concert Halls, Conservatories)

A vest jacket is another excellent choice that anyone can wear. You can wear this in any color and pair it with a button-up shirt and a tie. This look can be worn with either dress pants or a skirt, whatever feels most comfortable. Choosing any pair of shoes from the options above will complete the look.

Sweater (Suggested for Auditoriums, Music Schools, Theaters)

A collared shirt paired with a sweater is the best option for those who want to feel comfortable yet look great. Once again, you can pair this with any bottoms you would like! Choosing a plain sweater with no writing or giant logos would be best to keep it clean and sharp.

Denim (Suggested for Music Schools, Recital Rooms, Homes)

Wearing denim on denim is a cool choice for those looking for an edgier recital option. It can be dressed up or down depending on the choice of shoes and if it will be tucked in with a belt.

Cost-Effective Resources


Thrift shopping is a fantastic way to find a recital outfit! Plenty of shops worldwide would have just what you are looking for for a fraction of the price. Explore your nearby thrift store or visit a Goodwill location to find what you need. Additionally, consider browsing through your local flea market on a Sunday. This could be an enjoyable thing to do with one of your piano classmates.

Rent an Outfit

There are plenty of options for renting outfits for special occasions. Retailers such as Men’s Wearhouse and The Black Tux rent suits, tuxedos, shoes, and accessories at reasonable prices. For those seeking dresses, skirts, blouses, shoes, and accessories, Rent the Runway and Nuuly are excellent choices. An online search for rental shops near you will help you find local shops offering this service.

Borrow From Friends and Family

Do you have a friend or family member with similar sizing as you? Ask them if you could borrow one of their outfits for this one-time occasion. Maybe paying a dry-cleaning fee will be more cost-effective than purchasing an entire outfit.


  • Finalize your outfit at least two weeks before your recital so you do not have to worry about it at the last minute.
  • Rehearse for at least two weeks with your shoes so they are comfortable and adequately broken in. It is important to make sure your foot will not slip off the pedal or even blister.
  • Do a dress rehearsal in your recital outfit to be sure you have a comfortable range of motion.You want to make sure you can reach all 88 keys and the pedals with ease!

Dressing in a way that honors the hard work you have put into preparing for your recital will only enhance your performance. Your attire is an outward expression of who you are. You are demonstrating your respect for the piece you are performing, your incredible audience, and yourself as a performer. The guide above is a helpful tool to assist you in finding your next piano recital outfit.

Author: Madison

Madison is a singer/songwriter born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Gender & Women’s Studies with a concentration in Media and Communications. As an independent recording artist, her music has received critical acclaim from the likes of EARMILK and Wonderland Magazine. Apart from her involvement with Ensemble Performing Arts, Madison performs shows across California.


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