In a recent video DJ gig log, I brought up the question of wardrobe for DJs. How important to you is your wardrobe and the way you look on a gig? If the answer is anything below “extremely important”, take another look in the mirror.
Everyone knows you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. We know that, in general, our appearance is our very first calling card. But as DJs concerned with being great entertainers, MCs and hosts for our clients, our wardrobe and appearance can also be a vital part of the overall entertainment experience. Like it or not, we are a physical part of the layout and look of the room. In addition to having expectations of a great entertainment experience, our clients expect us to look good as well. Of all the gig logs and photos of DJ rigs posted on line, almost all of them leave out the most important part of the set-up…the DJ. What did they look like? What were they wearing? Most DJs are technical wiz kids, capable of everything from mixing music to making an intelligent light rig from a toaster. But ask some to leave the house with matching shoes and your liable to get a stare as blank as an unwrapped CD. So here are a few things to add to your list of DJ stuff to think about as your packing up for your next gig:
What’s appropriate for this gig?
Not every gig is a formal occasion that automatically requires a tux or an evening gown. Even if the gig is a wedding reception, don’t assume it’s a formal one. Remember that it’s important to keep the focus on the guests and the bride and groom, not to draw the spotlight yourself. If everyone is in business casual attire or less and you’re in a formal tux, you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb. Remember the rule about assuming things and always ask the client what they would prefer you wear.
Another good question to ask clients is what colors they have planned for other elements of the event. It may be possible to coordinate the colors you wear with those elements. I’m not talking about a powder blue tux from the 70’s to match the bride’s eyes or anything ridiculous like that. But if the gig is a wedding, it may be possible for you to compliment the bridal party colors with a splash of a similar color in your tie or shirt. Again the goal is not to draw focus to you, so things have to remain tasteful.
Is your wardrobe up to date or are you still using the tux you used for your prom? If you can still fit in it, good for you (I seem to expand every year!). Size not withstanding, that old tux may appear dated and create a fashion faux pas best avoided. It seems contemporary DJs are constantly fighting cheesy stereotypes of old fashioned DJs. A big weapon in that battle is our wardrobe. Research modern wedding fashion and explore simple differences in wardrobe that can make you look more hip, sharp and up to date. Compare: Plain, white shirt with no jacket, but a bow tie and vest that make you look like a reject from a barbershop quartet versus a formal jacket, black dress shirt and a long tie. Of course, female DJs should explore similar comparisons. It doesn’t make much sense to constantly update your music library with the latest dance hits but look like Grandpa DJ playing them. Like it or not wardrobe has to be a part of our bottom line DJ expense budget.
The slickest suit in the world won’t help you at all if you look and smell like a neanderthal. We always want to seem approachable and attractive (which is important for referrals and future bookings) to guests. But nothing will turn off guests more than dragon breath and wild hair coming out of orifices you didn’t even know you had. Get a haircut, shave, wear make-up, make sure your clothes are ironed, etc. It’s also a good idea to keep basic toiletries like deodorant and breath mints in your DJ kit.
I don’t sit down during any gig I’m on. Any DJ that also stands the whole time will agree that the importance of comfortable shoes can’t be overstated. Being on your feet for 5 hours or more, not even including set-up can wreak havoc on your feet, legs and back. But that doesn’t mean it’s OK to wear your most comfy pair of sneakers either. Remember, you shouldn’t stay hidden behind your draped DJ table all night, so you can’t hide your house slippers under a table skirt. You should be spending some time on the dance floor as well or mingling with guests, etc. This means guests will see you from head to toe so it’s important to find shoes that support you comfortably and also look appropriate.
You don’t have to look like an Olympic athlete to be a succesful DJ. But some gigs certainly feel like a marathon so you shouldn’t look and feel like a tired, pot-bellied couch potato either. I’m overweight myself and constantly trying to win the battle of the bulge. But I do try to watch what I eat and get to the gym regularly. Working out a few times a week can greatly improve your energy and your appearance. Also try to get as much rest as possible before a gig. Eat foods that will boost energy, not sap it and drink plenty of fluids. No one wants to see a DJ with bags under her eyes looking like she would rather be asleep rather than at this gig. Also keep in mind that when picking wardrobe for gigs, wear things that compliment your frame and body type and look flattering on you. Ill-fitting shirts and tops that accentuate a bit of a muffin top or beer belly won’t do you any favors in terms of booking more gigs.
None of this means that DJs should be supermodels. But you should work to make your look fashionable, current and attractive. My mother always used to stress the importance of looking good on the path to success and I have seen her proven right so many times – sometimes in myself, often in others. How we look personally is as important, if not more so, than how our light rig or facade looks. Pay as much attention to appearance as gear and when you look in the mirror you’ll not only see a good looking DJ, but also a good looking DJ with more gigs.
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