Should You Dress Uniformly for Competition?

Measure for Measure

In Measure for Measure, A Cappella Blog contributor takes a look at both sides of a controversial issue in collegiate a cappella. Please note that the views expressed by columnists do not necessarily represent those of The ACB as an organization, nor do they necessarily represent the view of individual columnists. The purpose of this piece is to explore issues and further civil, intellectual debate.

In this edition of Measure for Measure we take a look at the statement:

A cappella groups should dress uniformly for competition.

True: One of the best things an a cappella group can do in the competition setting is visually demonstrate a united front. That means synching up your choreography perfectly. That means coordinating how you enter and exit the stage. And that absolutely means dressing alike.

Dressing uniformly shows the audience and judges that you put thought into how you would present yourselves, rather than just throwing on any old attire the day of the show. Furthermore, the right look communicates your group’s identity—classy tuxedos and evening gowns; identifical t-shirt and jean combinations the sell your group as both fun and on the same page. Groups that dress uniformly look like units, and thus look like they are serious competitors.

False: In this day and age, stage performance is largely about making stars, which means that certain key group members, including your soloists and vocal percussionist(s) should stand out. When everyone dresses exactly the same, it creates a homogenous mass of people and its more difficult for the audience to recognize, much less identify with any individual.

No, you should take the stage in mismatched street clothes—you should put your thought into what your group’s attire is communicating about your group identity or your set. But groups that find individuality within a uniform look (e.g., matching colors without matching every article of clothing) let individuals shine while still illustrating that your group is united.