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My wife and I, both 70+, will shortly (9 July) attend a classical music concert (Ravel, Mozart, Mayer) in Wernigerode, Germany and would like to know what clothing is appropriate. Here in the Netherlands jeans and sweater/T-shirt is quite normal, but I don't know what Germans do.

This question (Standards of dress for a classical concert in the Czech Republic) suggests suit and tie for the Czech Republic in March 2019; a suit seems rather warm for July, but "when in Rome..." may apply.

I hardly expect that we would be refused entry, but I would feel uncomfortable if I were the only one without a collar and tie (and equally if I were the only one with). This will be part of a walking/sightseeing holiday, so we would not normally pack formal clothing, but we are travelling by car so we can take extra clothing if necessary.

What would typical Germans wear for a classical concert?

Edit 13 June: I also mailed the concert hall; here is their reply (Google-Translated):

Since Wernigerode is a holiday resort on the Harz and we also welcome many spontaneous tourists to our concerts, there is no clear dress code. Unusual with us is rather the classic evening wear — therefore you can do little wrong with casual chic, i.e. shirt or even shirt and jeans are just as fine as a suit.

Update 14 July: I wore cotton trousers and an open-necked cotton shirt and my wife a summer dress; we felt quite at home. I saw a few men wearing suit and/or tie but most dressed as I did, most women wore a summer dress or slacks and blouse. A few people (men and women) did wear jeans and didn't seem to get disapproving looks.

General advice thus: casual chic/smart casual.

And yes, it was a good concert!

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    The internet says, the concert will be shown on TV Weiterhin wird der Abend für das MDR-Fernsehen aufgezeichnet, voraussichtlicher Sendetermin ist der 12. Juli pkow.de/konzert/mdr-musiksommer Jun 12 at 22:22
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    It possibly depends where you're sitting: in the best seats you often get people dressed up more, but if you're in a gallery or cheap seats, there may be more students, young people, and others less well dressed.
    – Stuart F
    Jun 13 at 10:40
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    If you have activity trousers (walking trousers) that look like 'nice' trousers you only need to bring a shirt/blouse and possibly a tie. If you are used to putting on your own ties you can have one in your pocket and adding it when you see the other man are wearing theirs, or you can start out with a tie and take it off if you are the only one.
    – Willeke
    Jun 13 at 15:10
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    You're right about the Czech Republic: I bought a ticket for a classical concert when visiting Prague (a real concert, not the tourist affairs), and didn't have any smart formal clothes, and was very conspicuously under-dressed for the occasion. Jun 13 at 22:23
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    The main risk of overdressing is that someone will think you work for either the venue or the orchestra. You might be handed a baton and expected to conduct.
    – Kaz
    Jun 14 at 0:50

4 Answers 4

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I would say that the dresscode depends more on the type of venue than the type of concert. At least I would dress differently if I go to a classical concert in a concert hall than I would do if I go to an outdoor classical concert.

The opening concert from the concert hall you are going to is available in full length on YouTube and will give you a good impression of what the audience is wearing there. If you show up in jeans and a t-shirt, that will probably stick out. As you can see, most men are indeed wearing suits, but if you wear a halfways decent pair of cotton trousers and a shirt perhaps with a sweater on top, that would also be perfectly acceptable.

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    I would say it will also somewhat depend on the concert itself. An opening night like the one you referenced, will be a more formal event than a generic middle of the week performance. That being said, you are perfectly right, nowadays shirt+jacket/sweater should be perfectly fine for all places and occasions short of Bayreuth.
    – mlk
    Jun 13 at 6:37
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    indeed it would depend both on the venue and the event. I've visited a classical concert matinee performance as a teenager where formal attire wasn't expected, an evening performance of the same concert at the same venue formal attire would have been much appreciated. And an evening performance of a stand up comedian in that same venue again wouldn't have expected formal attire.
    – jwenting
    Jun 13 at 9:01
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    It depends on a lot of factors. In more touristy places, many tourists will turn up dressed in casual clothing, but in a place where classical music is more of a high society thing, there may be dressing up. Even things like ticket prices will have an impact. And there may be different traditions for different venues (some cities have different venues for serious classical music and for operetta, with slightly different clientele).
    – Stuart F
    Jun 13 at 10:42
  • +1 for the YouTube link. Thanks!
    – NL_Derek
    Jun 13 at 20:19
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    @StuartF In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the opera is during the summer in a semi-outdoor setting, and people tailgate (IE have barbecues, picnic) in the parking lot in Tuxedos and fancy dresses before the performances.
    – Peter M
    Jun 14 at 13:18
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My husband and I regularly go to the Philharmonic in Düsseldorf and to the Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf. At both venues it's not so fancy. Most of the older men would wear trousers, not jeans. And a button down shirt or a sweater, with a jacket in cold weather. I usually don't see men in ties. Women will usually wear a nice shirt and pants or a skirt. It looks a lot like dressing for church or for dinner in a fancy restaurant. Wernigerode looks like a small town, and I wouldn't expect it to be so formal. I'd bet on trousers and a nice shirt. No tie.

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  • People in East Germny like to dress up, too, on occasion. Thats not exclusive do Düsseldorf! Jun 13 at 20:55
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    I wasn't thinking about Wernigerode being in the east. I was thinking about it being a small town. Nevertheless, apologies. Jun 14 at 7:01
  • I suppose a tie can't hurt, especially if one feels comfortable (both physically and socially) wearing one. Jun 15 at 17:16
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Unless it is a highly formal event where a dresscode (black tie, white tie) is specifically announced, you can rarely go wrong with smart casual, and it matches my personal experience of such events. You definitely want a shirt and fabric trousers (not jeans). A bow tie or necktie is also something you can have with you if you are unsure, and if you see other people are without it just stays in the pocket, but if other people wear it you can take it out and put it on there.

For the lady, again smart casual would be fine in both more casual and more formal occasions and shouldn't raise eyebrows. By my experience, the women tend to dress up more than the men for anything short of a ball.

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From my experience, black jeans and long-sleeve shirt are the minimum. They won't kick you out if you come in a t-shirt, but you might feel out of place.
Of course, you can dress up more if you like; there will be people in ball gowns and three-piece suits, and you might see a tie too. That's between you and your likes.

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