What To Wear at an Art Gallery Opening

You’ve just received an invitation to a slick, big city art gala. What do you wear at an art gallery opening? There are no rules when it comes to the art world. Get crazy with your ensemble, no one is going to judge you here.

Art & Culture

Regardless of your taste or style, it is always fun to attend an art gallery opening. They are a terrific way to expand your horizons and introduce yourself to new ways of thinking. Gallery openings are a great opportunity to meet new people in your neighborhood who share a common interest.

Chicago’s burgeoning art scene includes many art galleries on Michigan Avenue, in River North and in newer developing arty areas such as Ukranian Village, Bucktown and Andersonville. So, pull an outfit together and enjoy some complimentary wine and cheese while viewing some beautiful pieces of art, sculpture and mixed media.

Color! Color! Color!

You do not want to be a drab Dora at a big city art event. You want to be like a Lichtenstein  . A splash of color is what you’ll want to be when you hit the door ready for your complimentary champagne.

Don’t be afraid to mix primary colors when you’re going to an art gallery. This is a great time to wear that piece of Versace couture that hangs in your closet that you rarely wear, because it’s just too loud for the Midwest. No need to edit your outfit, because people tend to want to be noticed at art events. You can’t be too colorful.

But, if you just can’t abide with all that color and are feeling your inner Goth. Go black. All black. Nothing is more overstated than when you’re completely understated. A skinny black jean over boots with a black camisole or turtleneck and black matching tailored jacket will do. Let everyone know that you refuse to participate in their fiesta of color. Go all black—Deter style.

Patterns & Textures

You can throw out that old rule that plaid and stripes are never to meet. Combining plaid, stripes or even polka dots will make you a stand-out at an art showing. Better yet, look for oversized houndstooth prints to partner with a bold stripe. To go one step further, oversized prints in bold pop art colors will garner a lot of attention. This year florals are big. The bigger the better.

Textures can really make an outfit pop. Try oversized corduroy for fall gallery events. A baby smooth leather jacket makes for an excellent contrast to a wide corduroy pant or skirt. Colorful, striped leggings will be an eye grabber of artists and patrons alike.

Accessories Make The Man (or woman)

Colorful silk bow ties or scarves can be the cherry on top of a fun gallery outfit. If ties aren’t your thing, try an unusual or noticeable pin. The key is being noticed. No need to be a shrinking violet at any art event. An unusual purse can be a statement all it’s own.

At last year’s S.O.F.A. (Sculptural Objects and Functional Art & Design) event held at Chicago’s Navy Pier, I saw a woman carrying a purse that looked like a fuzzy pink Chihuahua. It looked like a real dog. Her outfit was simple. But, a year later….. her ensemble was still memorable. Have fun with it!

Shoes are a terrific opportunity to get noticed. You are sure to be noticed wearing a pair of patent leather Fishtank Platform shoes. Clunky is cool. It is not possible to get too crazy at an art gallery event. It’s just two clicks away from being Halloween. Costume-y is okay in this case.

A funky-fun belt can work to your advantage. Maybe it’s overly wide, made from an unusual fabric or bedazzled with Swarovski crystals. A little glitz and glitter can go a long way.

Perhaps you want to wear something that is an homage to your favorite artist. Tight plaid pants partnered with a T-Shirt emblazoned with an Andy Warhol quote scrawled in Sharpie will get you points for authenticity. Dig deep.

“I wonder if it’s harder for 1) A man to be a man, 2) A man to be a woman, 3) A woman to be a woman, or 4) A woman to be a man.” –Andy Warhol

You can be trendy, topical and relevant all at the same time. Break out those kooky glasses that you bought and put in a drawer. You’ll be meeting new people and making an impression as the fun one in the room with your chunky specs. Kooky eyewear is a terrific way to catch their eye. Think Harry Caray, Sally Jessie Raphael or Dame Edna.

The Take Away

Any art gallery opening, show or event is going to be a festival of color. It’s a great chance to meet fun, open-minded people and explore new ways of thinking. Don’t be intimidated about the price of art, it is okay to look with no intention of buying. Art is for everyone.

The idea is to enjoy a free glass of champagne in a fabulously overstated outfit with an artists’ point of view. Artists who are present at shows love to talk about their art. They enjoy telling  us about what inspires them as well as some of their techniques to create their works.

This is your chance to get creative and put your inner artist to work. Express yourself with a fun, colorful outfit and see who you’ll meet.






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What To Wear at An Art Gallery Opening
This article explores creative ideas for outfits to wear at art gallery openings.
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