Personal Outfit Recommendations

Get outfit & shopping recommendations based on your own wardrobe

What To Wear To An Art Show

So you’ve got some cool gallery opening on your calendar or an art show date, but you don't know what to wear? We've got you covered.

Today we answer the questions you're bound to ask yourself at some point in your sartorial life: What to wear to an art gallery? Can you wear casual clothes to an art show? What to wear to an art museum date?

To help us get to the bottom of the art gallery style etiquette, we're joined by Anna Puzova, style blogger with an extensive background in fashion, Rosie Lai, stylist and creative consultant, and Tracie Marie, fashion blogger behind Tracie Marie Please.

Q: So there's no particular dress code for art galleries. But do you have any style advice for attending an art show or your go-to outfit combinations for art events?

Anna: I can’t say I do have a go-to combo or some special formula for art events or galleries. But I think there are some factors to consider, like the level of the art event (something typically local, a neighborhood kind of, international level more…), your personal style and whether it was a pre-planned or a spontaneous idea. See, if it’s a pretty local art gallery event and you know locals are more used to slightly dress up, then you won’t really risk to show up in a track suit (unless you are, like Kanye West or a part of a certain culture) and turn yourself into the most discussed topic. Or vice versa. Speaking of personal style, it’s about being dressed event-appropriate but still looking authentic. So my general advice will be to research an exhibit or an event, its direction and maybe required dress code and still stick to your personal style, add your own twist to this sort of outfit combination.

Rosie: People used to dress up for the opera and to a certain extent still do. I think there’s something about going to see art that demands a level of sophistication and respect in what you wear. And just as the MET Gala is an excuse for celebrities to dress extravagantly, I think attending an art show can also be an excuse for you to make slightly bolder sartorial choices. I’d pick one item to exaggerate, whether it’s a top with a dramatic silhouette or a skirt with a bold, graphic print then tone the rest down with a black blazer and heels.

Tracie: My go-to outfit combination would be a pair of sleek trousers, probably black, a lightweight top, and chunky heeled peep-toe sandals, or maybe a pointed toe heel. It's very sleek and simple!

Q: How about the style don'ts? What should you avoid wearing when you're going to an art gallery?

Anna: I wouldn’t be brave enough to advise sport-ish clothing when you consider attending an art gallery. But again, you know, lines are so much blurred these days so you can see people walking around wearing a hoodie or track pants or whatever else. This is also a personal style thing. So it’s not such a strict ‘don’t’ in terms of art galleries.

Rosie: I’d personally avoid sneakers, sandals and torn denim if possible. Basically anything you’d wear to the beach or a sports game I would stay away from.

Tracie: Dirty shoes or flip flops. I feel like when it comes to footwear you should be really put together! And obviously you wouldn't show up in sweat pants.

Q: Can you wear casual clothes to an art gallery? Can you think of art show-ready outfits that are more on the casual side?

Anna: Yes, I think casual stuff might work. I also see semi-formal and smart casual style variations to be good ideas for art galleries. I would play around formal pants, casual-like top or bodysuit, classy high heels and blazer/cardigan/biker jacket. Yes, I think this could be that go-to combo for less glamorous gallery events.

Rosie: Depending on the time of day and where you’re located, sometimes it’s simply not practical to dress to the nines. In those cases I think accessories come a long way in elevating a casual look. Even a simple day dress can be transformed with embellished flats and a chunky necklace. Shirtdresses and jumpsuits can be the perfect easy-chic base for any art gallery—just add a pretty clutch and fun flats and you’re good to go.

Tracie: I think you totally can if it's done in a put-together way. Like wearing a tailored suit with sneakers. Sneakers can easily make an outfit more casual and add a bit of personality. You can also always look chic by adding a pair of great heels to a jeans and a t-shirt outfit combination as well!

Q: What about art museum dates? Is an art museum a good idea for a date and if so, what would you wear to one?

Anna: Why not? It’s always interesting to share an art gallery moment with another person and discuss the exhibit. You can get to know each other better. Plus, if you know that your date is interested in art, you can turn it into a lovely surprise. Art gallery date dress code is fully up to you, your taste and style. Unless there’s an outlined dress code of course.

Rosie: I think both parties would have to be interested in art or else a museum date could get very boring very fast. But if I were to go on one, I would probably wear a lace or sheer black top with a fun, printed midi skirt. Then depending on whether it’s day or evening I’d wear flats or heels respectively.

Tracie: An art museum is a lovely idea for date! Depending on what season it is I would probably wear a breezy dress with booties and a nice jacket.

Q: Any advice for men? What does a guy need to wear on your first date at an art museum to get a second one? 

Anna: Something semi-formal or smart casual. White tee under blazer, jumper and pants – something like this would work. Together with masculine vibes, self-confidence and intelligence.

Rosie: I find it attractive when a guy is not afraid to dress up for you. A midnight blue button-up shirt does wonders on any man (seriously, any man) but pair it with a clean blazer and dark wash jeans and you have yourself a second date. Just no gym shoes please.

Tracie: Men just need to look nice! There's no need for a tux, but please make sure you are wearing decent and clean shoes. Jeans are fine, but please no basketball shorts and running shoes.

Q: Finally, what do you wear to an art museum when you're visiting abroad while on vacation? After all, local art museums are often a must on people's sightseeing lists when they're traveling.

Anna: Well, this again is about the fact whether you plan such gallery visits in advance or you decide it the last moment. When I travel I try to make sure I have a semi-formal combination or a ‘little black dress plus classy heels’ in my suitcase for cases like theaters, museums and so.

Rosie: If you’re traveling you’re probably not going to bring a whole outfit just for an art tour so I suggest packing chic separates that you can mix and match. Then accessorize, accessorize, accessorize! We just did a trunk show and one of our designers was Rebecca de Ravenel, the mind behind the super-cute ball drop earrings every blogger is sporting, and our clients snapped them up in every color for their Art Basel looks. A dramatic earring can be worn with jeans and a T-shirt but with a jumpsuit and heels, you’re instantly ready for any event.

Tracie: When I visited museums in Paris, France it was during the summer so it was incredibly hot! I liked to pair lightweight dresses with comfortable closed toe sandals or flats. Very comfortable but still very put together!

Do you like the featured outfits? These are some of the most stylish and popular combinations out there. But you can also filter out the outfits you see to match your own clothes.

Add some of your clothes to your digital wardrobe on Lookastic, and we'll show you outfits you can put together. Click here to get started .