Wardrobe Change!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by William Draven, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin (December 6, 1805 – June 13, 1871) was a French magician who changed the way the looked at the performing magician. Until Houdin came along magicians were still wearing conical hats, looking like Merlin or some other exotic Asian or east Indian character. What Houdin did was unique. He dressed in tux, tails, and a top hat. This wasn't because he was being classy. This was because he was dressing just like everyone else in the audience. In essence, he was setting himself at the level of every other Joe out there, yet he was still able to do miraculous things.

    Since then the classic image of the stereotypical magician has shifted. Now the classic image has shifted. Now the classic image is tux and tails, not the Merlin esc or exotic Orient. Yet every hack and a lot of other legit working acts still dress in what? Tuxes or exotic costume pieces that looks like it crawled out of Jeff McBride's wardrobe closet. -Myself included in that statement.

    Magicians as a group seem to be slow to adapt to changes in culture, and those early adapters in our numbers don't seem to get enough support or respect for what they're doing. The concept of looking like a normal person, and performing miracles with objects that are common place in our society is one of noted study. When we can connect with someone on such a personal level and make a miracle happen with something they are infinitely familiar with it really does something powerful for them. Why use a silver dollar when a quarter is more common? Why use custom decks when everyone and their sister have seen bikes? Why indeed? Is it prestige? Class? Quality? Character? Personal tastes? Or is it because everyone else is doing it? If you can't provide a suitable reason to justify or explain why your using things that aren't common to your audience maybe you should consider making a shift to doing so?

    The modern image today of suits and ties have been adopted by a lot of adult performers, Penn & Teller being two of note. They've always said their decision to go the three piece suit route is because Houdin dressed like everyone else in the audience, so they wanted to as well. Even the Magic Castle in Hollywood strictly enforces a dress code that echos the suit and tie look. However even that is changing. I've for a long time stood opponent on this forum, and others like it, to what I've come to call the "David Blaine Jeans & T-shirt" look. I've slammed young magicians for dressing alike all cookie cutter, but with meditation and reflection comes wisdom. Maybe they've got a point? If Houdin was right, you should look like your audience, and for you teenagers NO ONE is going to be wearing a tux outside of Prom, and few will have a suit in their closet that isn't worn only to church. So what SHOULD you wear? Well if you're going to look like everyone else, that's jeans and a T-shirt. Now this could open up a world of discussion regarding what kind of jeans and shirts. Do I wear a band shirt? Don't I? Do I wear a shirt with my own logo on it? Hell maybe do I sell these shirts so all my friends advertise my brand too? but perhaps that's better saved for future replies to this thread. The bottom line is The face of magic is changing again. We have a lot of younger blood coming up, and the urban look is in. Suits and Ties may be impractical, but you certainly SHOULD be thinking about your look, and everything should be done for a conscious reason.

    I'll leave you with this final thought; If you are going to do magic then you should be dressed at least 10% better than everyone else in the room - however that means. Since most of the working force in the world are doing the suit thing, then there you go, UNLESS you have a character. If you are branding a character then stay true to your brand.

    What say you?
     
  2. As contradictory as it sounds (and barring the character branding thing) I say that in general you want to look "similar but different" than your audience. You need to stand out a bit, be spottable in the crowd - yet not stick out like a sore thumb. But yet again I think it all depends on the other specifics as well. If, for example, I'm going to do a close-up card act for about 20 people at a Rotary Club event in a convention center meeting room (behind a table ala L&L Video style) and I knew everyone in the audience was going to be in a suit and tie, I might opt for a short sleeve dress shirt, no tie and a vest. Yet the exact same show happening in a high roller's suite in a swanky casino hotel might make me bust out the cummerbund.

    But if you're going for a general "What does today's magician look like?" I don't think there's one distinguishing trait or one "look" to be found. And I'm pretty happy about that. Again barring characters, now nobody knows for sure who's a magician until those people reveal themselves. Look at Dan and Dave. They look like pretty ordinary guys. (OK, OK, Dan looks like Dave and Dave looks like Dan but that the nature of their nature.) If you didn't know they had magical talents and skills, you'd probably assume that they were part of the audience than the headlining act. David Regal can walk directly off of a motion picture set and step right behind a bar to entertain the patrons, then take the stage.

    So I return to my philosophy of "similar but different" for the average case, but with carefully chosen variances based on the particular situation.
     
  3. well. i hear dressing up like a magical dragon works quite well in some countries
     
  4. Well Draven you've dragged it out of me! My secret to the 10% better rule in performance dress as well as mens fasion in general. The simple white dress shirt! When I first started performing for strangers and eventually in bars and restaurants I wanted to look good due to the idea of " yaI look well ya feel well, ya feel well ya perform well!" I tend to be of the more punk rock persuasion with a few tattoos and piercings, usually wearing black band or horror movie shirts and a black hat that is quite similar in style to ones worn by justin miller in his street performances. This is just my usual dress style. I don't have long hair and Im pretty clean cut and presentable. I found when going out people would always ask why I was so dressed up whenever I wore a simple white dress shirt over my black band or horror movie shirts. Truth is I had done NOTHING but added a white dress shirt to the mix. This simple addition has served me well in performances as well as the social scene! That 10% better dressed rule seems to work wonders when establishing the performer and spectator relationship. People just seem more inclined to want to watch and listen. So there is my secret for the performance world as well as the dating scene. Just try adding a simple white dress shirt over a normal t-shirt and jeans! Its perfect for that extra 10% without over doing it! You can still look just like everyone else...just 10%the better! Anyone here please try it out and pay attention to how many people will seem to think you are "dressed up" even though you're still wearing jeans and a t-shirt...
     
  5. lol *CoughCHINACoughCough* (No racism intended)
     
  6. England, actually.
     
  7. I always tend to perform using casual clothes, and even in my country I have to give up bicycle decks because, apart from expensive, they are completely unknown and look like something special. That's why I have to use those horrible bridge size, plastic coated chinese playing cards :D
     
  8. Depending on where I am I'll dress differently, but whenever I'm out for the specific purpose of performing, I always have a hat. My choice hat is a black Fedora with a red, white and black band, but sometimes I'll switch things up and wear a different hat. The rest of my "costume" is determined by the environment that I'm in, and who I'm performing for. When I'm getting paid, I wear dress pants, a dress shirt, a vest, and my hat. When I'm just out looking for a good time, I'm in whatever I happen to put on that day, and my hat.
     
  9. It all depends on if I'm being paid or not for my attire. If I am booked by a client then I'm with Benji Bruce on this one...suit and tie all the way. Partially because I don't play a character. If I'm just out at a party...bonfire...restaurant with friends...just jamming or showing people a few things...then I'm more casual with designer jeans (rock revivals) and a graphic t from Express.
     

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