Digital DJ Tips reader DJ Nshyap writes in with a surprisingly common question among DJs playing more formal types of events: “What should I wear when I DJ events like weddings, corporate shows, and birthday parties? And should DJs be dressed in fashionable / flashy clothes at club gigs, or are jeans and shirts fine?”
Digital DJ Tips Says:
Always dress for the occasion. As a performer during the event, you will be the centre of attention whether you like it or not.
For formal and corporate shows, we recommend coming dressed as if you were a guest. For example, if a suit is required of guests, the least you should have on is a suit as well. In other words, don’t come in khakis and a button down polo – dress up to meet the requirement.
Similarly, if it’s a Hawaiian-themed corporate function, showing up in a tux might make you look a little too stiff for the party atmosphere. You don’t have to wear a grass skirt and have a lei around your neck, but you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb because you’re sweating in a three-piece suit in the middle of a tiki torch-laden DJ booth. Basically, when it comes to dressing for events, don’t make it look like you “didn’t get the memo”.
For club gigs and festivals, you’re generally given more artistic freedom to dress according to your style and music (eg Richie Hawtin’s perennial black shirts), so go ahead. I usually come in dark jeans, boots, and a polo, but if it’s too hot outside (I live in a tropical country, after all), I’ll just have a presentable shirt on. What I wear varies, but I do have one rule that I stick to no matter what: no flip-flops in the DJ box. That goes for Crocs, too (sorry, Crocs lovers!).
Our forum moderator DJ Vintage has some great advice:
“Do not try to outshine the principals (wedding couple, company hot shots, birthday boy/girl). As a mobile DJ, you are a big part of the entertainment for the night. You will be in pictures, and people will look at you more than at random guests in general. This means whatever you wear should be fresh (no ratty, decades-old clothes), pressed, and appropriate for the event.
“The way you present yourself is crucial to your image as a professional, and it pays to even have some clothes that you bought just for DJing. I have a few such pieces that I probably would not wear in private, but that do give off a vibe when gigging: Being ‘DJ Vintage’, I can sometimes use clothes to emphasise the vintage bit.
“As for club gigs and festivals, assuming most people still dress up to go to an event or venue, it pains me to see that, even at expensive festivals, the headliners will still show up in jeans and a T-shirt. But, they get to wear what they want and people come to see them, so they get away with it. Unfortunately, it’s a luxury the other 99.9% of us don’t have.”
How do you think DJs should dress for functions and mobile gigs? Should a DJ have a consistent “look” when she or he plays at a club? How much personal style can a DJ inject into his or her formal wear when DJing a wedding? Let us know below.