We have a framed print in our home that says “Fort Worth, Texas – Cowboys & Culture”….such a great description of Fort Worth.   In January, I wrote about what to wear to the rodeo.  Now, I’m writing about what to wear to Ft. Worth’s most famous cultural event…The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. And for a bonus, I’ve included some additional Fort Worth classical concerts and venues.

1958 in Moscow, Russia, USSR the International Tchaikovsky Competition

So, two things you need to know about the Cliburn competition:

  1. “…The Cliburn Competition is a cross between the Miss America Pageant, the Olympic Games, the Academy Awards, and The Pulitzer.”  – The Boston Globe
  2. …And for some patrons, it involves not only attending multiple concerts but also attending multiple parties!

Since our youngest son is an invited guest to all the concerts and parties this year, he asked me to accompany him to a few of the events.  Chris is a Vice President of an artist management firm in New York and the manager of Vadym Kholodenko, first place winner of the 2013 Cliburn competition. All that being said….sounds like a fashion opportunity to me!

But here’s the deal, just like casual looks you see at rock and country concerts, the same basically goes for classical music concerts these days. So, if you are not inclined to be “all fancy,” then no problem, but do know I have some ideas for you!   And if you are a little fashion OCD like me, then you will want to hear about some of my ‘hip” style options for attending classical concerts.  

Let’s start with a casual classical concert look first….Fort Worth Symphony’s Botanic Gardens Series.  Such fun concerts in the park for all ages!  For comfort, my suggestion is to wear shorts, capris, and midi skirts.  A cute look I adore is a striped midi skirt worn with a white t-shirt and sandals or sneakers.  If you have great legs, by all means,  please wear shorts, and be sure to check out some really cute styles from J. Crew and Madewell.  Besides enjoying a great concert and firework show, the main idea is to be comfortable and wear what flatters you the most.

Another option would be a bohemian look.  Okay, I realize a classical outdoor concert is not exactly Coachella, but maybe it’s the closest you’ll get to concerts from your youth.  A current look I love is a flowy midi or maxi floral duster.  These can be worn over skirts, jeans or shorts.  Maybe you will even want to accessorize with a head scarf.  If so, be sure to check out the head scarf tutorial on our Pinterest board.  

My favorite Cliburn Series venue is at the Live Oak Lounge in the Fairmount district.  It’s a cool neighborhood bar with a concert stage.  The classical musicians performing at this venue tend to have a youthful vibe (such as Sybarite5),and the atmosphere is very hip and cool. So what should you wear?  White jeans, a cute summer dress, or a maxi skirt would all be great looks for this scene.  

The Cliburn Series and the Chamber Music Society have a wonderful selection of concerts at the Kimbell and the Modern Art Museum.  Since these concerts are hosted in architectural masterpieces, why not dress on the artsy side.  Think about wearing something color blocked or a geometric ensemble.  A color blocked dress worn with pumps will give you a sophisticated concert-goer look.  For a casual contemporary style, think about wearing a geometric patterned top with a pair of black culottes.  And to all of that, I say….Andy Warhol, eat your heart out!    










You can’t go wrong with wearing a LBD (little black dress), or a black and white ensemble, or even a monochromatic look to a classical concert hosted at Bass Hall.  All three looks will transition from a Cliburn pre-party to the competition.  It is so easy to dress your look up or down with accessories, and you may want to consider adding a statement piece of jewelry to your classic look.  

I bet you had no idea how “hip” classical concerts could be.  It seems like Huey Lewis had it right all along….It really is “hip to be square!”


Holley Williams is a personal stylist specializing in closet inventory, seasonal shopping, closet organization and wardrobe consultation.  Contact Holley at [email protected].