Friday, October 29, 2010

I'm going to a [fill in the blank] and I don't know what to wear!

'Behind the Scenes' with Jules Riding in Concert

Remember that 'what should I wear?' wail when you want to dress modestly but you also want to fit in with the crowd? That was me before my Auckland singing debut, the pressure of the occasion magnified by the concert being filmed live for DVD.

Promotional poster: Narelle in concert with Jules Riding

Six weeks before show time, I inquired for the wardrobe mistress. There wasn't one. The best information (given by a male) was: "It will either be everyone in black or wear what you like."

I didn't want to wear black. I could, but I wouldn't look my best. In the absence of a directive, I focused on 'wear what you want' and the angel persona my vocal styling seemed to have garnered for me.

I came up with bright yellow imitation satin with a slight crumpled look, meters of cream lace net, combined in a modesty design experiment you'll hear more about in a future post, to be worn with the ivory mermaid skirt (Backpackers Best Bits #1) and white lattice cork-heeled sandals.

The Friday night dress rehearsal was an extremely stressful affair for all concerned, with fifty cast and crew members struggling to overcome significant setbacks. The lady I'd hoped to ask for advice on my appearance wasn't there. My small requests for nod or nay on my costume dissipated into the dark auditorium along with the fog from the haze machine.

The dramatic swoops of the backdrop were lit in glowing red. I wondered what effect did bright yellow bring to that? As far as I could tell, there was great disparity between me and everyone else. I was worried, but my time on stage required 110% concentration on my performance. I had to leave without my appearance concerns being resolved.

Late Friday night, weary and worried

On Saturday afternoon as I got ready for the concert, I heard that my stage presence had certainly been angelic. The film crew said, "You glowed." The bright spotlights had washed me all into one pale colour and I contrasted starkly with the rest of the cast who turned out in variations of black and blue. I'm so thankful I had another outfit with me.

It was a silky polyester shell top and 6-panel skirt that I made in 1998, one of those unexpected successes that can be worn anywhere. I refitted the skirt in August this year and added a lining. For the concert, I brought the outfit up to date with a kimono tie-belt from Kooky and black heeled sandals. A blue pearl necklace helped draw the eye to my face.

The colours enabled me to blend in the with the team, but the style was very different to what the other ladies chose to wear. I like to be modest and feminine, and that guides what I wear, but as I'm sure you know, sticking to what you like requires a certain amount of courage and grace which can feel like a lot of effort when your coping mechanisms are already working overtime.

I was also shooting for gorgeous. Not able to get a visual of myself on stage or feedback from others was a miserable position to be in. If I looked good, I thank God.

I learned that when there's no-one to ask for advice on the 'what to wear' question, or the answer you do get is unsatisfactory, keep pushing until you find someone with wisdom in matters of apparel. Find a way to deal with the uncertainty so you can focus on enjoying the event.

On the positive side, click on this link to view a five minute video of Narelle's Ten Favourite Things about being in concert with Jules Riding. (We promise the audio quality is better than in the last interview!).

Narelle will join Jules Riding and Acoustic Band on tour in four cities in November. Go to for details.

The album will be available on DVD, CD, and mp3 on and iTunes, and select songs on YouTube. Narelle features in two songs: "In Your Presence" and "Holy God". Release date November 12th.

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