The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is one of the leading orchestras in the United States. With a reputation for artistic excellence, the ASO performs more than 250 concerts a year for live audiences exceeding 500,000 in Atlanta’s Symphony Hall and at Chastain Park Amphitheatre. Like most classical music performances, the ASO does have a dress code for audience members attending concerts. However, the dress code is relatively flexible compared to some other major symphony orchestras.
Dress Code Overview
The ASO’s official dress code is “smart casual.” This generally means dressy casual clothing that is neat, well put together, and avoids clothes like jeans, shorts, t-shirts, sneakers, and flip flops. Men are encouraged to wear button down shirts, polos, trousers, and loafers or dress shoes. For women, dresses, skirts, blouses, sweaters, dressy pants, and dress shoes are recommended. Formal wear like cocktail dresses, suits, and long gowns are welcome but not required.
The most important aspects of the smart casual dress code are to avoid looking sloppy, underdressed, or wearing clothes with large logos or graphics. The focus should be on looking polished and put together to match the sophisticated environment of the symphony hall. Extremely casual, revealing, or distressed clothing is not permitted. Hats are also requested to be removed during the performance.
Dress Code by Concert
The ASO’s dress code may vary slightly depending on the specific concert. Here are the typical dress code guidelines:
For classical symphony concerts at Symphony Hall featuring the full ASO and a guest conductor, smart casual dressy attire is recommended. Gentlemen are encouraged to wear a blazer, dress trousers, button down shirt and tie. Ladies generally wear dressy skirts, pants, dresses or dressy separates.
Pops concerts, often held at Chastain Amphitheatre during the summer, have a relaxed smart casual dress code. Short sleeve shirts, sundresses, dress shorts, and sandals are acceptable. Just avoid flip flops, swimsuits, extremely casual shorts, ripped clothing, and graphic tees.
Holiday concerts in December encourage dressing up for the festive occasion. Cocktail attire and formalwear are welcomed if desired for events like the Christmas with the ASO concert. Women sometimes wear holiday-themed dresses and men sport blazers, dress shirts and ties.
For certain concerts aimed at families and younger audiences, the dress code may be casual. This includes concerts like Movies in Concert, where attire like jeans, t-shirts, shorts, and sneakers are allowed.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra does enforce their dress code policy. Patrons who show up in clothing that is deemed inappropriate may be asked by staff to change clothes or in some cases may be refused entry. This includes attire like ripped jeans, graphic t-shirts, shorts, baseball caps, sports jerseys, and flip flops. If you are ever unsure about the dress code, it is best to err on the dressier side or call the ASO box office ahead of time to check.
Reasons for Dress Code
The ASO dress code is in place for several key reasons:
- Maintains a polished, upscale environment appropriate for a world-class orchestra.
- Shows respect for the musicians and performers.
- Reduces distractions during the performance.
- Discourages attendees who are not serious about the concert experience.
- Sets the expectation that the symphony is a special event worth dressing up for.
By setting dress code standards, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra aims to create an atmosphere where the focus is on the music, not the attire of the audience.
Dress Code Tips
Follow these tips for seamlessly adhering to the ASO dress code:
Men’s Dress Code Tips
- Opt for button down collared shirts, polos, and sweaters.
- Wear trousers, chinos, or dark jeans without rips or distressing.
- Choose dress shoes or loafers. Sandals and sneakers are too casual.
- Sport jackets and blazers can elevate the look.
- Ties are optional but add a sophisticated touch.
Women’s Dress Code Tips
- Choose dresses, skirts, blouses, or dressy tops and sweaters.
- Pair with flats, heels, dressy sandals or boots.
- Bring a dressy jacket or blazer for chilly concert halls.
- Opt for dress pants or dark jeans without holes or distressing.
- Accessories like jewelry and scarves complete the outfit.
What to Avoid
To comply with the symphony dress code, avoid the following types of clothing:
- Jeans with rips, distressing, or casual washes
- T-shirts, especially with graphics or logos
- Shorts, sweatpants, yoga pants, leggings
- Flip flops or casual sandals like Birkenstocks
- Sneakers, athletic shoes
- Hats, caps, visors, beanies
- Sports jerseys, athletic wear
- Revealing or extremely casual dresses and skirts
- Clothing with stains, tears, or showing excessive wear
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s smart casual dress code strikes the right balance between requiring classy attire while still being approachable and family-friendly. By avoiding overly casual or sloppy clothing, patrons uphold the elegant concert experience without needing formalwear. When in doubt, it’s always a safe bet to dress on the nicer end of the dress code spectrum. With some thoughtful dress choices, audiences can focus on enjoying the music performed to perfection by the renowned ASO.