The Top 10 Jazz Fashion Crimes


Sure Jamie Hyneman is cool... but it's not because of the beret

Jazz musicians are incredible at what they do. They are Ferrari's of musical capability and horsepower. So why are jazzers the perpetrators of so many crimes against fashion?

I'm no expert when it comes to fashion but I do know that a suit and tie can go a long way for a gentleman or a fashionable black dress can do wonders for any woman. Duke Ellington once said, "You've got to find some way of saying it without saying it." Sure, he was talking about performing music but in this case he also happened to nail down a philosphy for what jazz musicians should wear on stage.

Here are the top 10 jazz fashion crimes:

  1. Berets - these classic french chapeaus show up in jazz far too frequently. If you wear a beret to look cool... please know that you're only achieving the opposite. Beret = too ironic.
  2. Past Jazz festival t-shirts - Okay. We get it. You were actually at that festival. But we know how old the t-shirt is by looking at the year. If your festival tee is over one year old it's time to retire it.
  3. Ballcaps - never, never, never wear a ballcap when you're performing in front of an audience unless you're at a family reunion.
  4. Fedora's / Pork pie hats - a great haircut is much more effective... these hats make you look silly and insecure. Just blow us away with your chops, man.
  5. Hawaiian shirts - sure they are colorful but they are also FOR HAWAII and VACATION. They are clearly not work shirts.
  6. Jazz swag - say NO to any piece of clothing that simply has the word "jazz" on it.. especially in sequins or sparkles. This type of display smells of runny cheese. 'nuff said.
  7. Captains hats - there are only two exceptions. Count Basie and New Orleans brass bands.
  8. Muscle shirts - are underwear.
  9. Bandanas - if you sweat that much bring a towel and discreetly use it between numbers.
  10. Po' boy hats (frontward or backward) - even Samuel L. Jackson has moved on from wearing these hats (and he wore them for a long time) so it's time for jazz to move on as well.

Do you see a pattern? Yup, it's hats. Everybody stop wearing them.

Jazz has a long legacy of snappy dressers. Duke Ellington was one of the finest examples. Sure Duke wore hats in his day but he wore them outside as protection from the elements. Chances are you are inside at your gigs. Take your hat off.

Not every jazz artist is guilty of these fashion crimes. Jazz suffers from the fashion crimes of a few (well intentioned) individuals but it may be time to challenge them to change their style. It could lift jazz.

Ladies, if youre looking for some inspiration see Melody Gardot, Brandi Disterheft or Diana Krall. Gentlemen check out Wynton Marsalis. A good suit will take you a long way. It's armour for any artist.

You - the jazz artists - are Ferarri's. Dress like you drive one.

Tim Tamashiro