When it comes to drumming, you might have been struggling to find a good pair of shoes, shorts, and a shirt that fits well and is not too hot or cold for you. That is a fair question, and many are encountering this.
It is recommended to coordinate with the band members to ensure a minimum of cohesion. Since most people won’t look below the waist, shoes and trousers can be whatever feels comfortable. In the end, it’s all about personal preference and good performance; there is no right and wrong.
There are different types of clothing that all have their pros and cons; some are suited better for certain situations, and some not.
What Drummers Should Wear for Drumming
Importance of Appearance and Comfort
There is no right or wrong. Many people say you can wear whatever you want, and then some people tell you to stick with the image of the band and try to look as a cohering group. Of course, it’s more recommended not to fall out of the picture and to appear as a colorful dog between your black-dressed bandmembers. Don’t freak out if everyone else is wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Not that you all have to look the same, but at least be in a similar area.
Because the viewers will always see the picture of the band and if it’s maybe a bit off, this will stick with him for the whole show. So, appearance is the one big thing.
The importance of appearance is different from band to band. There are bands like KISS who find it very important to look alike. They always maintain this image through all of their shows. Then there are bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers who do not have this coherent image. They always wear what they want, even with no clothes on their upper body.
So it’s relatively crucial that you are all on the same page as far as image is concerned, and it’s certainly smart to have it discussed beforehand. No matter what others say, you are selling a product, and the packaging counts. If you are a cover or tribute band, make sure to fit the “original” band not just in terms of music, but also in terms of the image!
Another important thing, however, is how comfortable it is to wear what you’re wearing. It is of no use if your trousers are maybe too tight, which makes you not be able to move around the kit for 1-2 hours straight.
Always make sure that you don’t dress like anything you don’t want or feel utterly uncomfortable in. This also includes, for example, getting ear piercings, tattoos, or something more permanent than clothes.
Finding the Right Balance
I think it’s different when you are a beginner band and don’t have many fans yet versus a professional band who already have a big crowd of people who like their music. I think the more professional you are and the more fans you have, the more critical the appearance is because more people will be there to judge the image. You cannot avoid this.
I think it won’t be the end of the world if you maybe decide at an early stage of your band lifetime that you want to have a little change in your appearance. Because in the end, music is all about expressing your individuality, so while expressing yourself on the drums, why not express yourself in your clothes? There are no rules.
In the beginning, wear whatever you want, because really being in a band is cool enough without the clothes.
…So? Here Is Some Actual Advice
Are you playing on special occasions like in a church or at a wedding? Here, your performance won’t be the center of attention and more likely to be somewhat in the background where there is not so much space for self-expression. More likely, you have been brought in to serve a specific purpose. So for those occasions, try to dress more formal with a shirt and good jeans, which does not necessarily have holes without end.
Are you a cover band? Then try not only to embody their sound in your music but also to resemble their appearance and thus create the right atmosphere.
Are you a solo artist? I guess this category will be the easiest since you are only one person on stage with no one that you have to agree with in terms of clothing. But, make up your mind beforehand because you might want to sell yourself in a certain way, which should be consistent.
Are you none of the above, so a “classic” band that makes their own stuff? Then you have the choice to either try to be the “classic” band or to stand out of the crowd by avoiding regular unobtrusive clothing. The most basic concept would probably be a decent t-shirt, jeans, and skate shoes. Most “rock star” drummers only wear t-shirts and jeans anyway.
A basic outfit can, for example, be:
- black t-shirt, black shorts (for warm weather), blue jeans (if it’s cold), black ball cap on backward
- your usual day wear as in jeans, t-shirt, sometimes a hoodie if it’s cold, and a pair of Chuck Taylors
- sports jersey around the top, plus short sports pants, sports socks, and sports shoes
- an unresistable dress shirt, tie and a vest
Please keep in mind: Clothing is, of course, one pillar that defines you as a band. But the musical part is the other vital pillar that has to be good. You won’t succeed with great clothing but rubbish music. Also, not the other way around. But I’ve seen some fantastic musicians, yet they look like hell, and therefore they don’t go anywhere. Wear stylish clothes, because people will always judge you by your looks at the end of the day. I even know people who haven’t been rehired because of their looks.
What About the Weather?
Good question! So it’s essential to find the right balance between appearance and comfort. For example, when the weather is cold, and you’re playing an outside gig, you may want to dress warmer by maybe putting on a light jacket or something, while still trying to maintain the right image on stage.
Most of the time, drumming is exhausting and causes you to feel warm after the first few minutes of play. This is amplified when playing in the summer months, especially outdoors. It’s best to wear the minimum that is acceptable for the occasion. So for example shorts instead of long trousers and a tank top instead of a hoodie. Some people also play barefooted. You can also try a fan to keep the air circulated and cooler.
Generally, when playing indoors, the temperatures should be regulated well. Except you are playing a gig at a tiny location that doesn’t have air conditioning – that happened to us, and it wasn’t fun, neither for us nor the audience!
When playing in the winter months outside, you can wear jeans, a sweatshirt, and skate shoes. Especially with lower temperatures, I would recommend keeping a warmer dress at the beginning, and when you are warm, take off a warm piece of clothing, e.g., the sweatshirt. It is also a good idea to do a warm-up before stepping into the cold by doing 5-10 minutes of rope skipping. That way, you are already warm and might not need to undress during the show.
Different Music Style – Different Clothes?
Yes. I think there is some typical clothing for specific music styles that most people associate with it. And since appearance is a critical point when it comes to promoting your music, it won’t hurt if you try to stick within the same area.
Now, I tried to figure out the different genres, such as rock, pop, metal, or even band types like certain tribute bands or 50s bands.
|Rock, Metal||jeans or shorts (if the kick pedal catches the jeans), t-shirt (e.g., other band’s merch), mostly dark, dressy or dark shoes|
|Pop||jeans, t-shirt, all colors, sometimes even glitter when applicable|
|50s||bowling shirt or Hawaiian shirt, jeans, Chucks|
|BTO Tribute||jeans, biker shirt, cutoff denim jacket, running shoes|
As mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, this cannot be treated as a strict ruleset; it’s more of rough guidance if you are unsure about how to approach this topic.