What To Wear To A Poetry Reading

Are you thinking of attending a poetry reading, but don’t know what to wear? Don’t worry! Here, we provide a few helpful tips on what to wear to look your best while keeping it appropriate and respectful.

Firstly, you need to find out the dress code of the event. If no dress code is specified, the general rule of thumb is to go with something comfortable and sophisticated. If the event is dressy, don’t over-dress. Choose sophisticated, muted colors and avoid anything too loud or gaudy.

Secondly, you should keep your outfit simple. Men can opt for a collared shirt and slacks, chinos or trousers and a blazer. Women can opt for a nice dress or trousers and a blazer. Additionally, you may want to forgo accessories such as jewelry, as it might be a distraction during the reading.

Thirdly, your footwear is also important. Avoid awkward flip-flops, sky-high heels, or lace-up boots. Opt for a pair of flats or low-heeled pumps. They should be comfortable and able to handle a bit of walking, in case you need to get up and move around during the reading.

Fourthly, it is also important to consider fabrics. Opt for natural fabrics like silk, wool and cotton, which are comfortable as well as stylish. Avoid fabrics that are too flimsy or too bulky.

Finally, always keep in mind that it’s a poetry reading and not a fashion show. Focus more on comfort and less on making a fashion statement. Remember to look neat and polished. This goes a long way in conveying the right message.

Informal Readings

When it comes to attending poetry readings, there is no one-size-fits-all dress code. Attire for poetry readings can range from casual to formal, depending on the type of event. If it is an informal reading, like an open mic night in a coffee shop, it’s appropriate to opt for something casual like jeans and a t-shirt or a sweater. However, it is important to make sure that your clothes are clean and neat.

Additionally, if you are performing, you can use the opportunity to express your creativity. You can go all-out and find something that reflects your personality and also stands out. Of course, make sure you keep it classy and avoid anything that could be deemed offensive.

In general, when attending informal readings, opt for something comfortable and stylish. Don’t forget to accessorize! Choose items that reflect your own style.

Formal Readings

When it comes to formal readings, like those held in a theater, a library or a university, a more formal look is called for. Men can opt for a suit or a blazer with trousers, paired with a crisp white shirt (no tie necessary). Women can opt for a dress or a skirt suit or dressy trousers with a nice blazer. Opt for colors such as black, navy, grey or camel.

When attending formal readings, it is important to tread the fine line between stylish and conservative. You don’t want to dress like a teenager, but you also don’t want to over-do it. Keep it simple and classic.

Additionally, you can choose to add an accessory or two. A well-chosen hat, scarf or stylish jewelry can elevate your look without going overboard.

On the other hand, it is a good idea to avoid accessories that are too loud or flashy. Keep it appropriate.

Location Matters

Finally, it is important to note that the location of the event can influence your decision of what to wear. If it is an outdoor event, it’s a good idea to dress in layers, so that you don’t end up freezing in the cold. You can opt for a long skirt or trousers paired with a light sweater or a wrap.

Alternatively, if it is an indoor event, you can choose to dress it up. Opt for a blazer, tailored trousers or a dress with a nice pair of shoes. However, make sure that your shoes are comfortable and non-slip, in case you need to walk on carpets or tile floors.

Being Respectful

It is important to remember that a poetry reading is a serious event and thus, it is important to dress appropriately. You can dress to reflect your personality and individual style, but do not forget to be respectful at all times. Wearing clean and neat clothing is the best way to show your respect for the poet and the poetry reading.

When in doubt, opt for something simple that is comfortable and appropriate for the occasion. Remember that the focus should be on the poet, not your outfit.

Be Yourself

At the end of the day, whatever you wear to a poetry reading should reflect your own personal style. Ultimately, it should make you feel comfortable. Opt for garments that make you feel confident and stylish.

Additionally, feel free to add a few touches of personality. A fun scarf or a trendy hat can add the right amount of flair to your outfit without overdoing it.

Furthermore, you can also choose to express yourself through your choice of makeup and hairstyle. Opt for natural and subtle tones, and choose hairstyles that are neat and won’t be a distraction during the reading.


Layering is also an excellent way to add style to your outfit. Choose items that can be layered or easily mixed and matched to create interesting ensembles. When it comes to layering, remember to keep it light and don’t over-do it. Choose versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched, and accessorized to reflect your own unique style.

If you are attending an outdoor event, it is important to choose layers that will keep you warm, but won’t compromise on style or comfort. Look for lightweight items that can be easily layered, and an outer layer to protect you from the wind and cold.

Where To Shop

Shopping for poetry reading attire can be challenging. Fortunately, there are a few online stores that specialize in offering stylish and affordable outfits.

One such store is Poets & Writers, which stocks a range of clothing items that are perfect for a poetry reading. From sweaters to suits, you can find something to suit every budget.

Furthermore, there is also a range of second hand stores that sell designer clothes at a fraction of the price. You can choose to shop in-stores or online and find stylish clothes at a bargain.

Finally, if you need more inspiration, you can always turn to social media. Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr are full of ideas and tips to help you find the perfect outfit for a poetry reading.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

Leave a Comment