From London To LA: Art Gallery Opening

LA Style - outfit for art gallery opening

This is the second in a series of collaborations with Josephine of Chic At Any Age, comparing styles between our two respective cities. Part one HERE. Today we’re dressing for an art gallery opening and then dinner.

Ok, I have to confess that I haven’t been to an actual opening at an art gallery in some time. The kind with wine, canapés and maybe even someone photographing the event. But we have visited a few galleries in recent months. Los Angeles has a really thriving art scene, and there are plenty of galleries and studio spaces nearby. I’ve promised myself that I’m going to start taking myself out on an “art date” either to visit a museum or some galleries at least once a month.

There really are no set guidelines for what to wear to an event like this. Unless the gallery is expressly upscale, most people will probably be dressed casually, with personal flair. If you have something vintage, artisanal, fun, dramatic…go for it! If you’re going out to dinner afterwards, the level of formality of the restaurant can guide your own.

Above is an approximation of what I’d wear (if it’s not raining).

jacket | scarf (similar) | earrings | top | bag |
jeans | ring | rings | shoes (similar)

I think it’s hard to go wrong in LA by starting with jeans, and adding more polished pieces or materials that dress them up a bit. I’ve chosen a more “aged” looking pair here, but this look would also work with darker, non-distressed styles. My velvet jacket is actually this duster, which I’ll be showing in an outfit post soon.

Some things to remember:

  • You’ll probably be on your feet for a while, so comfortable shoes are a must.
  • I always prefer a small cross-body bag as opposed to a clutch to keep hands free for libations, brochures or snapping photos (if allowed, depends on the venue).
  • Again, this is LA so don’t count on a coat check, even in cold or wet weather.

Go check out Josephine’s London version, HERE.

Do you have a favorite museum or gallery that you visit regularly?

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  1. rukshanaafia
    November 21, 2016 / 4:21 am

    Since I am an artist visiting galleries is part of my work – although no less enjoyable for that . I’ve been lucky also always to have lived near a good gallery since being in the UK – which has also meant decades of their being free . I don’t go to openings of big shows because of the crowds but of course to smaller venues when my own work is on show . This is a different sartorial problem and was discussed years ago by female artists on LinkedIn as I recall . Many of us said we liked dressing up , maybe a little eccentrically and colourfully (NB note that many of the ladies featured in ‘Advanced Style’ are artists !) since we couldn’t in the studio and this was an opportunity . On the other hand if the point was to sell work how could we dress to please potential buyers ? One remembered seeing a man turn up in a business suit and then change into paint splashed coveralls which he kept in his briefcase !

    • Susan B
      November 22, 2016 / 2:34 pm

      rukshanaafia, that’s funny about the man changing into the overalls. One must play the part sometimes, I guess. I don’t think it would be unexpected to see a more creative sartorial style among artists, as people who are visually attuned.

  2. Jill Pontiere PO Box 560733 Orlando, Fl 32856-0733
    November 21, 2016 / 4:58 am

    Love all the clothing you have shown, other than the jeans with the holes…..For some reason I just can get myself to wear those… I do have a couple pairs with painted designs all over them that I will wear, but the rips… Small openings are just lovely and living in Florida they are very casual. Great post again from you! Thanks!

    • Susan B
      November 22, 2016 / 2:31 pm

      Hi Jill, thanks! I knew not everyone would be on board with the distressed jeans, but that’s OK. 🙂 We all can adjust to suit our tastes.

  3. Sisty
    November 21, 2016 / 6:55 am

    An art-date is a wonderful idea, and I pledge to join you. I work in downtown Washington DC within walking distance of several free national art galleries and I’m ashamed to admit how seldom I get into one. Building a new habit starting in December — thanks for the inspiration.

    • Susan B
      November 22, 2016 / 2:29 pm

      Sisty, DC has some amazing museums. It’s been too long since I’ve visited…

  4. Suz
    November 21, 2016 / 6:55 am

    Very nice ensemble. I agree with Jill, haven’t been able to wear the jeans with holes, distressed is fine but no holes for me! Suz from Vancouver

    • Susan B
      November 22, 2016 / 2:28 pm

      Suz, thanks! I’ve been wearing “distressed-no holes” and am ready to try just a few subtle rips… 🙂

  5. November 21, 2016 / 7:47 am

    We seem to be on the same page with our accents of reds and pinks. Love the red bag.

    • Susan B
      November 22, 2016 / 2:27 pm

      Thanks, Josephine! This was fun!

  6. November 21, 2016 / 9:18 am

    Great look. I too am not enamored by holes in jeans. But everything else works beautifully!

    • Susan B
      November 22, 2016 / 2:26 pm

      Thanks Sandy! I think this would also work with a non-distressed denim style.

  7. November 21, 2016 / 9:40 am

    I adore the jeans. I love the juxtaposition of the distressed and the formal. Loving those shoes.

    • Susan B
      November 22, 2016 / 2:25 pm

      Melissa, thanks and yes, agree about the juxtaposition!

  8. November 21, 2016 / 10:43 am

    Great look for an opening or any fun outing because it is so versatile. Cross body bag all the way, for sure for safe handling of finger foods and wine. Holes in the jeans? You are bold and hip and comfortable in your skin, that’s what they say to me. And I think they look more visually interesting than plain fabric. But each to his or her own – so glad we have options!

    • Susan B
      November 22, 2016 / 2:24 pm

      Melanie, thanks! I agree about the visual interest of the distressed jeans. And I especially like the contrast when they’re worn with more polished pieces.

  9. November 21, 2016 / 11:17 am

    OKkkkkk- You have outdone yourself with this posting Susan! It’s so “LA”, and quietly EDGY, with the caveat of being perfectly age-appropriate. You killed it. Love it. Makes me happy to look at the combo and use it to shop my closet 🙂

    • Susan B
      November 22, 2016 / 2:22 pm

      Awww, thanks! You have such great style, so that means a lot!

  10. ValToo
    November 21, 2016 / 11:20 am

    On the jeans front– I liked the look of the distressed jeans, but at 55 I was afraid I was too old to wear them. I bought my first pair recently and I love them. They add texture and a little fun to an outfit without looking as if I’m trying to dress like my daughters-in-law. And because I’m most myself in jeans, any jeans, it works.

    • Susan B
      November 22, 2016 / 2:22 pm

      ValToo, I’ve been more open lately to raw hem or lightly distressed styles. I think everyone has to go with what their comfort level dictates. I agree about the texture and fun they add.

  11. Garden Goddess
    November 21, 2016 / 11:27 am

    If you don’t mind driving back down to the Newport Beach area again (maybe do some holiday shopping and sightseeing at South Coast Plaza again perhaps?) this is an exhibit I enjoy. Oh, and your outfit will fit right in! The gallery is located in an industrial park area just north of the John Wayne airport (the gallery is in conjunction with his large framing warehouse).

    ~Randy Higbee Gallery: 7th Annual 6″ Squared Exhibition and Sale Dec. 3rd, 2016
    Gala Reception 6PM to 9PM almost 800 masterpiece works in the 6″ squared format by over 300 artists gathered from around America.
    Randy Higbee Gallery, 102 Kalmus Dr., Costa Mesa, CA 92626


    • Susan B
      November 22, 2016 / 2:20 pm

      Oh, that sounds like fun, thanks for the tip!

  12. Susan D.
    November 21, 2016 / 11:48 am

    I think all of this looks great. Living in Dallas, we just don’t wear jeans to events, unless they are backyard parties, and probably not even then. I find it so interesting to see the different dress conventions in different parts of the country. I’m all for arty and wish I had kept some of the arty clothing I’ve had over the years. At some point, I let go of some items that I would enjoy wearing. Those closet purges can be dangerous!

    • Susan B
      November 22, 2016 / 2:20 pm

      Hi Susan, it is interesting how different regions have different norms. I can think of a few pieces I’ve had over the years that I now wish I’d hung onto!

  13. November 21, 2016 / 4:17 pm

    I love museums. And being a native New Yorker and living in NYC for many years, I have a soft spot for the Met. My second and third faves are The Musee d’Orsay and the National Gallery in DC. Art museums put me in a very good state of calm and fascination. For our museum visits I’m usually in jeans and some sort of knit shirt or sweater and a blazer–depending on the weather it’s always boots or flats.

    • Susan B
      November 22, 2016 / 2:19 pm

      Catherine, I spent several hours at the Met during my visit to NYC in September, and could have spent DAYS there. It’s a wonderful museum. The Frick Collection is another NYC fave.

  14. November 21, 2016 / 9:37 pm

    I try to calendar in an art gallery/museum every couple of months as we have a thriving art scene here in L.A. The downtown art district is amazing and inspiring, and there seems to be art gallery show openings just about every week somewhere around the city. As far as museums are concerned, there is the Huntington, and the wonderful impressionists at the Norton Simon. Was recently at the Museum of Contemporary Art after a long absence and was surprised how much I enjoyed it. And, of course, there is the fairly new Broad. Didn’t care for the art but loved the architecture. Let’s not forget the Los Angeles County Art Museum, The Getty, and The Getty Villa, plus so many lessor known venues.

    As far as clothes are concerned, I would not wear jeans to any of the above. I only wear jeans (no holes) on errands such as the grocery store, picking books up at the library, taking the cat to the vet, etc. But, everyone must choose what they think appropriate and comfortable..

    • Susan B
      November 22, 2016 / 2:17 pm

      Hi Caroline, we do have so many wonderful museums! I probably would dress up a bit more for a museum as opposed to a small independent gallery visit.

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