I can’t claim the title of gallery owner or even full-time art historian, but I can say that I’ve spent my fair share of time gallivanting about galleries around the world. And while there aren’t general guidelines on what to wear per se, there are a few unspoken tips every art and fashion lover swears by.
Do: Research Your Gallery’s Dress Code Beforehand
While most museums don’t have strict dress codes, some exhibitions may prohibit hats, large bags, or specific footwear, so you’ll want to check the site beforehand.
Don’t: Opt for Uncomfortable Footwear
We all want to look cute, but trust me when I say walking around for a few hours in uncomfortable shoes is not worth it. Either wear chic closed-toe shoes like loafers or ballet flats or a pair of heels you know you can walk in without dragging your feet in the galleries.
Do: Wear Pieces You Can Layer
It may seem obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed the rookie mistake of visitors not planning their ensembles based on the weather and their physical preferences. If you get cold easily, having a trench coat or cardigan on hand is a must.
Don’t: Wear Anything Too Risqué
Everyone’s definition of “risqué” may be different, but you’ll typically want to think about the timing and crowd that will be browsing the gallery at the same time before slipping into skin-baring pieces. For example, if you’re visiting a museum in the middle of a school day, it might not be the ideal time to bust out a cutout dress, but if you’re attending a cocktail party celebrating a gallery opening, that’s a whole other thing. It’s not wrong to show a little skin—just make sure you balance it with styling, timing, and self-awareness.
Do: Show Off Your Style
There’s a large misconception that you must dress a particular way to visit art galleries (e.g., either super formal or very “touristy”), but that’s not the case. Like art, there’s beauty in everything being different, so why wouldn’t you show off your style? Going to an exhibit is the perfect chance to put your own work (yes, I’m talking about outfits) out there. At the end of the day, wearing something you feel comfortable in is the key to looking great. But should you still need a little inspiration, keep scrolling. I’ve rounded up a few outfit ideas and shopped out the key pieces needed to re-create the looks for yourself.