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Orchestra Musicians Finally Get an Alternative to Traditional Tuxedo Shirts

They're betting on a new formal wear line created by a violinist.
The National Symphony Orchestra's violins and cellos at a performance in January 2015. It can get hot up there! Photo by Scott Suchman.

Steven Wilson is tired of wearing stiff tuxedo shirts on stage. And the National Symphony Orchestra bassoonist isn’t alone. He says many male musicians struggle with wearing uncomfortable clothes during performances. “It’s just not very comfortable,” he explains, “to play these very demanding instruments, in a range of conditions, wearing clothing that is not all designed for that purpose.”

So when he read about Coregami–a new type of tuxedo shirt designed for musicians that looks like formal wear but breathes like a Lululemon tee–in the New York Times, he joined the long list of performers from across the country who have preordered the $119.99 shirt. Developed by Kevin Yu, a violinist and businessman from Dallas, Coregami is its very own category of formal wear: They’re calling it “performal.”

The brand promises to keep musicians “cool as a cat all night long,” with a soft, stretchy, moisture-wicking fabric that helps to manage body temperature and draws sweat. (It can get pretty hot on stage.) The biggest perk: Shirts are machine-washable and don’t require dry-cleaning.

Wilson will have to wait until his new shirt arrives in November. (Coregami sold out of its first stock of 300 shirts in only nine days.) For the bassoonist, the shirt’s success hinges on its ability to hold up to repeated wearing and washing. “I’m mostly interested to see how the collar and the front pleats hold their shape,” he says.

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