Not sure what to wear to a Broadway show?
We asked experts to share some fantastic tips.
Table of Contents
Eric Lee Edmonson
Fashion Blogger, The ELE Code | Style Coach
There are many different things you can wear since there is not really a dress code when going to a Broadway show.
It all depends on a person’s own style personality and age
For the most part, people aren’t getting dressed up to go to Broadway as they depict on TV and Movies. People from out of town may get dressed up when going just because they feel like based on TV/Movies, that is what you are supposed to do.
Weekday shows people who are local may dress up because they are coming straight from work so it’s like an after-work affair type thing. Maybe if you taking someone or going on a date, you would dress up a little but you’re not dressing up like going to Vanity Fair Oscar after-party or at least that is not normal.
If you did want to dress up, this is not something you would pull out your sexiest clubwear attire for.
Women may opt to wear a simple bodycon dress, wrap-around dress or maybe even a maxi-dress dependant on the season. They may pair their dress with a sandal or stiletto or a simple flat shoe. Men may wear a blazer with a button-down shirt under it with some jeans with an oxford or loafer shoe.
Of course, if you are going to an opening or closing show wear a red carpet is present, dressing up is more than likely going to be expected or required.
In that case, you would pull out a gown or cocktail dress for the ladies. Men, of course, may opt for a tuxedo for these type of events on Broadway.
If you want to keep it casual, a jean and button-down shirt is fine. In the summer months, you may see more people wearing shorts and tees. Women may opt to wear a blouse with some jeans, a cute romper or maybe even sundress.
I do not think however it’s appropriate to wear a muumuu or jogging suit to a Broadway show. I am all about you being comfortable but I think that is a little too much comfortability.
Matinee shows, people aren’t really dressing up. A person dressing up would stick out like a sore thumb and clearly, in my opinion, wants to be seen.
People may bring their kids out during this time for shows and put them in something more dressed up, however mostly it’s pretty casual dress. Again, a tee or shorts or button-up and jeans.
All in all, how you dress to a Broadway show is your call unless a dress code is enforced. Being comfortable is important because you may be sitting for a long period of time. That being rather you dress up or not.
Going to a Broadway show is not like going to the Met Gala, however, it’s not trip to the grocery store either. So being presentable would be my advice, even if the show is going to be dark, still, some effort is appropriate if you ask me.
Personal Stylist | Creator, V-Style
Although American society is becoming more casual, New York is still a dressier city. You may spot a handful of tourist in casual day clothes to a broadway show, but most people respect the theatre and dress as such.
It is not odd to see a man in a suit and women in cocktail dresses, but you will see most people dress up as if they are going to a nice dinner. Men will wear patterned long sleeve button front shirts with slacks and dress shoes while women will wear a nice pant look or party frocks.
Those that do wear jeans will dress them up stylishly with nicer shoes and a shirt. All personal styles are welcome, but the creative effort is essential for a Broadway Show audience.
Event Specialist, Boca Entertainment
I was introduced to Broadway as a child and remember no matter whether we had orchestra seats or Balcony seats, dressing up for the theatre was a requirement. Thirty years later, It pains me to see at least 50% of a typical Broadway audience look like they are dressed to go supermarket shopping.
Theatre is an art, that requires talent and passion so I believe theatre-goers should respect the actors, respect the work process and respect the production, by dressing accordingly.
At a minimum, men should wear slacks, a button-down shirt, and a casual shoe, no sneakers. Women should wear either a dress or slacks paired with a blouse or sweater or jacket. A small heel or boots would work and no sneakers. No jeans, no sweatshirts and no gym clothing.
Broadway should be a night to look forward to, to enjoy and to remember so why not dress like it is going to be a great one.
Social Media influencer & Founder, MVY Living
I remember about a year ago, I saw something on a local news channel that people were caught wearing pajamas to one of the visiting Broadway shows in Boston. I remember thinking, when did this become okay? Can we bring back the golden age of fashion when there was an outfit for every occasion?
But I digress. If one is attending a Broadway show (whether on Broadway or a touring production), I suggest, at the very least, a nice cocktail dress with heels or flats for the women and men should be wearing a nice pair of trousers with a button-up shirt and a sport coat or blazer.
A theatre is an event, and we should dress to match such an event. How often does one get to go to the Theatre? Make it a special occasion, and get dressed up for it, please.
Broadway Theatre Enthusiast
I attend several Broadway shows each year. I used to get dressed up but the majority of theatre-goers dress casually (especially matinees). The seats are very close and my knees touch the back of the seat in front of me. Also, I have to get up and down several times to let people by to get to their seats.
For these reasons, it’s sometimes not conducive to wearing a dress and heels. I now wear casual, but stylish, black pants with comfortable black loafers or flats for walking to and from the show.
In the summer, I’ll pair the pants with a short-sleeve blouse, and in the winter, a classic sweater twin set. Both seasonal outfits can be dressed up with accessories for going out to dinner before or after the show. Simple and classic.