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What to Wear to a Broadway Show: Broadway Dress Code?

December 30, 2019
what to wear to a Broadway Show

Let’s Talk: What to Wear to a Broadway Show

“Who cares what they’re wearing on Main Street or Saville Row. It’s what you wear from ear to ear and not from head to toe that matters!” While Bert Healy in the musical “Annie” makes an excellent point — attitude over attire — that doesn’t exactly mean we should neglect our outer appearance entirely! I personally am more confident when dressed appropriately for the occasion. And while people do make the argument that it doesn’t matter what you wear to a Broadway show because you will be seated in a dark theater for the majority of the time, it doesn’t hurt to feel good about yourself and show respect to the cast and crew who put on the production.

But no judgements here if your Broadway outfit isn’t perfect! It’s New York after all. I told my mom that I was writing this post and she reminded me that she went in sweats to a Broadway show once because her flight was so delayed, she had to go straight from the hotel to the theater in “plane clothes” so as not to miss the production. With all that said, assuming you don’t have any plane mishaps, let’s discuss what exactly is most appropriate to wear to a Broadway show.

Broadway New York City

We have all seen the gradual decline of business attire into a much more casual dress code whether that be in a corporate setting or while on a flight. Very few people wear suits on airplanes anymore unless they are going straight to a business meeting after landing. Instead, we don joggers, Nikes and an oversized tee to maximize our comfort while flying. Streetwear has officially become chic. While there is still a level of formality to uphold when attending a Broadway show, we have also seen a shift in Broadway dress from business to smart casual attire in the theater.

What To Wear To A Musical

Think: what you would wear for a Saturday night date night or if it is a matinee, then an outfit appropriate for a Mother’s Day brunch.



There are a few factors to take into consideration when planning your Broadway show attire.

Will you be coming to the show straight from a day of sightseeing?

New York is a vibrant city with an endless list of things to do. Whether this is your first or seventeenth time visiting, I’m guessing your day will be pretty stacked. It’s also a city with major congestion, so it takes much longer than expected to go anywhere. I almost missed the beginning of Hamilton because we didn’t print out our tickets ahead of time and traffic at 6 PM in midtown is hectic to put it mildly. So while I absolutely recommend a quick pitstop at your hotel before the show to recuperate from a crazed day of attraction hopping, if a brief respite is not in the cards for you, plan on wearing clothes that serve a dual-purpose. Instead of wearing ripped jeans out for the day, choose a pair of crisp black jeans. If it is summer time, leave the Levi high-waisted shorts for another day and wear a midiskirt or dress instead. For men, khaki pants or dark jeans and a collared or golf shirt work perfectly for matinees. At night, dark jeans or slacks and a button-down shirt is appropriate with casual shoes like Clarks, not tennis shoes.


Read More: New York City Itinerary for Repeat Visitors

What time of year are you attending the show?

In the wintertime, you will be wearing so many layers, that it won’t really even matter what you wear underneath. I typically wear black jeans with a whole assortment of layered tops starting with a thin tank, sweater, fleece, down jacket, and accessories including a scarf, gloves, and beanie. I generally strip down to the sweater at my seat, so I will make sure to choose one of my best. For men, an undershirt, sweater, coat and scarf with dark jeans would be a great ensemble for the show.

Read More: Winter Packing List: What to Wear in New York City



You would expect that layers-wise, you would be off-the-hook in the summer due to the excessive heat, but with lots of humidity comes high-powered air conditioning. It can get quite chilly in the theater, so I recommend that ladies bring a wrap to cover your legs and a cardigan sweater to keep warm during the show.

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Let’s talk about the absolute worst aspect of a Broadway show…the cramped, narrow theater seats. Could anything be less comfortable when you’re sitting on your butt for almost three hours? Well, a flight from New York to Australia in Economy would have it beat, but not much else. With that said, a minidress or short shorts probably isn’t your best choice of attire. For my ladies with restless legs in the summertime, wear a jumpsuit made of light materials. That way you can move your legs in any direction you choose and not have to worry about flashing anyone.

What to Wear to a Broadway Show

Is Standing Room Only A Possibility?

Heels might seem like a good idea from the confines of your hotel room, but if you do plan on wearing a pair, you probably want to make sure you are taking a taxi or an uber and not the subway. And, if there is even the slightest possibility that you will purchase standing room only tickets (SRO), then make sure you are wearing flat shoes or flat sandals for the show.

Read More: What Shoes to Wear in New York Winter


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Are you on Pinterest? Pin this Broadway Dress Code guide for later!

what to wear to a broadway show

Have you been to the theater before? What do you wear to a Broadway show? Let us know in the comments below! And remember, you’re never fully dressed without a smile 🙂 



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