Wondering What to Wear to a Broadway Show? We’ve Got 5 Outfit Ideas That are Totally Foolproof

Give ‘em the ol razzle dazzle

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You’ve got the tickets, you’ve got a dinner reservation and you’ve listened to the soundtrack on repeat for at least two weeks leading up to the performance. Now all that’s left to do is figure out what to wear to a Broadway show. And while it may feel like an intimidating prospect, we promise it’s actually much simpler than you think.

Most Broadway theatres no longer have dress codes, so you can basically wear whatever you’d like. Seriously, you may see people decked out in cocktail dresses and heeled boots sitting right next to folks sporting flip-flops and jeans. That said, there are a number of things you should likely keep in mind when planning your outfit to ensure maximum comfort and style.

A Few General Tips:

  • Comfort is key. There are times when curve-hugging, high-waist skinny jeans are the definite pants to pick—this is absolutely not one of those times. Be sure to choose clothing that’s comfortable to sit in for extended periods without pinching or prodding.
  • Time of day matters. Afternoon matinees and mid-week shows are generally more casual than weekend evening performances.
  • Stick with slimmer coats and jackets. Unless you plan to check your coat, you should expect to have to drape it over your seat in the theater. A giant puffer or colorful faux-fur topper will likely take up a lot of space and may be distracting or uncomfortable during the show, so we suggest opting for slimmer silhouettes or lighter styles to give you ample sitting room.
  • Be ready to remove your cap. Baseball caps, beanies, straw boaters, bucket hats—hats of any and all styles should absolutely be removed while you’re watching a Broadway show. Even if the cap sits snuggly on your head, it can get in the way of the people behind you.

The Top 5 Shows to See On (and Off) Broadway Right Now

what to wear to a broadway show layers
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1. Lots of Layers

Layers are never a bad idea, especially in winter and summer when the temperatures indoors may be drastically different from the weather outside. A blouse plus a pullover knit plus a long cardigan gives you plenty of options to play around with when you get inside so you can find your Goldilocks combination.

what to wear to a broadway show jeans
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2. Loose Jeans and a Fun Blouse

Yes, we poo-pooed the idea of wearing skinny jeans just moments ago, but wide-leg, loose and straight-leg jeans all offer way better range of motion and are, in our opinion, far comfier to sit in for long period of time. Add a flirty blouse, be it white with ruffles, black lace or a sleeveless floral number, and you’ve got yourself a winning combination.

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3. Wide-Leg Pants and a Simple Tee

Another great go-to outfit combination, dressier pants help to balance out a casual cotton T-shirt for a chic-yet-lowkey ensemble that’s also pretty comfy. You can also drape a sweater over your shoulders just in case you get cold in the theatre.

what to wear to a broadway show midi dress
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4. A Midi Dress and Flats

Mini dresses aren’t always so comfortable to sit in, and maxi dresses run the risk of getting caught under your feet as you walk up and down stairs to find your seat. But a midi dress hits that sweet spot right in between. Add a pair of trendy flats to complete your compliment-worthy ‘fit.

what to wear to a broadway show midi skirt
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5. A Midi Skirt and Oversize Knit

Comfy, chic and just the right amount of dressy, this outfit combo works for almost any type of plans, including a Broadway show. It’s comfortable for sitting but will still look polished, and can be made to work for any season—tall boots and a chunkier knit in winter, sleek flats and a cashmere pullover in spring, flat sandals and a matching cardigan set for summer and ankle boots with any sweater you like for fall.

More Tips for What to Wear to a Broadway Show

  • Shorts are fine, but you may be cold. Folks frequently ask if it’s OK to wear shorts to a Broadway show, especially in summer. And while you absolutely can, you may wind up being cold with the A/C.
  • Themed outfits are great fun. Superfans of specific shows will sometimes come dressed as their favorite characters or in theme, so if that’s you feel free to lather on the green face paint and embrace your inner Elphaba. Just be sure your costume doesn’t involve any tall hats or wide wings or anything else that might invade the space of those around you.
  • When in doubt, call ahead. If you’re really concerned, you can absolutely call the theatre to see if they have any specific rules or oddities to consider. Trust us, you won’t be the first (or last) to make such an inquiry.

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Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...

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