What To Wear To A Broadway Show

Broadway doesn’t have a specific dress code anymore. In fact, there isn’t even one set policy.

People come in jeans, tuxes, suits, dresses, skirts, heels, sneakers, flip flops (ok, maybe not flip flops!), whatever makes them feel comfortable.

And no matter what you wear, if you’ve got tickets, they’ll let you in the door, says Michael Kors, president of MKNY.

But that doesn’t mean you should show up dressed like you’ve just rolled out of bed. There are several things to keep in mind when planning your outfit. Here are his tips.

Dress appropriately for the venue. If you’re attending a musical, don’t wear something too casual, such as shorts and sandals.

What To Wear To A Broadway Show

You want to look polished and put together. For a play, you could stick to black pants, white shirts, dark blazers and solid colors.

For a concert, perhaps opt for dark denim, light colored trousers, jackets and boots.

Don’t forget about accessories. A great pair of shoes can take an ensemble from good to great. Also, accessorize with jewelry – whether it’s a watch, ring, necklace or bracelet.

Keep it simple. If you’re wearing a lot of stuff, you’re probably overdoing it

Of course the above are only suggestions and as we’ve said there are no hard and fast rules. Let’s look at Broadway attire in a bit more detail. 

Specific Attire For Specific Shows

There are many different types of theater experiences out there.

From Broadway musicals to off-Broadway plays, live performances, and even YouTube videos, there are plenty of ways to see a play.

While most people know about traditional theaters like Broadway there are still lots of great opportunities to enjoy live theater without having to spend thousands of dollars per ticket or invest in expensive clothing. 

Even though there aren’t any hard and fast rules, there are some general guidelines that apply across the board.

Most theaters don’t care what you wear, as long as it’s comfortable and doesn’t obstruct the view.

However, there are some venues where you’ll want to make sure you look good while enjoying the performance.

Other times, the venue itself may dictate how you dress. If you’re attending a performance at Lincoln Center, for example, you might want to wear something appropriate for the venue.

A formal event such as a gala or fashion show may call for special attire. Even if you’re just attending a regular production, you may want to dress up a little bit to fit in with the crowd.

In short, you can wear whatever you want to a show, as long as it fits the occasion and isn’t distracting.


If you’re attending cinema on Broadway then wearing a costume is generally acceptable, and there are certain films that attract fans that show up in costumes inspired by the film’s character.

However, wearing an elaborate costume that looks like it belongs ON  the stage rather than on an audience member is off-putting for those around you.

Theatergoers have been known to dress up for performances, though most people opt for something simple and appropriate.

There’s no rule against dressing up, but there are exceptions. For example, you’re not supposed to wear a costume that covers your face or body.

You shouldn’t wear anything that might distract others from watching the performance.

And if you’re attending a live event, such as a musical concert, don’t wear anything that could make others feel uncomfortable.

Theater etiquette is different from regular social conventions because it involves sitting still for a long time.

While you might think a tuxedo makes you look like a dapper gentleman, wearing one can actually make you feel uncomfortable.

Opt for something simple—a solid color shirt paired with jeans works just fine .

Choose comfort over fashion when it comes to choosing clothing for the theater.

A good rule of thumb is to go with what feels most comfortable when sitting down. A  great pair of shoes is also essential. 

Time Of Show

Time Of Show

Broadway is known for being an expensive place to go out to eat, drink, shop, and see a show so it’s understandable if you’re concerned about what to wear.

If you’re attending shows at different times here are some tips on how to dress for the occasion.


When you’re deciding what to bring to a Broadway matinee, keep one thing in your head: Afternoon performances are usually less formal than evening ones. 

In the summer, you’ll find lots of sundresses, beachy tops, and sandals. In the winter, people typically wear sweaters with jeans or nice boots.

And there’s no rule against wearing a sweater and a scarf too.

As you’re choosing outfits that work well with the Broadway casual dress codes, ask yourself this question. Would I feel comfortable going to a nice restaurant? If the answer is yes — you’re fine to go!

Evening Shows

You might think that the theater is dark and gloomy and clothing doesn’t matter at all but the truth is that most theaters are bright and airy.

This means you will be seen. Again, depending on the specific show evening shows require a more formal attire, such as suits, dresses, and heels.

Time Of Year

Broadway Shows come in many shapes and sizes, and whether you’re visiting during the spring, fall, or winter, there are plenty of things to consider.

For example, if you’re visiting during the summer, you might want to think about wearing lighter clothing. This way, you don’t feel overly hot while standing around waiting for the show to start.

If you’re visiting in the colder months, you might want to keep an eye out for coats.

However, many theaters aren’t air conditioned, so you’ll want something that allows you to move freely without getting sweaty.


What to wear to a Broadway show depends on where you’re coming from, what time of year it is, and what kind of show you’re seeing.

But no matter what, you should always be comfortable when you step foot inside a Broadway theater.

Willa Price