Theater Dress Code

What to wear to the theater can vary depending on the location and audience of the venue.  A community play on a Sunday afternoon could be utterly casual, while a set of hundred-dollar tickets to an upper-crust premiere could be quite dressy indeed.  Regardless, the ethos of theater dress is basically being classy but not necessarily sexy.

For the ladies

Go for fashionable but conservative — a dress that’s knee-length or longer, or dressy (not tight) pants and an elegant top.  If it’s daytime, you can wear bright colors and wool blends; after 6pm, you’ll want darker colors and fabrics that are a little more polished. Theater Dress Code

For the guys

If you’re seeing a Broadway show or another upscale performance after 6pm, you’ll want to wear a suit and tie.  If it’s more casual, or in the daytime, something artistic-chic could also work: a slate grey dress shirt or an elegant silk sweater, for example, with nice trousers and dress shoes.

Rules of Thumb

  • Ladies, you can wear colorful, artistic-looking (but not flashy) jewelry to casual or daytime performances.  For dressier or evening shows, opt for formal jewelry, such as simple gold or silver pieces.
  • Make sure not to wear clothing or jewelry that will make noise, such as bangles, charm bracelets, or stiff fabrics.  You want to make sure not to disturb others while shifting in your seat.
  • For the same reason, keep perfume or cologne to a modest amount.
  • For all but the most casual venues, moderately formal outerwear would be a good choice: a long wool coat and chic scarf for both men and women, if outerwear is needed.
  • Dress in layers, since you can’t predict how hot or drafty it might be inside the theater.