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What to Wear To A Broadway Show

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You’ve got tickets to the Broadway show you dreamed of seeing. Now the question pops into your mind, “What do I wear to a Broadway show?” Read on to find out!


Is There A Dress Code For Broadway Shows?

No! You are free to wear almost anything you want. (See What Not To Wear below). 

At the theater, you’ll see women in cocktail dresses and pearls as well as women in jeans and t-shirts. 

It’s the same case for men. Some may have on khakis and polo shirts while others will be wearing suits and cufflinks. It will be rare to encounter a tuxedo though. 

wicked Audience
Suits and Baseball Hats at Wicked

Because there is no dress code, there are no judgments! Whether you dress casually or get dressed up, you will fit right in. 

There is one exception. We highly recommend that you dress up for the opening night of a Broadway show. This is a special occasion for the performers and can be for you too! 

With many others wearing their best outfits for opening night on Broadway, you may feel out of place if you aren't at least a bit decked out. Still, there are no “musts”.


What Not To Wear

In theory, you can wear anything you want. But there are some limits to what your fellow theatergoers will tolerate.

Smelly sneakers or flip-flops are a no. Bathing suits? Um, no. Extremely sheer clothes? Unless you want to “steal the show”, opt for something else.

Don’t wear a big hat that might block others’ view. 

Hamilton Dress Code
A very casual crowd for a Hamilton

Some people ask if it’s ok to wear shorts to Broadway. Depending on the season, the length of the shorts and the time of the show, it’s not a terrible thing to do. 

For a summer matinee, nice shorts are fine. Technically, cargo shorts and cut-off jean shorts are allowed, but the fashion police won't like them.

Don’t wear something you don’t feel good in. That dress or suit may look nice, but if it is too tight, you’ll have a hard time enjoying the show.


What To Wear To Certain Broadway Shows

If you are seeing Hamilton, you’ll be amongst a lively lot. Don’t wear something stuffy. You want to feel free to enjoy the spirit of this musical. Men, do not come dressed in britches and a white wig.

For Phantom of the Opera, why not go upscale? Ever-so-slightly formal evening wear will fit the mood and make you feel part of the show.

Phantom of The Opera Dress Code
Dressed up for Phantom of the Opera

If you are wondering if what you should wear to a musical is different than what you should wear to a play, it's entirely up to you.

Musicals are festive and it might be fun for you to wear a festive outfit. Serious plays can be high-brow, so smart casual attire would be a nice choice.


How To Get Cheap Tickets To A Broadway Show

There are many ways you can score discount tickets for shows, even for the most popular shows like the Lion King and Wicked.

It's even possible to get $10 tickets to Hamilton.

For big savings, read our in-depth post on How to Get Cheap Broadway Tickets.

About The Author

Courtney

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.
Updated: October 10th, 2022
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