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What to Wear To A Broadway Show

Updated: November 16, 2023
 By Courtney

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!

And be sure to check out our post on what's playing on Broadway now.

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 Broadway theaters, you’ll see women in classic cocktail dresses and heels, as well as women who wear jeans, t-shirts, and casual shoes.

It’s the same case for men. Some may wear slacks, a button-down shirt, and loafers. Others wear dress pants and jackets while some may go for full formal attire in suits and cufflinks.

Nobody will be wearing a tuxedo or tiara, though you never know!

wicked Audience
Suits and Baseball Hats at Wicked

Because there is no dress code, there are no judgments!

Whether you dress casually, in business casual, 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. Hey, it's New York City!

But there are some limits to what your fellow theatergoers will tolerate. Use your common sense.

Smelly sneakers or flip-flops are a no. Tank tops are not unheard of, but Broadway theaters are air-conditioned in the summer so dress in layers and bring a sweater.

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 summer weekend matinees or daytime showings, nice shorts are fine. For the evening show, better to wear pants.

Technically, cargo shorts and cut-off jean shorts are allowed, but the fashion police won't like them.

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 white wigs!

For more serious musicals or plays, 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

Serious plays can be high-brow, so smart casual attire would be a nice choice.

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.

Still, for the best Broadway shows and musicals, people dress as they feel fit. You should do the same.

As for kids, if they want to dress up as their favorite show characters, by all means, let them!

Some Tips When Choosing Your Broadway Outfit

1. Dress appropriately in the colder months, especially January and February, say during Broadway 2 for 1 Week, as you will be spending some time outside.

First, you will be outdoors when you line up to enter the show. After the show, if you are looking to get a taxi, you'll have a long and chilly wait. (Tip: Use an Uber!)

Average Temperature in NYC in February
Average Temperature in NYC in February

Your outerwear for the cold weather should include a down coat or heavy jacket, gloves, a scarf, and warm boots or shoes.

2. Don’t wear something you don’t feel good about. (Ladies, you may have been waiting for an occasion to wear your favorite little black dress, but if it's too tight, you’ll have a hard time enjoying the show).

3. To strike a happy medium, wear nice, comfortable clothes. Men, slacks, and a button-up shirt will do fine. Women, you can't go wrong in a skirt and a pretty blouse.

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 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: November 16th, 2023
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