How to Dress for a Broadway Show

By Hallie Engel
Broadway includes more than  40 theaters.

Seeing a Broadway show is the highlight of many trips to New York City and the bright lights of the Great White Way offer something for everyone. Most theaters don't enforce a dress code, but if you look your best, you'll join a grand tradition of wearing your finest for a night on the town. If you'll be enjoying dinner before or after the performance, make sure your outfit is appropriate for the restaurant as well.

Looks for Women

Feel free to put on that cocktail dress for Broadway, even though you may sit next to someone in jeans and a T-shirt. For a more relaxed but stylish look, pull on a pair of skinny jeans and a flowing top. Add a pair of flats and you’ll look elegant but feel comfortable. If you're going to a matinee, feel free to tone things down, as daytime shows are much more casual.

Men's Clothing

Men holding a ticket to a Broadway show should take some advice from "GQ" and avoid the typical tourist outfit. Ditch the shorts, fanny packs and hiking sandals, and dress up, even if it's just a little. A pair of slacks with a button-up shirt and leather shoes are appropriate -- and will have you looking better than many of your fellow theater-goers. A nice sweater works, too, as does a polo shirt, but make sure it’s ironed.

Bringing Kids to Broadway

Many Broadway shows welcome -- and feature -- children, so get them dressed and bring them along. Casual attire – jeans and T-shirts -- is fine for kids, although a dress or suit is OK. A first trip to New York City or a holiday outing might call for dressier attire. Whatever they wear, ensure that the kids are comfortable enough to relax and enjoy the show.

Special Considerations

Adults and children alike should bring a cardigan or light coat to a Broadway show even in summer, as most theaters are air-conditioned and can be quite chilly. If you're attending the opening night of a new production, dress to the nines. Such events are typically formal affairs and you may even spot a few celebs in attendance. Black tie would not out of place, according to fashion blogger George Hahn.

About the Author

Hallie Engel is a food and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in several international publications. She served as a restaurant critic for "Time Out Abu Dhabi" and "Time Out Amsterdam" and has also written about food culture in the United Arab Emirates for "M Magazine." She holds a bachelor's degree in communications and film studies from University of Amsterdam.