9 Outfit Ideas You Can wear to a Broadway Show

Nowadays, when you mention the word Broadway, people immediately associate it with theatre and live plays. That word has become symbolic with the theatre industry. Broadway in Manhattan, NY is known widely as the heart of the American commercial theatrical industry, and is used as a metonym for it, as well as in the names of alternative theatrical ventures such as Off-Broadway and Off-off-Broadway.(Wikipedia)

Although currently the name of the street is simply “Broadway”, in a 1776 map of New York City, it is labeled as “Broadway Street”. Broadway is where all the biggest plays and theatres come to or wish they come to, to make their grand debut. Watching a live show or play on Broadway is a big flex.

I was bout 7 or 8 years old the first time I watched a theatre show at one of the Broadway theaters. It was a matinee show of The Nutcracker and I attended it with my class for a field trip. I can still remember being in awe of the talent, the atmosphere, and the red velvet chairs. That was the fanciest field trip I ever went on in New York City.

Today, you don’t have to literally head to Broadway Street to catch a musical or play. Your own city probably has an art theatre hosting what are now called Broadway shows, although they are not taking place on Broadway itself. That’s just how they have come to be known as, given the influence Broadway Street has had on the theatrical industry.

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In today’s blog post, I would be going over some great outfit ideas you can consider wearing to either a Broadway show or any other theatrical performance you may be attending in your city. The Broadway dress code stays the same, even if you are not physically on Broadway Street. I would be giving you options for both evening performances as well as matinee shows.

Baring in mind that most people reading this post live in regions that experience winter and summer, I would be including looks you can pull off during the colder months as well. Your broadway outfits don’t have to take a hit just because it’s cold outside. If you want to know the best way to dress up to catch a theatre or play, keep reading.

The good news is that there is no official dress code when it comes to attending a theatrical performance. There are some clothing items that are more appropriate than others and we would be covering that in today’s post. Generally, you want to be in between a smart casual look and a business casual one.

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*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links, at no cost to you.

Before we dive into what to wear, let’s go over some fashion no-no’s when headed to the theatre. Here are examples of what NOT to wear:

– Short shorts (those are way too casual)

– Baseball caps or other hats (they are not only inappropriate but could also block the person behind you

– Flip flops

– Bandanas or handkerchiefs tied on the head or neck

– Clothing with cut outs

– Clothing with offensive graphics or text

Now that you have a pretty good idea of what to stay away from, let’s go over the clothing that you can actually wear to catch a show. Whether this is your first show or your hundredth, anyone can use a style guide every now and then.

What to wear to a Broadway show or other theatrical play

1) Jeans + a nice top

As mentioned in my post 7 Tops to Wear With Dark Blue Jeans, dark denim is considered the most formal shade of denim. It can be worn to work on Casual Friday or if your office has a smart casual dress code. This makes them the more appropriate choice to wear to a matinee broadway show.

Get the look HERE

You could pair your dark jeans with a button-down shirt for some smart casual attire or you could opt for a v-neck white shirt. During the cold months, add a black leather jacket or a longline coat and a pair of ankle boots to complete your look. A pair of comfortable shoes is a good idea if you plan on walking around Times Square.

During the warmer months, why not try THESE pastel pink jeans to add a pop of color to your look?

2) Little black dress

The little black dress always seems to make its way to my outfit ideas lists. It makes sense because of how easy it is to style one for any occasion. You can wear your favorite midi or knee-length black dress to catch a screening of The Lion King on Broadway or in your hometown. Throw on a pair of dress shoes such as low-heeled pumps or loafers if this is a special occasion such as date night.

Get the look HERE

You can add a scarf in an interesting print across your shoulders or around your neck if it’s a little cold outside. Add a pir of black tights as well if you’re dressing up during the winter months. A pair of tall boots is a good option if your black dress is shorter in length. Ballet flats are a good choice if you want to look chic but don’t feel like slipping on a pair of heels.

3) Chic midi dress

If you are looking for formal attire to wear for opening night of Phantom of the Opera, here’s a great idea. A midi dress is long enough to be formal yet short enough for you to move around easily in. It’s one of those dresses you can wear to a cocktail event and then hop on the subway train right after, like a native New Yorker.

Get the look HERE

Midi dresses can also be worn any time of day thanks to their semi-formal design. Choose a midi dress in a dark color if you want to appear slimmer. If a red carpet is involved, you need to throw on a pair of high heels for the cameras. Complete your look with a small purse and you’re ready to attend your evening or matinee broadway show.

4) Dress pants and a button-up shirt

Another great way to show up to a theatre play or live show is to pair one of your dress pants with a button-up shirt. This is great option if you’re headed straight from work to the theatre and would not have time to change. Choose a pair of pants in a color that compliments your skin tone.

Get the look HERE

Complete this look with a pair of flats or flat sandals during the summer months. During the winter months, replace them with ankle boots or mid calf boots to maintain the beauty of your pants. You could also add a cardigan on top of your dress shirt during the cold months.

5) Blouse and skirt

Pair a nice blouse with one of your longer skirts to create a chic feminine look. During the warmer months, play around with different colors of tops and blouses to make your outfit reflect your personality. Skirts that are knee-length or longer are typically more appropriate however you can wear a shorter skirt with a pair of tights underneath.

Get the look HERE

This is also an outfit you can wear if there is a more formal dress code being enforced by the theatre. You could also rock it straight from the office to the theater district. Pleated skirts and midi pencil skirts are typically considered more formal skirts. Complete your look with a pair of heels or flats in the color of your choice.

6) Jeans and blazer

Whenever there is no set dress code for an event, a pair of dark wash jeans paired with a blazer is always the perfect outfit. Choose a shirt or blouse in a neutral color if your blazer is in a bright color or features a busy print. Unless of course you wish to show off your personal style and character by going with a shirt in a bright color. You also get to wear a tank top underneath if you prefer that.

Get the look HERE

What’s great about this outfit choice is that you can complete it with casual shoes or dressy ones. A pair of white sneakers could be worn for a casual outing during the warmer months. Formal shoes with a small heel could also be worn to make your outfit dressier. You can also replace your pants with a pair of culottes during the warmer weather.

7) Maxi skirt + a top or sweater

Maxi and midi skirts are both good options to go with when putting together an outfit for your first time at a broadway theatre. The longer length keeps things conservative yet stylish if that’s your style preference. Pleated skirts in neutral colors are great options for women who are concerned about their weight.

Get the look HERE

During the winter months, the best way to style this look is with a chunky knit sweater and a pair ankle boots. You could also choose a fitted sweater if you intend to layer it with a jacket or cardigan. Free to add a pair of leggings under your maxi skirt for an extra layer of warmth.

8) A wrap dress

Wrap dresses are the most flattering style of dresses out there. Probably the best thing to emerge from the fashion industry in the last century. This is because a single wrap dress can fit multiple sizes, cinches in the waist and hides any belly fat you wish to hide. If these are all things you are looking for in your broadway outfit, the this is the best option for you.

Get the look HERE

Choose a wrap dress in your favorite color or print to feel most comfortable. This is also a great option if you’re headed to a nice restaurant before or after your show. Your food belly would be nicely hidden under your wrap dress and you would stay looking stylish. Complete your look with a pair of high heels or flats.

Read up more on the invention of the wrap dress as well as more ways to style them on my post: 6 Chic Ways to Wear a Wrap Dress.

9) Sweater Dress

Here’s another great option to go with during the cold months. A midi sweater dress in a light color is the perfect choice to go with when you have daytime shows to attend during the winter. Choose a sweater dress in a dark color for a more formal outfit.

Get the look HERE

I hope you have gotten outfit ideas you can rock to Broadway shows whether they are daytime shows or evening ones. Remember that you do not have to wait for a big trip to the big apple before attending your first theatrical show. I have tried to include outfits for different seasons as well as different style preferences.

The most important thing is to have a great time and support the arts. Just don’t show up in yoga pants and a crop top, ok?

Do check out my post: 7 Outfits to Wear for a Presentation for some more outfit inspiration you can use.

I also have a post: What to Wear to a Museum. You would find that the outfit ideas are pretty similar to the ones in this post.

If you’re headed to a Broadway show during the winter, you should check out my post 8+ Outfits to Wear to a Winter Broadway Show.

Until the next post,