What to Wear to a Broadway Musical

Actress Lilly Rabe hits Broadway in a tailored coat and tights.

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Scoring tickets to a Broadway musical is only half the battle: Once you've snagged your seat, your next mission is to figure out what to wear. Luckily, dress codes aren't as stiff as they used to be, so you won't get thrown out for showing up in your favorite pair of jeans. On the other hand, you're in New York, baby -- why not dress up?

Dress Codes

Back in the day, theatergoers would get seriously gussied up to attend Broadway musicals, but these days the style etiquette is way more relaxed. There's no official dress code for Broadway shows anymore, and you'll probably see a little bit of everything, from jeans and sneakers to fancy dresses. That means you're free to wear basically whatever your thespian-loving heart desires. Opening night events are generally a little fancier, and you'll see plenty of tuxedos and fancy dresses, but other than that it's pretty much a free for all. If you're going to a matinee musical you'll probably want to ditch the evening gown and stay more casual, but remember that it's still Broadway. Save your sloppy duds for laundry day -- wear a cute daytime dress or jeans and a blouse instead.

Business Casual

Broadway.com suggests sporting "casual business wear," which is dressy but not too dressy. This doesn't mean you should wear the stuffy power suit you'd wear to a job interview -- think more along the lines of what you'd wear to an office party. Think stylish and put together, but not dripping with glamor. A pair of tailored pants and a button-up blouse fit the part, or for a more feminine look slip on a knee-length skirt and a shiny satin blouse.

Dressing Up

Just because Broadway fashion is a little more relaxed these days doesn't mean you can't get dolled up to go see a Broadway musical. It's a special occasion, so why not dress for it? We're talking about the fashionable Big Apple after all, so you certainly won't be the only ticket holder taking in a show in an uber-stylish ensemble. Go on and wear something pretty. Break out that gorgeous dress you only get to wear to weddings. Wear your good diamonds. And slip on your most awesome pair of heels -- since you'll be sitting down, you won't have to worry about sore feet.

Staying Comfortable

Don't forget to take your comfort into account when planning your wardrobe. You want to be able to concentrate on the show, not get preoccupied by your outfit. Since you're going to be lounging in a seat for an extended period of time, you'll probably want to avoid super-tight, constricting clothing. Pick an outfit with plenty of wiggle room so you can shift around and keep the blood flowing. And don't go too skimpy. Broadway venues like to blast the AC, which means you'll freeze your tush off in a mini dress. Just in case, bring along a coat, sweater or a wrap that you can cozy up in when you feel the chill.

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