Broadway Dress Code Decoded: Go Big or Go Home

Broadway, NYC. How to dress for the theater.A record 56.4 million visitors arrived in New York City in 2014, surpassing the previous record of 54.3 million visitors set in 2013. New Yorkers complaining about non-New Yorkers is nothing new.

But New Yorkers, specifically columnists and fashionistas, have staged a revolt against poorly dressed tourists visiting museums and theaters. And while websites urge patrons to “come casual” and “dress warm because it will be freezing inside,” some feel it’s simple theater etiquette.

With ticket prices higher than they’ve ever been, make going to see a production an event. It’s time to take back Broadway and show New York that fashionable and tourist can go together. Here are four outfit ideas inspired by some memorable musicals on Broadway. You’ll look so fashion-forward you might even be mistaken for a local.

Book of Mormon

Get all done up with outfit inspiration from the socially conscious class clowns Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the masterminds behind South Park, Team America, and one of the most successful musicals of all time, Book of Mormon. Go classy with gender-bending menswear; a crisp white shirt with a perfectly tailored black blazer. Count on black cigarette pants to look chic. Add a skinny tie, black boots, or designer loafers to complete this minimalist look. And may we recommend the always sexy cat eye (when applied properly), and red lipstick for some extra dramatic effect? This is the theater, after all.

School of Rock

Perhaps you’ll recall that comedy featuring Jack Black and a bunch of talented but stifled prep school kids? calls this Broadway remake one of the 10 best of the year! Keep your rock and roll look from going too grunge by adding metallic accessories to a pairing of classic skinny jeans and biker jacket. A simple top knot says cool and edgy, but with class and effort. Biker or riding boots are applicable here, but keep accessories luxe to maintain balance.


It may be tempting to go full-on fairytale sequined for this one, or to channel your inner Stevie Nicks. Instead keep it cool with a classic Little Black Dress—sheer black tights with short hemlines are the look this winter. Try pairing your outfit with a stylish throwback, over-sized coat, or a well-fitted, classy three-quarter length, no in-betweens here. Either way, find a coat that makes a bold statement. Try dramatic lashes for this look, and don’t forget a structured, luxury tote to seal the deal. Everyone else will be in the signature red lipstick, wicked-witch style, so you’ll want to skip that. Avoid a clichéd hat, but a glam hairpin and pin curls wouldn’t be too much.

Jersey Boys

Break out your best cocktail dress for this upbeat number. And dare we say, gloves? If there’s ever an occasion for a grown woman to wear fancy gloves, it’s her wedding and the theater. A cropped jacket keeps the look from getting too formal. Maybe the best part about the theater — it’s a formal event that doesn’t require a lot of standing, so break out your less-than-comfy but oh-so-killer heels for the occasion.

About The Author

Editorial Director

Janelle Watkins is a citizen of the world who has lived both a charmed and stormy life. She has worked as a personal shopper, journalist, has done extensive work in marketing communications, and public relations. These experiences have seen her working alongside prominent leaders from the fashion, culinary, art and media worlds. This bon vivant would like to add some flair to her readers’ lives and loves to get their feedback. On everyday life she sums up, “Live life in your own style, be true to yourself – be distinct.” Favourite place in Toronto: Strolling around the Yonge/Eglinton and Mt. Pleasant Village neighbourhoods with a David’s Tea and two special little someones.

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