Dressing for the ballet or theatre is rather a hot button issue in the recent past. You will see anything from sweatpants to gowns, depending on the show and the audience- where should you fall? If you’ve never attended, I know that it might feel overwhelming or even confusing but I’m here to help! I firmly believe that your wardrobe is an important part of life and can help set the tone for whatever you are doing- the right clothing can help make your theatre experience!
I find that a lot of people argue that theatre dress codes are elitist and serve as a barrier to people attending. However, I don’t believe that it has to be an expensive or overly elaborate outfit. The clothing we wear does make an impact on how we are feeling and what we experience, and the theatre is no different.
Check the Website and Program Beforehand
Some theatre and show sites will list a dress code with suggestions of what to wear (and in some cases, what not to wear)! I would always start there- if there is a true dress code (and not just a suggestion) it will be publicised. You will also be able to get an idea of what kind of show it is. What you would wear to We Will Rock You probably isn’t what you would wear to Madame Butterfly. Take a few seconds and get an idea for what to expect!
If you are anything like me, I usually have to head straight home after work, change quickly, and then head straight out to make sure that I have enough time to get to theatre early! Having what I will be wearing picked out and ready to go makes everything easier. You can steam and iron anything ahead of time, make sure it’s weather appropriate (if that is a concern), and check to see if you are actually comfortable in what you are planning to wear! (That goes double for footwear that you might be deciding to try out for the first time- if you’ve got a lot of walking to do, it might not be the best time to try out those new stilettos, blisters and blood could ruin your experience…)
Enjoy the Excuse to Dress Up
You might have the opportunity to wear the nicer pieces in your wardrobe all of the time, but if you are anything like me, it’s not a daily occurrence! So, when the opportunity comes to maybe wear the dress that mostly lives in your closet or that blouse that is just a little “too much” for work, take it and run with it. I do wear dresses and skirts to work on a daily basis, but usually with flats and very minimal make up- going to the ballet gives me the opportunity to look a little bit nicer, put on actual make up, and throw on some heels! I would argue that everyone needs at least one nice outfit- one that would work for a wedding, or a retirement party, or an evening out. It doesn’t have to be expensive, or even a dress- a suitable blouse and pants (that aren’t jeans or leggings) are perfect!
The way that I like to think about it is that dancers, actors, musicians, stage crew, costumers, directors, and everyone else involved put their heart and soul into creating a production that you could completely immerse yourself in- putting a little effort into what you are wearing to enjoy it! Dress like you plan to make a night of it and get lost in the theatre.