What are folk wearing to the Theatre, Opera, and Symphony in NYC?
March 12, 2018 10:36 PM   Subscribe

Upcoming trip to NYC with tickets to Broadway, The Met, and the Philharmonic. How are audiences dressing for such these days? Out here in the hinterland dress has gone from fairly dressy to the full range of Tux to Jeans and back again. Any guidance would be appreciated.
posted by leafwoman to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Met’s a range I’d say, from nearly casual to quite formal. If you’d wear it to work, you’re fine, and there will always be people dressed to the nines, especially on the opening night of a production, so you can’t overdress. When I was younger I’d wear whatever, and I’d often see a fellow in a leather kilt and a Mr Fire Island 1978 (or something) jacket at opening nights. So I guess what I’m saying is there’s a wide range and I don’t think you’ll feel conspicuous unless you’re dressed markedly casually.

Broadway audiences aren’t generally formal at all. Business causal or whatever. Nobody really dresses up for theater.
posted by Smearcase at 10:54 PM on March 12

You'll see people even in jeans, but, if you want to be fully comfortable, I'd stick to business casual or better for the Met and the orchestra. Black or white tie is only suitable for special events, though.

Broadway, I feel like you could probably wear anything to most shows.
posted by praemunire at 10:54 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]

(I think you'd look a little odd in a tux in the Family Circle, especially for a non-premiere, but maybe that's just me.)
posted by praemunire at 10:56 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]

I think you will feel a little out of place at the symphony and the opera if you are wearing super-casual stuff, and I think you won't look out of place at Broadway if you're a little dressy. So if you're a woman, then I think you'll pass just fine in all three places if you wear a blouse; dark chinos or slacks or dark, slim-fit jeans; and dark shoes. If you need an extra layer, you could wear a cardigan or a nice sweater. If you're a man, replace "blouse" with a dress shirt or a nice button-down. Things to avoid: big white sneakers like these, big clunky sneakers in general, pale wash jeans, wearing a fleece pullover rather than a sweater.

Here's a picture of the New York Philharmonic audience from 2015, which might help give a sense of the general level of dress. If you look up other audience pictures though, be aware that they seem to be pretty heavy on opening-night gala type things where lots of men are in tuxedos and women are in fancy dresses, but that is not the norm for regular concerts.
posted by colfax at 2:49 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]

I don't think it matters what your were to the opera, philharmonic or theater. It's 2018 and those old dress rules do not apply. As long as you're clean and not wearing anything that could scare the horses, go for it.

Years back, I knew a group of guys in NYC who were into the leather scene and were opera Queens. Wednesday eves at the Met you'd see all manner of leather (and Drag!) outfits. No one batted an eye. What fun that was!
posted by james33 at 4:36 AM on March 13 [4 favorites]

I would dress up in your most formal outfit, if you're looking for an occasion to do so. Alternatively, dress down if you have nothing formal. It's all about your own attitude. You will not be alone in whatever you wear. You just need to own it.
posted by h00py at 5:42 AM on March 13

For guys over 30, other than on a special event night, the Met and the Phili is slacks, dress shirt, brown/black shoes, and a sport coat. On a weekday lots of guys will be in suits with no tie, more because they just came from work than because they intentionally dressed up. Ladies of similar age dress equivalently.

Except on opening night, Broadway is anything goes, with possible exception that even in the summer fairly few people seem to wear shorts or skirts to or above the knee.
posted by MattD at 6:25 AM on March 13

I took a trip to NYC just this past weekend to take in four Broadway shows. I was in business casual and felt fine. FWIW, the crowd at Frozen was more casual — a good number in jeans and even some in t-shirts — than the other three more "grown-up" shows I saw.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:00 AM on March 13

Frequent theater goer here. I agree with everyone else that people don't really dress up anymore, and you should wear what's comfortable. I just wanted to add that you should wear layers - sometimes the theaters are chilly (even in the summer with the A/C, depending on where you sit), and, sometimes they're the opposite. So make sure you have a cardigan, light jacket, or something similar that's easy to take on and off.
posted by AMyNameIs at 7:39 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]

To follow up a bit on AMyNameIs' comment above, I often find the Met quite warm, especially in the less expensive seats (heat rises, after all). So, take that into consideration depending on where your seats are and whether you are someone who is more often too cold or too hot. Also, unless you plan to check your coat(s), which can be a bit of a PITA in the Met, consider that multiple layers may end up on your lap.

In any event, average levels of dress at the Met tend to go together with expense of ticket, but some version of "business casual" will suit most anywhere you sit. Same thing with the Phil. Broadway audiences are almost always majority tourist, and levels of dress skew much more casual.
posted by slkinsey at 9:42 AM on March 13

I majored in opera and I wore jeans to the Met. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

FWIW some families do seem to dress up for the family circle, because they're trying to get their kids to understand that the experience is special. As a general rule there will be more people in actual formal attire for opening nights, but some people do dress up just because they want to dress up. If you want to dress up, you will not be alone, but "whatever you wore to work" is probably the most common sort of apparel you'll see. I'm a software guy and I wear jeans to work, so I was wearing jeans at the opera.

The nicest thing you can do is NOT BE FRAGRANT. The lobby is crowded beforehand, and the hall is dark during the performance, so it really doesn't matter what you wear as long as you're clean and nobody can smell you. Lay off the perfume or body spray, and take a shower if you come from a workout.
posted by fedward at 7:59 PM on March 13 [3 favorites]

Pro classical musician here. You don’t have to worry about clothing. There’s almost the full range at the Met; there’s the full range minus the super formal end for the Phil; and as folks above have said, Broadway is the least dressy of the three.

All your fellow concertgoers care about is that you don’t stink (as fedward says!) and that you make sure your phone can’t make any noise during the performance. :)

(That includes making sure you have no alarms set to go off, as those can sound even when a phone is off – that was the cause of the Phil famously having to stop playing during a concert a few years ago when an alarm wouldn’t stop sounding)
posted by kalapierson at 8:32 PM on March 13

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