What to Wear to the Ballet Show: A Helpful Style Guide

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Watching ballet is not the same as watching any other type of performance. It has an air of elegance to it.

You don’t have to be wealthy or “cultured” to enjoy ballet. We believe that there’s a ballet performance for everyone.

You also don’t need a special “eye” or “taste” to appreciate how stunningly graceful and skillful the dancers are on stage. You know they worked hard to give you a show to remember.

The words in quotation marks are the same misconceptions that prevent people from attending a ballet dance show.

A lot of people feel that the performances are intimidating. At the very least, they don’t even know what to wear to the ballet.

Attending Your First Ballet

Before we move on to what to wear to a ballet show and other acceptable apparel, we'll share some points on what you can expect from attending your first ballet.

There Are Different Types of Ballet Performances

These are full-length and mixed-rep. A full-length show means that you need to follow a single story with brief intermissions in between.

On the other hand, a mixed-rep ballet show is composed of multiple numbers, possibly of different stories or themes.

There Are Two Types of Ballet

Classical ballet is probably what you imagine when you think of the genre. It usually follows a story with female dancers wearing tutus.

Meanwhile, contemporary ballet is a more modern approach. It is not limited to following a certain theme or story.

Dancers don’t even wear pointe shoes at times. Anything goes.

There Won’t Be Much Talking

It is traditional for ballet dancers to tell the story through their movement, so don’t expect that there would be much narrating during the show.

Those who want to learn more about the show or story in advance will be pleased to learn that there are different ways to do so.

First, you can check out the show’s page on the ballet company’s website.

You can also check if the show has been performed before and read a synopsis elsewhere.

Finally, most theaters provide show booklets that contain more information about the show, including what the story is about, character bios, and other fun facts.

Just Respect the Show

As with any show, the performers will greatly appreciate it if you don’t distract them from giving their best.

That includes not talking too loud, putting your phone on airplane mode, and keeping your children well-behaved.

It is also considered proper etiquette to wait until certain pauses during the performance to clap your hands.

When in doubt, just clap when everyone else is.

Some People May Dress Formally

While the times are certainly changing and fewer people don formal wear during these types of performances, it still wouldn’t be too unusual to see someone wearing a tux or a gown.

In fact, if you’re looking for an opportunity to wear either one, then going to a ballet gives you good reason to do so.

The question is, should you?

Is There a Dress Code for the Ballet?

The answer to the question of what to wear to a ballet show really depends on two things.

First, what does the ballet company say? Some groups do not care less what you wear during their performances as long as you have a good night.

Second, what does the venue require? There are world-class theaters that have a strict dress code.

In the end, there are two things that you can do: research more about the company and the venue, and second, just follow the tips that we'll share with you below.

what to wear to the ballet

What to Wear to the Ballet

For easy reference, we divided this section into two parts.

The first part will include tips on what to wear to a ballet performance for children, followed by the second part on what adults should wear.

What Should a Child Wear to the Ballet?

Again, you’d want to do a little bit of research about the company and the venue. You can also inquire from either of them to get more information.

As a general rule of thumb, you should hold your children to the same dress code expected of adults.

Otherwise, some companies don’t really care about what children should wear to their performance.

They just want people to enjoy it and feel comfortable.

What Should an Adult Wear to Ballet?

Here’s the deal: even if the company or the venue didn’t give any specifics on what to wear to a ballet performance, other guests would still expect you to follow basic clothing etiquette when watching ballets.

Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind:

Do: Wear Something Presentable

Don’t know how to dress for the ballet? Here’s a question you can ask yourself before walking out that door.

Will I wear this to a job interview? If the answer is no, then chances are, you are under-dressed.

Don’t: Wear Something Too Casual

Following the previous point, avoid wearing something too casual, short, or revealing.

It’s probably not a good idea to wear those to a cold theater anyway.

Do: Wear a Blazer or Light Sweater

Speaking of cold, those who are thinking of what to wear to the ballet in winter will be pleased to learn that you can actually wear a blazer or a light sweater.

Feel free to layer your clothing to make yourself warm and comfortable.

Don’t: Wear Statement Shirts

Wearing a statement shirt or something with a company logo would certainly attract attention, but it won’t be the kind you’d probably want.

Stick to more elegant blouses and button-down shirts instead.

Do: Wear Dressy Sandals or Shoes

What about footwear? We recommend wearing something that will go well with your chosen attire.

It is ideal to wear closed-toe shoes. It’s the best option if you’re looking into what to wear to the ballet in the winter.

You can also wear sandals as long as they are dressy enough to match your interview-worthy clothes.

Don’t: Wear Flip-Flops

Understandably, wearing flip-flops, even sneakers, is a big no-no. They are too casual for both the venue and the event itself.

Do: Accessorize!

Ballet celebrates beauty, so we don’t see why you can’t wear your best jewels. Just choose pieces that are not too distracting or gaudy.

A pair of delicate stud earrings, for instance, will look more appropriate compared to a big golden hoop.

If you’re wondering how to dress for the ballet, then let us make it simple for you. If it’s elegant and classy, then yes, you can wear it!

To Sum Up

When watching ballet shows, you should follow certain rules, but what most people find incredibly daunting is the required dress code.

There are ballet companies and venues that are already making an effort to loosen up their strict dress codes to make their shows more accessible to the public.

However, there are still many of them that require you to dress a bit more formally. Most of the other guests will also expect you to do so.

You can keep in mind different tips while putting your look together, like the ones we mentioned above.

There are also different ways to dress for a ballet according to the different seasons.

For instance, if you’re wondering what to wear to the ballet in winter, then you can choose between wearing a blazer or an elegant-looking sweater.

Lastly, don’t forget to make an effort with your footwear. It must match the attire you have put together; most of all, no flip-flops and weird statement shirts.