What To Wear To The Ballet? What To Avoid?

If you know someone who is about to have their performance and you’re about to attend your first ballet, finding out what to wear to the ballet might be an overwhelming task.

Therefore, we are right here to assist you through the dilemma!

What To Wear To The Ballet Performance?

In general, you should always dress up and keep casual clothes away. If the theaters have a specific dress code, following the instructions would be sufficient.

If not, here are some tips to notice.

  • Classical ballets and contemporary ballets have different vibes that you can take inspiration from.
  • Mixed-rep shows might contain multiple stories, while full-length shows are loyal to only one plotline.
  • A theater in Paris and a theater in America might differ tremendously in style, so consider it as a factor affecting your choices too.
  • Daytime events and evening events will have slightly but significantly different atmospheres.

For women

In a premiere, the image we should aim for is a woman of the finest things: full-length dresses with jewelry and dainty gloves, especially if you attend an event at the Sydney Opera House or any well-known ballet theater.

The opening night always holds a crucial meaning.

On less formal occasions, pick a cocktail or tea-length dress, preferably off-shoulder, and adorn simple but elegant accessories.

Gloves would be slightly excessive, and you don’t need them when you are already more presentable than most people.

Otherwise, blouses and skirts can pass. They are still suitable for theaters if they have a fine design and a neutral color.

Last but not least, you need proper lingerie. The best underwear will commend your figure and cover any zone that might put you in an awkward situation.

For men

In a premiere, gentlemen should go for something as solemn as tuxedos. The most compatible footwear would be derby shoes, velvet loafers, or patent leather oxfords.

On less formal occasions, things you can wear at work would do the trick: collared shirts, button-downs, long trousers, leather shoes, optional jackets, and ties.

Keep your sportswear for another time and stick to the sleek look, for now, gentlemen.

For kids

It’s both adorable and organized to let the baby dress up in the same style as the adults, especially when you have a dress code to follow. Think of a princess dress or a suit for the little gentleman!

On another hand, clothes for children should focus on making them feel comfortable. Scratchy materials, ornate accessories, or uncomfortable shoes are things you should avoid.

Check more: Top 12 Best Leotard Brands for Dancers 

What To Wear If You Are A Backstage Helper?

As a backstage helper, you want to be agile and not too eye-catching. If you wear bright colors and curiously peek at the stage, the audience might see you and get distracted.

It’s better to choose dark hues such as navy blue or black for a pair of comfortable pants and a loose top.

Should you plan to go elsewhere and celebrate after the session, you can prepare a stylish cardigan or jacket to drape over the top.

For occasions like a ballet recital, pumps, and flats will be much more useful for backstage helpers. You don’t want to run from spot to spot in your high heels, and sneakers might still be too informal.

What Shouldn’t You Wear To The Ballet?

Don’t be shy to dress up, which means it’s highly recommended to stay away from casual clothes and avoid going too extravagant with accessories.

To make it more understandable, let’s get to the details!


We are talking about the big flying saucer hats with intricate attachments. No one denies that they are beautiful, but only when it has enough space to shine.

In a ballet hall where audiences sit side by side, your hat might be a nuisance to people.

Too much perfume

Of course, you love the smell of the perfume or cologne you wear, but the person next to you might not appreciate it.

On special occasions, if you have the chance to meet up with the performers before the show, your perfume might make them uncomfortable or even cause them serious irritation.

Too much jewelry

Wearing a bunch of chains and bangles hardly ever makes the attire look better, and a ballet show is the worst occasion for you to show off your collection.

They don’t look elegant, even more so when they start clashing and clanging.

Both the audience and the dancers need to focus to deliver and enjoy the performance, so they won’t appreciate this kind of distraction.

Too short or tight clothes

The ballet hall is not conservative. But when you spend hours sitting and watching the play, you might start feeling uncomfortable with fabrics clinging to your body or tired of adjusting the hems.

Furthermore, if you keep fidgeting on your seat in such skimpy clothes, it can be a tad annoying to people around you.

The edges of the seat might leave marks on your exposed skin too. And your memorial pictures won’t look as perfect as you want.

Bright fluorescent colors

We wear something glowing in the dark in the hope of the performers noticing us, yet it is more suitable for a vigorous concert than a ballet.

First, fluorescent colors don’t sit well with the formal and organized atmosphere of a ballet hall.

Second, it might be distracting for your dancer, especially if it is their first stage ever.

Tuxedo or evening gown

The ballet halls always give off a solemn vibe, though it doesn’t mean you need to go the extra mile and dress up in tuxedos and gowns.

These clothes might be considered if the dress code states otherwise, or if you have been used to this kind of clothing.

Message T-shirts

Casual clothes are not forbidden in ballet halls, yet they are obviously not the best choice you have.

If you are comfortable with T-shirts, choose a piece with simple colors instead of advertisements or slogans.

Flip-flops or Athletic sneakers

It is undeniable that they are too casual. They belong to the gym or the beach, not the ballet play.

Choosing different footwear is not difficult at all. And some minimum effort can prove that you know the decorum and respect everyone who is part of the performance.

You should know: How Much Are Ballet Shoes?

Some Tips When Dressing For A Ballet Recital

Dress up, not down

Think of the ballet as your chance to flaunt your inner stylish. In most cases, outfits that you can wear to a business dinner or a job interview will do the trick here.

With this mindset on, don’t be shy to adorn a beautiful set of sparkly jewelry, as long as they are not huge bangles and chains.

We have a lot of choices: veil draping, gorgeous beadwork, or detailed embroidery that can enhance your appearance.

Dress for the production

Ballet has many sub-categories, which might play a role in how you dress.

Searching for information in advance and seeing if the ballet will be contemporary or classic will help you decide.

For example, silk and lace will give your costume a taste of nostalgia, while clean and neat cuts are the modern details you need.

If you have a flair for music, you might let the melody engross your mind and find some pieces of clothing that match the impression.

Good timing is the key

A matinee will mostly call for something smart-casual, thus tailored suits will look excellent on both men and women.

Meanwhile, an evening show is an appropriate opportunity to create a formal and dressy look.

Your makeup look matters

Ballet is rather formal and borderline elegant, indeed. However, an expressive makeup style might be the right way to go.

The key to success in this case will be the contrast. When you have decided to draw creative and dramatic lines on your face, the entire outfit should be simple.

However, be informed that you might regretfully overdo the makeup if you fail to choose and focus on a primary feature. The safest bet is always the eyes, whether it is a catlike look or a few whimsical curlicues.

Be bold with jewelry

What’s a better way to send a statement without overdressing than utilizing interesting accessories?

You can try an oversized piece such as an ornate necklace or an extravagant pair of earrings. The colors and the textures might vary, depending on the theme.

Avoid making your outfit too complicated and exorbitant, you should try keeping the clothes elegant and minimalistic.

No pressure

The tips are here to help you decide, nothing more. You indeed need to put more effort into your outfit than plain T-shirts and runner shoes, but it doesn’t mean you have to worry about being overdressed.

Your comfort still matters, as long as you don’t reveal too much skin. In the end, enjoying the show is our ultimate goal.


Is there a dress code for the ballet?

Ballet performances don’t often come with dress codes. But ballet has a long history of being a refined art and the dancers tend to follow a theme.

Dressing up is considered an act of respect for the performers and the theaters. Business attire is the most common, followed by trendy clothes with a mildly casual vibe.

Unlike what most people might assume, formal costumes are not entirely necessary unless the performance is also the opening night.

World-class theaters are another story though. You will have to look up more information and follow their requirements instead of putting on whatever you want.

Can you wear jeans to a ballet?

It’s not a big deal if you show up at a ballet in jeans. But you should at least try and combine your jeans with something refined like dressy shirts, blazers, and pumps.

After all, jeans have always been regarded as something casual and comfortable.

What to wear to the ballet in winter?

In winter, there will be a temperature difference between the day and the night, inside and outside of the theater.

During the day, you would be fine with a sweater and possibly a jacket. We highly recommend wearing layers so you can add or remove them as the temperature changes.

What to wear to the ballet in summer?

The ballet halls are usually equipped with air conditioners, hence the heat is not something we need to worry about.

To pair with your button-up shirts, neat trousers, or formal dresses, you can bring a thin coat in case the room gets a little too cold to your liking.

Nonetheless, be sure to give your feet the breathability they need by putting dressy sandals on them.

Final Words

The thought of how to dress for the ballet show might be somewhat overwhelming for first-time attendees.

But not anymore!

With a handful of tips from theater veterans, you will find the preparation task more fun than tedious.

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