Theater Breaks – What to Wear

The first time I went on a theater break I hauled out the suitcases and stared at them for a long time. I was thrilled we were off to London for a romantic weekend to see a show. I had been looking forward to it for ages but then I started to worry. If you are feeling like I did then let me see if I can help sort out those nasty ‘what ifs?’ about what to wear on your theater breaks.

Do we need to dress up?

Not unless you want to! There is no strict dress code for any of the theaters in London. If you like to dress up and make it more of an occasion, that’s fine.

Most people wear ‘smart/casual’, some people may even be wearing jeans, few will be in full evening dress.

Do wear something comfortable, that does not crease and is not too hot. The theaters are warm places even in winter.

If you do want to dress up:

For women a day dress is fine. If you do want to wear an evening dress think cocktail dress rather than gown. It’s hard to beat a *LBD, ideally in something that doesn’t crease too badly.
A shawl, pashmina, or short embroidered cardigan is usually enough to keep you warm outside unless it is the depths of winter. If it is really cold a woollen coat will be needed (see below).
Shoes should be comfortable enough to allow for a stroll round the West End after the show. Heels should not be too high unless you are used to them.
Take a small handbag and don’t feel you always need a raincoat and umbrella. (It took me about 18 months after moving here to realize that I rarely needed my umbrella!)
On a cold night add a warmish coat but leave it at the cloakroom. It’s a real pain for you, and those around you, when you have to juggle it inside the theatre.
For gents a suit or smart jacket and trousers will be perfect. Ties are definitely optional. There’s no need for an evening suit unless you really want to make an impression.
* LBD = little black dress
5 ‘must haves’ for your theater breaks

Comfortable flat shoes for traveling and for sightseeing.
Smart shoes for the theatre, still fairly comfy.
A smallish handbag that you can wear crosswise – handy, leaves both hands free and easy to manage. This will also be more secure on crowded tube trains or buses. Needs to hold purse, keys, camera, tube map, bottle of water (optional) & not much else.
Double points if your evening bag meets the same criteria!
Dark glasses, look glam even in winter and are vital in case of a slight case of morning after syndrome!
Final word on what to pack

What ever you decide to take and wear remember this is your holiday. London is a very anonymous place and mostly no one will notice or care about your choice of clothes. Wear the kind of clothes you feel happy and comfortable in. If you like to dress up for social occasions then do so, if not no one will mind and you can still enjoy casual style theater breaks.

This is one of a series of articles by Linda Hartley for Theater Breaks.

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