A number of years ago, dressing for a Broadway Show meant a tuxedo and ladies' evening wear. Now, however, you are likely to see someone in jeans and a sweater and another person in a floor length gown in the same line to see Wicked on Broadway. Dressing for a New York City Broadway show is largely dependent on what time of day the performance is held, the weather, and type of play being performed.
For matinees, held in the afternoon, it is usually acceptable to wear casual clothing to the Broadway play or musical. This could include jeans, slacks, dresses, button-down shirts, sweaters, and skirts. Often, theater fans wear t-shirts with logos of the Broadway shows, such as Phantom of the Opera or 42nd Street, which is perfectly acceptable. Additionally, if the play is actually an off-Broadway show, casual attire is also permitted no matter what time of day the performance is held. If, however, the Broadway show is held in the evening, more refined attire is the norm. This could include formal wear, yet even a nice suit and dress will suffice.
Next, the weather can factor into dressing for Broadway. New York City, due to its tall buildings, is often very hot in the summer, yet the theaters are very cool. As such, in summer, you may wear light clothing to the play, but it is important to bring a wrap or jacket for the theater. Conversely, in the winter, the city is quite cold and accustomed to snow and ice. In these conditions, wearing a heavy coat and even snow boots is acceptable, and may be checked once you arrive at the show on Broadway.
Finally, the type of show being performed has an impact on dressing for the event. Musicals, such as Wicked and Jersey Boys, usually have a more informal audience, while plays, such as Our Town or Hamlet have more formal theater patrons. If the Broadway show is geared toward children, such as Shrek or The Lion King, the dress is generally casual, especially for the kids. Broadway shows with more adult content, such as In the Heights, will find a more dressed up audience.
Dressing is largely an individual choice for Broadway. No matter what Broadway show you buy tickets to see, however, the most important thing to remember to wear is a smile because on Broadway in New York City, you are bound to have a good time.