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Dress code advice needed: London theatre scene.

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May 28th, 2012, 12:09 PM
  #1
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Dress code advice needed: London theatre scene.

We will be seeing two shows while in London this June:
Concert at St Martins in the Field
and
the musical "Dreamboats and Petticoats" at the Playhouse Theatre

We have just come from Las Vegas where we went to "Phantom of the Opera," at the Venetian. I wore slacks and a sport coat (no tie). DW was dressed nicely.
However, we saw all manner of dress. While there were a few like us, most were much more casual, including shorts, flipflops, t-shirts and baseball caps (oh, my!)
Of course this is Vegas, and we have not been to the theatre in SF or NY for some years - but are we that out of touch?
I don't relish lugging around slacks and a sport coat for our month in GB if I only wear it once or twice. But neither do I want to look like I'd just come from the beach.
(I promise not to wear a baseball cap my whole time in GB.)

Any advice or suggestions are appreciated.
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May 28th, 2012, 12:35 PM
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The dress code in ALL British theatres:

Wear clothes. Nudity is OK, but only for actors.

That's it.

At real plays (and concerts) during the week, many people will be relatively formally dressed (some even wearing jackets, though they're usually removed instantly), because they're on the way home from work. Generally, though, wearing a jacket is the hallmark of a provincial oik to whom Going To The Theatre (or a concert) is a Big Event. Trousers and a shirt are pretty well standard: the length of trouser depends on the weather (most London theatres can get stifling during a hot summer, and if you want to wear shorts, that's your decision), though no-one gives a hoot what kind of shirt you wear. T shirts are fine.

In civilised cities, audiences go to theatres to watch plays, and to concert halls (and churches doubling as them) to listen to music, not to worry about other theatre goers (though several people near me were amused to see a man wearing sandals with socks at a concert in a church near us this past weekend. He neither noticed nor cared). Pointing out this essential fact of London life inevitably upsets many Americans, who seem to think etiquette manuals written for dinner theatres in Ohio apply in the West End. For the avoidance of doubt: They don't. If others "feel nice" looking like a hangover from the 1950s, that's their privilege and we won't embarrass them.

I've no idea how people dress for New York theatres these days. I didn't know they had proper theatres in San Francisco. Neither are of any interest to London audiences.
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May 28th, 2012, 12:38 PM
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We were there last week. There were a few people dressed in suits and nice dresses but most people were in what I would call "business casual".
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May 28th, 2012, 12:41 PM
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People no longer seem to dress up for the theatre in London, but I've never seen shorts. t-shirts with slogans or baseball hats.
Just go for clean and tidy and that should be fine. The same goes for St Martins in the Field. It isn't as formal as some other concert venues.
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May 28th, 2012, 01:03 PM
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That's it.

And be clean. If you've been rampaging around London all day please have a shower, change clothes AND LEAVE THE SHOPPING IN THE HOTEL.
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May 28th, 2012, 02:08 PM
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Call me a provincial oik, as that's what I usually wear.

Simple sports coat over shirt and trousers, no tie.
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May 28th, 2012, 03:31 PM
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Come any way you want....nobody is there to see you.

I usually attend in my tourist outfit, a clean t-shirt, blue jeans (no holes), sneakers (trainers) and while I do wear a baseball cap most of the time to protect my receding hair line from the sun, I do take it off while in the theatre. I have yet to have anybody say anything to me or feel any sense of being under dressed.
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May 28th, 2012, 03:39 PM
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you should see the outfits people wear to attend court nowadays. last week i saw acres of underpant, thongs fully visible below see-through shorts, and one dress that would have looked daring on a girl half the age of its wearer.

like you say, flanner - clothes should be worn. preferably ones that cover the bits that ought to be covered. apart from that, style and modesty seem to be optional.
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May 28th, 2012, 04:06 PM
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annhig wrote: "you should see the outfits people wear to attend court nowadays"

I got that on the third run-through. First, I thought of the Queen's garden party and I thought "nah, not that; they maintain standards there". Then I thought of Wimbledon, and realised that we have a few weeks to wait. Then it dawned on me that you were referring to those hallowed rooms where justice is blindly dispensed (and if justice is blind, who cares what the supplicants wear?).

The courts of law - where the members of the bar and the bench wear really absurd garb, quite unsuitable for a London theatre except as stage attire.
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May 28th, 2012, 04:33 PM
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Thank you one and all for this bit of advice. I will wear Dockers and a nice shirt (buttons, not a T) in order to assuage my dearly departed mother's admonitions about dressing nicely, and yet attempt to maintain some kind of control over what will no doubt be an overpacked suitcase.
I think, upon reflection, that rules of decor are no doubt quite different in Vegas than in most of the rest of the civilized world.
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May 28th, 2012, 04:50 PM
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....well you have to remember the average day ime temperature in Vegas during the summer is up around 40 degbrees and more with 12% humdidity or less.
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May 28th, 2012, 05:51 PM
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True, but this past weekend at the time of the show, the ambient temp in Vegas as about 26c. So we can't blame the weather for what we saw. Only, "hey, it's Vegas!"
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May 28th, 2012, 06:22 PM
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Even at the Royal Opera House when I last attended there was a wide variety of attire from long gowns on women and coats and ties on men to very casual dress so I wouldn't worry too much.
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May 28th, 2012, 06:43 PM
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Unless this is a formal event (charity performance ro something) you will see people in absolutely anything. If you aren;t comfortble that way - bring some business casual. If you are going to have some nice dinners you will probably want it anyway.

(DH never travels anywhere - even a beach resort without at least a blazer and I always have a couple of nicer outfits - may be pants but will be a nice silk outfit - not everyday cottons or knits. But we usually do one special dinner in each city we visit - and won't go to a Michelin * place in cotton pants and a tee shirt - just like we wouldn't do it here at home.)
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May 28th, 2012, 06:45 PM
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Sorry - you won't necessarily have to have a blazer or sport jacket - but spending a month in the UK - ANY month - you will both need some sort of jacket - just for chillier days.
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May 29th, 2012, 11:43 AM
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chilly ? - it's sweltering now!
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May 29th, 2012, 02:10 PM
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Dockers and a sports shirt will be fine for the theatre.
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May 29th, 2012, 02:29 PM
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chilly ? - it's sweltering now!

That's today, by June it'll probably be colder than Antarctica with rain so heavy Gopherwood futures will be sky high
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May 29th, 2012, 02:34 PM
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It may be hot now but London summers are typically a mix incuding a substantial number of grey days that aren;t very warm - and chillier evenigs. I would never go without a light weight jacket and a cotton sweater. (We've had it 45 degrees, windy and pouring rain in Scotland in the middle of July - but that's another trip.)
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May 29th, 2012, 02:39 PM
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i was so shocked last month (cambridge theatre) to see how casual everyone was. more than that-- was shocked to see all the candy and icecream and drinks people were eating in the theater! i am not a fan of this behavior-- and especially of seeing grown adults throw their empty ice cream containers (i think it was ice cream) on the floor afterwards. it was a little weird to see at the hallowed london theatre scene.
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