Hi all. We'll be heading to England in a couple of weeks and I'm trying to figure out how much and what to pack. I'm trying to bring as little as possible, mainly practical comfortable clothes and a good pair of walking shoes. We're going to the theater several times, though -- once at the RSC playhouse in Stratford-on-Avon, once at The Globe in London, and once at the Playhouse Theatre in London. We may add one more play in London if we're not too tired. (Yes, we love theater!!) Anyway, I'm wondering if I should pack a skirt or dress and some nicer shoes, and if my partner should bring a suit or at least something other than jeans. I hate to pack anything extra, but I also don't want to be way underdressed, especially for the Playhouse Theatre, which I suspect may be a little more formal than The Globe. Does anyone have any advice or insight on this? Thank you!
You will not stick out if you wear your ordinary travel clothes. That's what I've always done. Something like the opera would be different, of course.
I’ve addressed this in two ways on previous trips. Some of the events have had people very dressed up (and someone taking professional photos), but I was within the range of looking appropriate. I’ve brought a very lightweight polyester dress that has some embellishments on it and worn it with nice black flats. The dress was easily washed in the sink and dried quickly, so I wore it to my events and also for dinners occasionally.
The second option is that I just wore my lightweight black pants and a pretty blouse under a nice cardigan sweater. Some big earrings and a formal looking scarf can help.
Whatever you decide, it’s nice if the pieces can work for your dinners, etc. And I don’t mind wearing the same outfit to each concert or play. Sometimes I do bring a second scarf to change up the look.
Honestly, wear what you want. Some people will be dressed up for a night out. Others will be there straight after a day’s work or touristing. I have frequently worn jeans to the theatre. There is absolutely no dress code - and I think you’ll find the Uk as a whole much scruffier and casual than you expect.
Given my history....I was thinking Theatre clothing was the same as 'costume' 🤭
People don’t dress up to go to theatre anymore. I always wear jeans. It’s just my standard attire and totally appropriate. You can wear anything you want.
Each year , for our Autumn trip , we pack very lightly ( a small roller bag and a backpack , each ) . Since we usually attend a number of performances of Symphony , Ballet , Opera and Musical Theatre , we at least like to dress in a manner suggestive of a certain level of formality . Jean has defined very appropriate female dress ( My wife dresses in that manner ) I pack a tie and dress shirt , which enables me to not stick out in bad taste in a concert hall in a place like Vienna , I skip the jacket , which helps lighten my luggage
My dressy clothes are black jeans and a decent top that looks nice but can be worn on other occasions. My husband does the same. I’ve never felt we were underdressed for the theater.
Your partner does not need a suit, but jeans are not the best choice for travel—too thick and heavy and they take a long time to dry of you do laundry.
My husband wears the same two brands/ styles of pants (which are “trousers” in the UK) for everything: everyday wear at home, , travel, hiking, and going out to dinner or theatre. They are comfortable, practical, and nicely styled—no baggy cargo pockets. They are also lightweight, pack flat, and dry overnight when washed in the sink. The fabric has a cottony look and feel. One is thenPrana Stretch Zion pant and the other is the Kuhl Deceptr pant.
Both are usually available at REI, but can sometimes find the Prana pants on Amazon. For “dressing up” he wears a collared shirt (think Brooks Brothers) but no tie.
In summer I sometimes take a dress and wedge sandals to wear with it, but not always. I feel perfectly well-dress for going out in black slacks ( not jeans) with a sweater and scarf, or a nice blouse and cardigan. Sometimes I take this little open-front jacket which can drew up any outfit:
I took it on our March trip to Italy and wore it almost every day—-basically any time I did not need my raincoat. It is lightweight, packable, and does not wrinkle.
We usually try to go to the opera when we travel, and prefer to dress a bit more nicely than for walking around during the day. That usually means black pants and perhaps a light sweater (Chico's Traveler line is light and can't be wrinkled) with a scarf for me. No problems wearing the same thing again--another scarf takes very little room and can be used during the day, too. My husband has one pair of nicer trousers, one dress shirt, and a jacket. We've always managed to fit that in and never check bags. He generally wears a comfortable pair of shoes that aren't sneakers and uses those. If the weather is warm, I'll use black sandals, and a pair of black flats is easy to fit in for cooler weather. There are always some people in jeans, but we feel more comfortable dressed a little more formally than that--it seems more fitting in a lovely opera house (I wouldn't wear jeans to the Met, either).
Normal day clothes
You might go for something a bit more suit like or even more for opera or Sadler's Wells, but not at regular theatre
Absolutely don't dress up at the Globe - there's no need there and you want to be as comfortable as possible whether you are standing or sitting.
I have a version of this top. I call it my “wear anywhere” top. I’ve worn it with shorts at the beach, to a fancy dinner with black pants, a wedding, even a funeral. It’s super lightweight and takes up almost no space. Hand washes great.
Lotusmile Women's Lightweight Flowy Shirt Double-Layered Printed Chiffon Poncho Blouse Top https://a.co/d/9vJm4Yh
I don’t believe in packing items to wear once or twice on a trip. I also think there are few situations where people really “dress up” anymore.
Insight after attending London Theatre for over 50 years…..wear what you want.
Definitely buy cushions for The Globe
If you want to add a performance consider Witness for the Prosecution at County Hall.
I usually wear jeans to the theatre in London. Dress is casual.
Thank you so much, everyone! This has been really helpful! :-)
You don’t need to dress up, but I certainly wouldn’t wear jeans.