Nuevo Culture

Broadway, My Clothes Have Missed You

In February 2020, just before lockdown began, I had a near-perfect New York night at one of the city’s greatest institutions: Broadway. A friend and I had tickets to see Real Housewives star Erika Jayne make her debut as Roxie Hart in Chicago. Naturally, we were running late for curtain call, so just ten minutes before the doors closed, we found ourselves running through the crowds of Times Square—her in sky-high Sergio Rossi platforms and me in pinching Christian Louboutin oxfords. When we got there, we proceeded to blindly shuffle to our seats in the dark, and my friend’s honking heels stabbed a man’s foot along the way. “Jesus Christ!,” he roared out.

The whole night was chaotic, but more importantly, it felt more than a little glamorous. Theatrical, even. While the man in our row who fell victim to my friend’s Sergio Rossi’s may disagree, half the fun of going to a Broadway show is about dressing up and being seen (even if you’re sitting in a dark theatre). Call it a form of escapism, but for a night at Broadway, you get to be the best version of yourself—someone who slinks around in sequins, and pays $40 for a glass of wine during intermission. A Broadway show gives you an excuse to be a little over the top with your style, and nobody bats an eye, because there’s an even more elaborate outfit on stage.

Billy Porter as the glamorous Lola in Kinky Boots, 2014 Photo: Getty Images

We certainly dressed the part that night. I put on my favorite black velvet Prada blazer, paired with a silvery Saint Laurent tunic, black trousers, and suede Louboutin oxfords with spikes on them. My friend Nadine wore a chic black Oscar de la Renta turtleneck, swishy, knit Staud pants, and gold platforms. Together, we looked fabulous, and our looks were indicative of why dressing for Broadway is so fun in the first place: you get to wear all of the pieces you can’t during the mundane work week—including sequins, feathers, and heels.

Unbeknownst to us, the ensuing pandemic meant it would be one of the last times we dressed up like this for a very long time: Broadway’s doors have remained closed for the past year, and anything frilly or fun has been shoved to the back of my closet. But now, the world is finally opening up, and Broadway is on the rebound. From September 14th onward, all Broadway theatres can reopen at full capacity, and Chicago, Hamilton, and Moulin Rouge! are all slated to return to the Great White Way. And while it’s still a few months out, this news is precisely what I needed to hear now to get me excited about fashion again. Sure, this summer of re-emergence has meant that I’ve slowly started putting together cute outfits, but dressing for Broadway will be a true test in styling a look. It’s not only about looking presentable, but really going all out.

Broadway veteran Bernadette PetersPhoto: Getty Images

When I’ve dressed for Broadway shows in the past, much like my (somewhat messy) Chicago night, I’ve always been inspired by the eclectic, flamboyant style of Broadway legends like Billy Porter, Bernadette Peters, and Liza Minnelli. I often take cues from the glitzy suits or sequin accessories they wear on stage, and channel them into my own look. When I went to see Book of Mormon in early 2020, for instance, I wore a velvet blazer with a pussybow Gucci blouse and cuban heeled boots. The top was a hit with the intermission crowd, which was equally decked out in sharp suits and glamorous gowns.

I know the opening is months away, but just the thought of attempting outré style again gives me something to look forward to. I’ve already begun planning my Broadway looks. For a show like Moulin Rouge!, for instance, I’d dress to theme with a campy look: I have a frilly-collared Palomo Spain shirt that’s perfect for opening night. If I go the more serious route, with a show like Come From Away, I’d go more minimal with a silky black top and embroidered loafers. Turns out, the fall runways have many looks that are ideal for a return to Broadway, too. If money was no object, I’d slip into Gucci’s velvet red tux, a classic Ralph Lauren tuxedo, or an embroidered silk evening jacket by Alexander McQueen for the night.

My dream suit, by Gucci, to wear on BroadwayPhoto: Courtesy of Gucci

Even before I make it to Broadway, however, you can bet I’ll be testing out this elevated fashion spirit with my summer wardrobe. If Broadway will be my true fashion awakening, this summer is going to be the overture. As I write this, a pair of sequin boots are eyeing me from across the room, just begging for an epic night out—and though my Broadway debut is still weeks away, now seems like the perfect time to dust them off.

The cast of Broadway's Moulin Rouge!, 2020 Photo: Getty Images