What to Wear to the Symphony

One of my favorite things to do is to attend a symphony. The first part of the evening always begins with deciding what to wear to the symphony. For me, I love getting dressed up, attending the event, and listening to the incredibly talented musicians play their instruments. When I was little, I vividly remember my mom dressing me up to attend my first symphony. This was such a special night for the two of us and I’ve been hooked ever since! and I’ve been hooked ever since!

what to wear to the symphony
Diane's outfit for the symphony

I absolutely love dressing up for this occasion. You may be wondering what to wear to the symphony if it’s your first time. Or you could be visiting my blog because you want a new, fresh ideas on how to dress for the night. Well you’re in luck because today I’m talking about what to wear to the symphony. I’ve included both men and women’s attire including what accessories you should pack of the symphony. 

 What women wear to the symphony? 

dress for the symphony
Diane enjoying a private symphony at the Australian Embassy in Paris

You may have read my article about what to wear to the opera house in Paris. In my opinion, attending a symphony is a more formal event. Thus, needing more formal attire. I’m going to give you a few ideas on what to wear to the symphony, along with the exact outfit I wore. 

I wore a high neck long black dress with a lace back. (Size XXS) I found this outfit both classic and formal at the same time. Many other women in long black evening attire as well. In my opinion, wearing a black dress or cocktail dresses are always a safe bet. However, If you are looking for something a little different, I saw women wearing a nice skirt and a blouse.

Other acceptable outfit for the symphony include a pantsuit. I saw countless women wearing a traditional pantsuit in black, gray and even mixing at matching. My rule of thumb when it comes to what to wear to the symphony is simple, wear formal attire or business attire. This will ensure you are not under dress for the big event!

One additional recommendation I have for you is to make sure you test the dress or outfit out before you decide on what to wear to the symphony. I say this because you are going to be sitting for a long period of time and you want to make sure you are comfortable sitting in your outfit.

what men wear to the symphony

Diane and Aaron at the symphony

What men wear to the symphony

The next big question you may be wondering is what do the men wear to the symphony? I saw many gentlemen dressed in a suit and a few in tuxedos. Many men were also wearing a blazer and slacks, and even a few men were wearing slacks and a cardigan with a button down underneath. AKA Dressy Casual clothes or business clothes.

For the men, I think it comes down to what the temperature is outside. If it’s colder you will see more gentlemen wearing suits and a big coat, while if it’s nicer out they may only wear a button down with their slacks / khakis. In any case, slacks, a button down, a jacket and optional a tie is a safe bet. With that look you are guaranteed not to be underdressed. 

Is there a dress code for the symphony?

While there is no official dress code for the symphony there is attire that is appropriate and attire that is not appropriate. To summarize the two sections above, most women and men are dressing in formal attire or business like. Think of this as a fancy night out. Plus it’s fun getting dressed up for events. If it’s opening night of the symphony I would make sure to dress on the more formal side of things.

What accessories should you bring to the symphony

what to pack for the symphony
Diane wore a black sequoia bag to the symphony

Accessories are a key part to any outfit. I love attending the symphony because it gives me an opportunity to accessorize with formal pieces that I don’t typically wear. 

At the last symphony I attended I wore a black clutch and my black python heels. I think this is the time where your accessories can really dazzle or add a pop of color to your outfit. When I attended the symphony it was warm outside. I ended up wearing a white scarf draped over my shoulders instead of a jacket.

When you are attending the symphony you should always bring a bag big enough to fit your cell phone. I’ve made this mistake before and ended up having to carry my phone the entire night plus my clutch which wasn’t ideal.

What you should not wear to the symphony? 

In my opinion, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. You may be thinking okay yes I get it, but what should I avoid wearing to the symphony? I would avoid wearing jeans or any casual items such as tennis shoes. While there may not be an exact dress code for the symphony you want to make sure you are showing respect to the performers.

If it is a smaller audience make sure you avoid anything that is too flashy and could distract the symphony players.

Etiquette for attending a symphony

night at the symphony
Diane admiring the Eiffel Tower before the private symphony

There are some simple etiquette rules to follow when attending a symphony. The first is to arrive early. I can’t begin to tell you how many people arrive late to the symphony. Not only is it distracting to the musicians that are playing, it’s distracting to the people around you, and it’s rude. 

The second thing is to make sure to keep the noise to a minimum. I know that you’ll probably want to discuss the movements or the symphony with the person sitting next to you, but remember there are other people around you trying to enjoy the show. I recommend holding off chatting to your neighbor until the intermission (halfway through the first and second half).

What is difference between Symphony and Philharmonic?

You may be wondering what is the difference between a symphony and philharmonic? Well that’s a great question, in short they are pretty much the same thing. A philharmonic symphony is the more formal name for a symphony. Your ticket may say that you are seeing a philharmonic symphony or it may say Symphony orchestra which is the generic name used. Either way when it comes to what to wear to either the philharmonic symphony or the symphony orchestra the same dress code applies.

Recap on what to Wear to the Symphony

Whether you are going to see classical music such as Mozart, Beethoven, or evening concerts. This is a night you will surely remember. With that being said these special events don't happen often. So leave your social media, cameras, video recorders, cell phones, any electronic devices behind and enjoy the evening!

To summarize what to wear to the symphony is simple, formal attire. For women that may be a long formal dress, a skirt and blouse, or even a pant-suit. For men it’s a blazer and a nice pair of slacks or a suit. If you are looking to jazz up your outfit, I recommend adding a pop of color on your accessory so either your shoes or your handbag. Well there you have it, what to wear to the symphony.

I would love to hear in the comments below what you like to wear to the symphony or have you observed any fabulous outfits from audience members that is worth mentioning?

Sincerely Petite in Paris,


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  1. Hi, I am grateful for your posts on dressing for the symphony and the opera! One thing I can’t figure out is outerwear. I will definitely need a coat, as I’ll be in Paris in May and the show gets out late. Is there any chance you would comment on what kinds of outerwear works with dresses like this? Thank you so much!

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Kate,

      Thank you for your message! I definitely recommend a coat that will keep you warm. As soon as you arrive, you are able to check in your coat. For me, I always typically wear a longer black coat.

      Hope that helps and you have a great time!


  2. To me the symphony, opera, and ballet are black tie events. Alway have been to me since my mother first took me at age 10. Men in Dinner Jackets (ie tuxedos), women in gowns. Even here in super casual Southern California I still attend in formal attire.The vast majority of attendees in most places are (IMO) unfortunately missing out on these rare opportunities to look and feel elegant & special, while enjoying and witnessing these very special artistic tributes displaying the drama, beauty, creativity of the human spirit.