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A Complete Guide to Dressing for the Bolshoi Theatre (for Both Men & Women)

Image shows the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow

What to Wear to the Bolshoi Theatre: A Guide for Women

Seeing a performance at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow should be at the top of your Russia bucket list! This historic theatre holds some of the world’s best ballet and opera performances. Dressing the part for this grand theatre is at the top of many theatre-goers’ minds, too. Should you wear a gown? A suit coat? Are jeans acceptable? This post is here to explain how to dress for the Bolshoi Theatre for both men and women – featuring both the Historic Stage and the New Stage. I am also showing examples of what I wore (and what my husband wore) for each performance we attended.

What to Wear to a Performance at The New Stage of the Bolshoi Theater (for Women)

A woman poses next to a stone column in a Russian city square. She's wearing a stylish black dress with an embroidered skirt, red high heeled shoes, and carrying a black leather purse.

The photo above is from the most recent performance I attended at the Bolshoi Theatre. We went to the “Creation of the World” ballet performance, which was performed on the New Stage.

This was my first time attending a performance on this stage. We had wanted to see one last performance at the Bolshoi before we left Moscow, and the Historic Theatre has a summer break from the end of July until the end of September. (Keep that in mind when planning your trips to Moscow!)

Performers fill the stage during a ballet performance. The set features large orbs representing the mood and planets.
Performers fill The New Stage during a Creation of the World performance at the Bolshoi Theater.
Gorgeous crystal chandeliers hang from ceiling inside the Bolshoi theater in Moscow, Russia.
Stunning crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling inside the New Stage at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.

The New Stage is in a separate building from the Historic Theatre (literally right next door to it, though). It’s still gorgeous, and the ballet performance was superb. The tickets were also far less expensive than what you pay for the Historic Theatre.

Seeing a performance at this stage seemed to be a good mix of locals just getting off work (it was a Thursday evening performance) and tourists who wanted to see a performance while on their trip (there were so many different languages being spoken all around us!). So, the vast majority of women were not overly dressed up for this event. They were either wearing dresses similar to mine (as they were likely just coming from work), or they were wearing slacks with nice blouses…and there were even some ladies wearing jeans.

A woman poses standing on the side of a Moscow street outside the Bolshoi theater. She's wearing a black dress with an embroidered calf-length skirt and red pumps. She's holding a large leather purse.

My first outfit post from the Bolshoi had received a lot of comments and messages from people who had attended the Bolshoi and were appalled that people were wearing jeans! So, I wanted to point out that the New Stage would likely be a less dressy affair, and not to be shocked if people are wearing quite casual clothing. (And if you wanted to wear more casual clothing – you would be fine.)

A woman poses with her back to the camera, walking along a city street. She's wearing a long black dress with a gold zipper detail along the back, paired with dressy red heels.

There isn’t a strict dress code for either of these theatres. However, the Bolshoi website does state this as a dress code:

“A man in shorts will not be allowed into the auditorium and women, in our view should keep to a decent dress style, bearing in mind that they may well be sitting next to people in full evening dress.”

(I can attest that I’ve never seen a man in shorts…and I’ve never noticed anyone wearing sandals/flip flops to the Bolshoi. However, I have seen some people wearing sneakers and jeans.)

A woman poses on the street of a Moscow city square. She stands facing away from the camera, showing the side silhouette of slimming black dress with red accents and dressy red heels.

The Dress: A Classy Evening Dress by Ted Baker

I, personally felt this outfit was appropriate for the night and blended in well with the mix of different outfits for this performance. It’s a classy and unique dress but not an over-the-top, sparkly ball gown. This is the Bolshoi, after all, so why not have a little fun with how you look? (I also wore this dress again this weekend for a company party my husband’s company had hosted in Dallas.)

The dress is by Ted Baker, and I’ve come to really love his clothing as it’s incredibly versatile and beautiful. I’ve received many compliments on it! (You can opt to shop Ted Baker via Nordstrom, Ted Baker US, Ted Baker UK, or Ted Baker Australia.)

A woman models a black dress and leather bag. The black dress is detailed with embroidery of flowers, butterflies, and a leopard on the skirt. She is holding a black leather bag with gold chain strap detailing.

The Bag: Chelsea Leather Tote by Tory Burch

I brought along this behemoth of a tote bag because I wanted to bring my DSLR camera for photos for this post. While photos are absolutely not allowed during the performance, you can bring your camera along and snap some photos before the performance gets underway! Your bag will be searched before entering the Bolshoi, but it’s for safety… to make sure you aren’t bringing any weapons inside with you. (Shop for this leather tote.)

Photo shows a woman wearing a black dress with butterflies and a leopard on the skirt, with a black purse and red shoes

The Shoes: Bella Vita Dress Pump in Red

I would say to avoid wearing sandals or flip-flops to the Bolshoi – but beyond that, any shoe will be acceptable. I personally enjoy wearing heels, especially for nights like this. I would say it is important to wear heels you can walk in, though, as you’ll have a bit of a walk to the New Stage from the road (if you arrive by cab) + there are some stairs to climb. I LOVE these pumps because they are easy to walk in, plus they actually fit my wide feet. (Shop for my pumps.)

Shop My Complete New Stage Bolshoi Theater Look!

What to Wear for a Performance at the Historic Stage at the Bolshoi Theater (for Women)

A woman stands on a balcony, modeling a knee-length wrap style kimono-inspired dress. The dress is black and has all-over floral embroidery with a tied waistband. She is also wearing knee-high black boots.

I was very fortunate to attend a performance of The Nutcracker on the Historic Stage over Christmas. This was hands down one of the best performances I have ever seen in my life. Seeing The Nutcracker at the Bolshoi is seriously one of the coolest experiences of my life, and I would honestly recommend planning a winter trip to Russia so you can see it! (Also, check out my photos of Russia during Christmas! It’s SO magical.)

Now, The Nutcracker is an event I would say you could take your outfit to the next level. It will be happening over the holidays – so, sparkly cocktail dresses will be everywhere, + it seems the historic theatre, in general, is just a dressier affair (at least in my personal experience).

A woman poses in the aisle of the Historic Theater inside the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia.

Wearing a sparkly dress, such as the one I wore above, would look absolutely normal for seeing The Nutcracker. Many women had donned fancy frocks adorned in sequins and lace. Heels were also worn by the majority of women, despite the snow. (I hadn’t noticed any jeans or sneakers for this performance.)

A woman poses turned away from the camera, looking over her shoulder. She wears a knee-length black wrap dress that's covered with gorgeous kimono-style floral patterns.

*Read the entire post featuring this outfit for the performance of the Nutcracker at the Bolshoi Theatre.

Two women pose together in front of the Historic Stage at the Bolshoi Theater. The woman on the left is wearing a white, red, and black floral patterned dress. The woman on the right is wearing a blue, white, and black color block dress.

Given that Swan Lake was also born at the Bolshoi – seeing it performed on this historic stage is quite a special night for Russians and tourists alike! I personally enjoyed the Nutcracker performance more, but Swan Lake was still superb and a once-in-a-lifetime performance to see.

Dancers perform a scene from Swan Lake on stage at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia.

Again, this event had everyone in nice clothing, despite it happening on a Tuesday night. I suppose many women were maybe coming straight from work and wearing the dresses or skirts they had worn to the office. (There weren’t as many sequined numbers to be seen on this night.) It was still, a very smartly dressed crowd.

A woman poses with her back to the camera, modeling a knee-length black dress with all-over red and white floral embroidery. The dress has elbow-length sheer sleeves.

Wearing a cocktail dress with a nice pair of heels was perfect for a performance at the Bolshoi’s Historic Stage for a Swan Lake performance.

What to Wear to the Bolshoi Theatre: A Guide for Men

A man poses in a Moscow city square, wearing a black suit jacket and pants paired with a pinstripe button-down shirt and sunglasses.

My husband was usually one of those people rushing from work to make it a performance at the Bolshoi. He would usually wear what he had worn to the office – which is dress pants, dress shirt, and dress shoes, plus a suit coat.

A man stands outside the Bolshoi theater in Moscow, wearing a black suit and blue stripped button-down shirt.

He wore a variation of this outfit for all the performances we had attended. He didn’t wear a tie for the night we attended a performance at the New Stage. He did wear a tie and also a vest when we attended our performances at the Historic Stage.

A man stands with his hands in his pockets, looking at the camera and modeling a black suit and pants with a white and blue pinstripe button-down shirt.

He also wanted me to point out, though, that this outfit does not fit him very well. (He has lost some weight over the last few months.) We ended up going shopping for new dress clothes for him the next night, haha. Most men in Moscow are dressed quite smartly and their clothes fit very well (according to my husband – he says most men “look very GQ”).

A man stands in a Moscow city street, facing away from the camera for a profile view of his black suit and pinstripe collard shirt.

Outfits for men varied greatly – my husband was on the dressier end of the spectrum. Men would, on average, be wearing nice slacks and a button-up shirt or perhaps a nice sweater with dress shoes or loafers.

A man is seated inside the Bolshoi theater, ready for a performance, enjoying a cup of tea.

For performances at the New Stage – quite a few men were indeed wearing jeans and polos. For performances at the Historic Stage, though, many men were wearing nicer dress clothes that consisted of dress pants and dress shirts – and suit coats were seen on a good portion of the audience. (Again, though, as long as you aren’t wearing shorts – you would technically be more than fine.) My husband feels the most comfortable in dressier clothing like this, as he has to wear it for work.

Men’s Outfit Links for a Bolshoi Theater New Stage Performance

A large crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling inside the New Stage Theater at the Bolshoi theater in Moscow.
The chandelier in the New Stage Theatre.

*Read the Bolshoi’s guidelines for planning your visit to their theatre.

I would not say you need to run out and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on new attire to attend a performance at the Bolshoi Theatre. It’s a fun night to dress up, if you want to, but as long as you stay away from clothing that you would also wear to the beach…you will be just fine. We both felt comfortable in all the outfits featured above.

If you have any questions about attending a performance at the Bolshoi Theatre – I’m happy to answer them in the comments section at the end of the post!

Travel Insurance

It’s a good idea, no matter where your adventure takes you, to have travel insurance. You never know what might happen! Whether you get sick before your trip and can’t go, or you become sick or injured while on your adventure – being covered with travel insurance is a must. Some credit card companies do provide this service (check with yours), or you can get a quote from companies such as Squaremouth to find the best plan for you and your adventure. (This is the company I, personally, use. They are even recommended by Forbes!) To get a free travel insurance quote here.

Visa Requirements

To check if your country requires a Visa for traveling to Russia.

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  1. Those outfits are all so pretty! I feel like I rarely have reasons to dress up, but maybe I just need to create reasons/experiences that I have more of an excuse to dress up for! 😛

  2. I think it is fun to dress up for special outings and I love all 3 of your dresses!

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:


  3. Kristy Michel says:

    Oooh very cute dress love the colors and pattern ❤️???

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:


  4. That is such a beautiful dress on you and I really like the red touches – it’s nice you fit in so perfectly, I’d probably go with a classic dress like this if I was going to the theatre!

    Hope that your week is off to a great start 🙂

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      Thank you so much, Mica!

  5. Courtney Byers says:

    This was sooo helpful! I love all of your examples. That theater looks so neat too.

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      Thank you! So glad you enjoyed it.

  6. I love these examples Lindsey!! And how funny you went shopping for your husband after these photos. It’s nice to hear that the men are dressed nicely for these events.

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      Yes! It’s nice that the men like to dress up a bit too. I’ll have to update this post with my husband’s new outfit once I can get some photos of him, haha.

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