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Should you dress up for the theatre?

Sleuth wants people (mainly men) to dress better: they disappoint him

Published on October 18th 2010.

Should you dress up for the theatre?

Sleuth is a sideways glance at the city every week. We give £25 for every story/rumour and piece of absurdity you find for us to print. We ask for the money back if any legal action follows.

So Sleuth was at Doctor Faustus at the Royal Exchange a couple of weeks ago and he loved it. The play. The venue. The company.

He also fell a bit in love with those who’d bothered to dress up: the men in suits, or good trousers and smartshirts, the women in cocktail dresses, or something flamboyant or elegant.

But many people, probably a majority of men, were dressed like they’d got up ten minutes before and were popping round the newsagent on a Saturday morning for a paper.

There were three chubby men, who’d gone separately, wearing shorts.

Shorts. Effing shorts. And t-shirts, trainers and they’d not bothered shaving.

This got Sleuth’s attention, he started looking around. There were men – particularly men - of all different sizes and ages who’d gone out of their way to make Sleuth disappointed.

They’d quite clearly said to their significant others: “Listen love, you put on that nice dress but I don’t have any respect for you, or the performers or the occasion so I’m dressing like I'm about to paint the living room. And I also really want to piss off that Sleuth.”

Sleuth politely rang up the Royal Exchange (although it could have been every theatre he’s been to in the last two decades) and asked if they could implement his plan.

This would involve posting doormen and banning scruffy people from entering. They could say, “Sorry mate, not your place this, there’s the Wetherspoons’, The Moon under Water, for you round the corner.” Dandy dress or pointed patent leather shoes with tassles and curious cufflinks and so forth could be encouraged alongside proper shoes, lounge suits or even as above decent troos, shirts and jackets.

"No, we can't implement your crazy plan," said The Royal Exchange. The theatre didn’t agree with Sleuth, in any way whatsoever.

“We’re happy to have people dress exactly as they wish. If they come to the performance that’s all we want. The days of black tie are long gone. This place is for everyone whatever they dress like. Possibly that image of the theatre as a stuffy formal place puts people off coming, and we want as broad an audience as we can get,” said John Goodfellow of the Royal Exchange.

Sleuth and John Goodfellow had a bit of a ding-dong. They disagreed.

You see Sleuth reckons that people would never consider going to a proper restaurant without putting a bit of thought into their clothes, nor would the vast majority of people, young and old, consider a big Saturday night without putting on their party gear. It's like this jeans for Croma would be fine, for Thursday evening, say, at Opus One you'd, naturally, smarten up.

It’s called self-respect. And also shows respect for those with whom you've chosen to go out with. And respect for the performers (or chefs, or musicians) that are about to amuse, entertain or feed you. Otherwise people might as well have the orchestra and the waiting staff turn up in their own clothes. Yuck.

Abode Hotel tried the own clothes thing when they first opened. It lasted about five months. Nobody could tell who the staff were and it looked lazy.

Then again Sleuth can be a right old fashioned git.

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15 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

R JacksonOctober 6th 2010.

I agree. I can't stand the crap way people going to the Bridgewater Hall and the RX dress. Come one let's make it seem as though we respect the performers

ADOctober 6th 2010.

dresscodes will just drive out the younger theatre goers without the young what future for the arts?

SleuthOctober 6th 2010.

AD you're wrong. The best dressed people (as a group) at the Royal Exchange were the young people: they'd made a bit of effort to dress up, even smart casually. It was the middle aged fellas who were the worst.

AnonymousOctober 6th 2010.

I also have a bee in my bonnet about this too. It's not just the theatre though - I honestly believe that half the UK population don't own a mirror. Why else would they go out dressed as they do? It's mainly down to lack of self-respect but we can also pass some of the blame onto our cousins across the pond - the kings and queens of the dressed-down look. It's yet another bad habit we've picked up from the good old Yanks. Would the chaps in shorts at the RX think it OK for their wives to toddle off to Tesco in their PJs?

Red BootsOctober 8th 2010.

Totally agree with sleuth and annonymous here. It's shocking the state some people go out in. I always make an effort to wear a nice dress when I go to the theatre. But there is such a terrible laziness around now about dressing. It is so apparent when you walk around the city centre. Visitors to the city must think Mancunians are such a bunch of scruffs! Personally I don't even take my rubbish out without full make up on.
I can understand the RX not wanting to alienate people by imposing a dress code but I do think theatre goers should make the effort themselves.

The GrouchOctober 8th 2010.

You should see the state of some of them in Salford Anon. They actually do go to Tesco in their PJs.

user87187October 8th 2010.

In churches it annoys me to see open toe sandals and exposed flesh especially if mass is taking place. In certain places and certain circumstances it is just wholly inappropriate.

juiceygooseOctober 8th 2010.

i think if your going on a night out you should dress up a bit. smart and casual is ok but personally if i am going to the RX i love to dress up a bit after all its not every day i get to go to the theater these days.

DibigoOctober 8th 2010.

I hate it when women wear flat shoes. What a waste of a leg. Also don't like them chino's women have started wearing. Carrot fit baggy beige trousers on a bird. these trousers are even unflattering on proper stinky fine birds. What's going on? I wish every woman would wear sky scraper heels, red lip stick, loads of hairspray and walk little dogs on leads.

AnonymousOctober 8th 2010.

user87187 - my son Jesus wore sandals.

AnonymousOctober 8th 2010.

Whilst we're at it can we make Ugg boots illegal along with jeans and leggings for anyone above a size 14. And every Primark in the country should be razed to the ground

Red BootsOctober 8th 2010.

And people with bad bums should be banned from wearing jeans in public!

HyperopianOctober 15th 2010.

I was thinking the exact same thing as I sat in traffic outside the Bridgewater Hall earlier this week. Most of the folk shuffling through the doors looked like the cast from Shaun of the Dead.

Tower blockOctober 20th 2010.

You don't have a girlfriend, do you Dibigo. The one in the box you have to inflate doesn't count, BTW.

angriochaddyNovember 1st 2010.

I can't really understand the mentality of people who don't actually want to dress up a bit and make some effort to at least look as if they've showered/ shaved when they go somewhere ' special' - personally, it's the only justification I have for owning dressier items of clothing ! Variety is the spice of life, how boring if all we ever don is jeans, t- shirts and trainers . I'm beginning to wonder about Mancs and their nonchalant ' cool' attitude, isn't it all a little old- hat and ' Gallagher- ish'

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