What to Wear to the Ballet: Silicon Valley Edition

Alexsandra Meijer in Ben Stevenson's Cinderella, which opens tomorrow. Photo by Chris Hardy.

Sure, you can attend the ballet dressed as Cinderella! Ballet SJ Principal Alexsandra Meijer models the fashions in a photo by Chris Hardy.

The following blog post was contributed by guest blogger Elizabeth Werness, a writer, beginning-level ballet dancer, and longtime friend of Ballet San Jose School principal Dalia Rawson. She loves reading fashion blogs, going to the ballet, and dressing up. Ballet San Jose does not necessarily endorse the products Elizabeth has linked in this post, but we do think these styles are pretty darn cute!

Nailing “casually chic” without swerving off into “sloppy” or “trying too hard” is tricky. So as a resident of Silicon Valley, what do you put on for Ballet San Jose’s upcoming performance of Cinderella? We explore some of your sartorial options.


Admit it: you love to dress up, but don’t have enough occasion to do it—sadly, brocade purses and satin high heels tend to attract baffled glances at work. But you can take plenty of creative license at the ballet, where jean-and-cami combos, J. Lo-style jumpsuits, and tulle-overlay ballgowns are all received in stride.

If you want to attract admiring attention while steering clear of the overdone prom look, try Paola Frani’s charming pearl-gray sleeveless dress. With its drop waist and subtly sheer floral print, it’s sweet without veering into frosted-cupcake territory. Silvery heels, classic pearls, and an unstructured updo supply an on-pointe finish.

For a more casual ballet evening or matinee, try a layered look. Banana Republic’s sparkly tank strikes the perfect tone when combined with dark-wash skinny jeans, faux-snakeskin heels, and a softly-draped shrug. Add a clutch with metallic accents for extra shine.


In a city where jeans and T-shirts are the de facto work uniform for many, it can be hard to know how to dress for out-of-cubicle occasions like the ballet. When in doubt, follow one simple rule: the more understated, the better.

If you’re debating between a steel-gray button-down and a neon Android-logo T-shirt, your (non-glaring) choice should be glaringly obvious. A well-cut jacket with dark-wash jeans is a viable offbeat option, as long as you don’t go too Miami Vice by adding light-colored loafers and socks. If you really want to go all out, Astor & Black suits custom-tailored for you are the height of ballet-watching fashion.

Finally, if you’ve owned the same pair of dress shoes for ten years, you might want to consider an upgrade. (Twenty-five years or longer, though, and you’re golden—they’re bound to be back in style again. See Exhibit A.)


What could be more fun than playing dress-up at the ballet? For a show like Cinderella, girls can pursue full-blown princessy style in a Victorian-inspired fuchsia confection with ribbons and pleating at the sides, paired with street-wearable ballet slipper flats. If your little Cinderella isn’t the tiara type, a crisp, flared black-and-white-striped number works just as well.

Boys who don’t want any fuss can get by with an assortment of tailored separates—an oxford shirt,  a pair of flat-front khakis, polished black Hush Puppies. But a navy three-button suit can really make a splash if your young prince has the pizzazz to pull it off.

Ballet San Jose celebrates the closing of its 2012 Spring Season with Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, opening tomorrow, May 4, at the SJ Center for the Performing Arts downtown. Buy tickets for this family-friendly fairy tale ballet online at tickets.balletsj.org, or call our Box Office at (408) 288-2800. And please keep in mind: dressing for a night at the ballet doesn’t have to break the bank! First-time ballet goers can find additional suggestions about what to wear, parking info, and other essential tips here: http://balletsj.org/1stTime.html.

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