What to Wear to a Drag Show – From Casual to Glamorous

Drag shows are a vibrant and essential part of LGBTQ+ culture, offering a platform for self-expression and creativity. Originating in the speakeasies of 1920s and 1930s Prohibition America, drag shows have evolved into diverse performances that include singing, lip-synching, dancing, comedy, and skits.

Performers often impersonate famous opposite-sex singers or personalities, and the shows can range from adult-themed nightclub acts to all-ages events. Choosing the right outfit for a drag show is not just about fashion; it’s a way to celebrate, enjoy, and engage with this unique cultural experience.

Drag Show Fashion

drag show guy

Drag fashion is as diverse and creative as the performances themselves. It’s a world where self-expression reigns supreme, and gender norms are challenged and redefined.

  • Embracing Individuality: Drag shows are all about embracing one’s unique style and personality. Whether it’s elaborate costumes or simple attire, the key is to express oneself authentically.
  • Breaking Gender Norms: Drag fashion often involves crossing traditional gender boundaries. It’s a space where masculinity and femininity can be explored and celebrated in new ways.
  • Historical Perspective: The modern drag culture has roots in the Harlem drag balls of the 1920s and the touring drag shows like the Jewel Box Revue. Understanding this history adds depth to the appreciation of drag fashion.

Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to experiment with bold colors and unconventional accessories. Drag fashion is all about creativity and pushing boundaries!

Choosing Your Outfit

Selecting an outfit for a drag show is a personal journey that aligns with your style, comfort, and the specific theme or performers of the show.

  • Research the Theme: If the show has a specific theme, consider incorporating elements of that theme into your outfit. It adds to the fun and shows your engagement with the performance.
  • Consider Your Comfort: While bold and extravagant outfits are common, it’s essential to wear something that you feel comfortable in. Your enjoyment of the show is paramount.
  • Inspiration from Performers: Looking at the outfits of the performers can provide inspiration for your own attire. Whether you choose to imitate or simply take cues from their style, it can add a special touch to your outfit.

Fun Fact: Drag brunches have become a popular phenomenon, combining performances with brunch foods and drinks. It’s a festive and fun way to experience drag culture.

Components of a Fabulous Ensemble

When dressing for a drag show, it’s essential to consider various elements to ensure you not only look fabulous but also feel comfortable throughout the event.

  • Clothing: Choose pieces that resonate with your personal style. Whether it’s a sequined dress, a flashy suit, or a simple yet chic outfit, ensure it reflects your personality.
  • Accessories: Statement jewelry, hats, and other accessories can elevate your look. Remember, drag shows are the perfect place to go all out and showcase your flair.
  • Hair: Whether you opt for a wig, style your natural hair, or go bald, ensure it complements your overall look.
  • Makeup: Experiment with bold eyeshadows, lip colors, and highlighters. If makeup isn’t your thing, a simple look works just as well.
  • Footwear: While heels might be the go-to choice for many, ensure you’re comfortable. Flats or sneakers can be just as stylish if paired correctly.

Pro Tip: Always do a comfort test at home before the show. Walk around in your outfit, sit, stand, and dance to ensure you’re at ease.

Dressing for the Theme

Many drag shows have specific themes, from retro nights to futuristic extravaganzas. Dressing according to the theme can enhance your experience.

  • Research: If the show has a theme, do a quick online search for outfit inspirations related to that theme.
  • DIY: Sometimes, the best outfits are the ones you create yourself. Use craft supplies to customize your attire according to the theme.
  • Mix and Match: Combine elements from different outfits to create a themed look without buying anything new.

Fun Fact: Themed drag shows often have performers dressed in coordinated outfits, making the entire event a visual treat!

Respecting the Art of Drag

drag show lady

While drag shows are all about fun and self-expression, it’s crucial to approach them with respect and sensitivity.

  • Avoid Cultural Appropriation: It’s essential to be aware of the cultural significance of certain attire and accessories. Always research and ensure you’re not appropriating someone else’s culture.
  • Stay Informed: Understand the history and significance of drag culture. This knowledge will not only enhance your experience but also ensure you approach the event with the respect it deserves.
  • Appreciate the Performers: Remember, drag artists put in a lot of effort into their performances and outfits. Appreciate their art and avoid wearing anything that might be seen as mocking or offensive.

Pro Tip: When in doubt, always err on the side of caution. It’s better to choose a simpler outfit than risk offending someone.

Do’s and Don’ts

drag show stage

When dressing for a drag show, it’s essential to keep in mind some general guidelines to ensure a fabulous and respectful experience.


  • Do Experiment: Drag shows are the perfect place to try something new and bold. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
  • Do Respect Others: Always be mindful of the performers and other attendees. Your outfit should celebrate the art of drag, not mock or belittle it.
  • Do Consider the Venue: Different venues may have different vibes and expectations. A drag brunch might call for something more casual, while a nightclub might encourage more extravagant attire.


  • Don’t Appropriate: Avoid wearing items that might be considered cultural appropriation.
  • Don’t Overdo It: While drag shows encourage creativity, it’s still essential to feel comfortable and authentic in what you’re wearing.
  • Don’t Ignore the Theme: If there’s a specific theme, try to incorporate it into your outfit. It adds to the fun and shows your engagement with the performance.

Pro Tip: Always carry a small emergency kit with safety pins, a compact mirror, and other essentials. You never know when it might come in handy!


Is there a specific dress code for drag shows?

No, there’s no strict dress code. Creativity is encouraged, but comfort is key. Feel free to express yourself in a way that feels authentic to you.

Can I dress in drag even if I’m not part of the LGBTQ+ community?

Absolutely! Drag shows are inclusive events. Anyone can enjoy dressing up, as long as it’s done with respect and appreciation for the art of drag.

Are there any makeup or hair tips for attendees?

Experimenting with makeup and hair can enhance your look. Don’t be afraid to try bold colors or unique styles. YouTube tutorials can be a great resource for inspiration.

Should I consider the performers’ outfits when choosing my own?

You can use performer outfits as inspiration, but also express your unique style. It’s about finding a balance between the two.

What if I’m uncomfortable with bold outfits? Can I still attend?

Of course! Attending in comfortable clothing is completely acceptable. The most important thing is to enjoy the show.

How can I avoid cultural appropriation when dressing for a drag show?

Research and sensitivity to cultural elements are key. If you’re unsure about something, it’s best to opt for a different choice.

Are there any age restrictions on clothing choices?

Some venues might have age restrictions for certain events, so it’s good to check in advance. Always consider the appropriateness of your outfit based on the audience.

What are the most popular drag shows?

Drag show is popular across the globe, from Europe and Australia, all the way to the United States, more precisely, New York.


Choosing what to wear to a drag show is an exciting and personal experience. It’s about self-expression, creativity, and respect for the art of drag.

Whether you decide to go all out with a glamorous ensemble or keep it simple and comfortable, the most important thing is to have fun and celebrate individuality.

Drag shows are a beautiful space to explore fashion without boundaries, so embrace the opportunity and enjoy the show!

Final Fun Fact: The term “drag” is believed to have originated from the acronym “Dressed Resembling A Girl” in theater slang, though its exact origins are debated.