Dressing for the mid-century American theater was a fashion genre into itself. Opening night, the opera, musical or theatrical matinee's all came with good, better and best options. Dressing for the theater is nothing new. The evolution of theater experience has evolved for hundred's of years.
As opera was popular with the upper and middle classes 1800s, being appropriately dressed became a condition of entry. Evening dress was obligatory for those sitting in the boxes and the first gallery, known as the 'dress circle.' In the late 19th century the orchestra stalls replaced the pit and became the fashionable place to see and be seen.
Into the 1900s, an Edwardian lady would be expected to wear long evening gloves and would adorn her hair with jeweled accessories. She would carry a pair of opera glasses to look at the performers more closely and would need a fan to cool herself in the heat of the theatre.
After WWII, the theater became more experimental and attendance more democratic. However, the 'ladies who lunch' and the country club set still dressed for the occasion with particular attention to coats and dresses that coordinated together and were statement pieces for the event. In this featured 1956 No. 2021 aqua and cream satin ensemble, the lining and large bow all play off the taffeta dress. The above was right off the Paris runway and was featured by Dior with the giant bow and ensembles in a number of color and fabric variations.