Figuring out what to wear to your first opera can be an extremely daunting task. How do you know whether to dress for cocktail attire or for formal attire? Is it appropriate to dress glamorous and trendy, or should you err on the side of caution and dress in a more traditional and modest style? Will it be cold in the opera house?
All of these questions are totally fair, and often really depend on the opera house (except for that last question – it is always cold during the performance – I recommend bringing a pretty pashmina or furry little jacket to keep you warm).
Traditionally, matinee (aka mid-afternoon) performances tend to err on the more casual side while nighttime performances tend to be slightly more dressy. Weeknight performances aren’t usually as dressy as weekend performances (Saturday nights are the dressiest) and the opening nights and the galas are the most formal.
In the past, I’ve worn short and gone the cocktail attire route and I’ve worn long and dressed formally. I’ve taken risks (like when I wore this hot pink number last year) and I’ve played it safe and gone with an LBD. The opera in Austin tends to be a bit more casual (you’ll have people who show up in gowns and you’ll have people who show up in jeans) while the Metropolitan Opera in New York City tends to err on the dressier side (cocktail through formal).
Most people will dress modestly – keeping the temperature of the theater in mind – but that doesn’t mean you won’t see a few… nontraditional outfits. Just make sure you can sit in your outfit without any body parts falling out – you’ll spend the majority of the night sitting and it will likely be distracting for those around you if your boob falls out of your dress in the middle of an aria. Just sayin’.
Have you ever been to an opera? Do you have any advice for first-time opera-goers? Let me know in the comments below!