What to Wear to Your First Opera!

How to Dress for an Opera Premiere

This post was supposed to go up yesterday… but in between group project meetings, my mom coming to town, and my event with MiniLuxe last night, the day got away from me.

So lucky y’all: you get two posts today instead of one!

If you’ve been following for a while (or have checked out my 30 Before 30 list), you know that I attend a lot of operas. I try to see at least six operas per year. And – quite honestly – few things give me as much joy as a fancy night out, all dolled up, to go see an opera.

Years ago, when I was first starting Glitter & Spice, I wrote a post about what to wear to your first opera. Since then, that post has gotten hundreds of clicks (and I’ve received almost as many emails!). So I thought it about time I do a follow-up post with real examples for y’all to shop!

What to Wear to Your First Opera

What to Wear to Your First Opera

Figuring out what to wear to your first opera can be a bit tricky. First off, there are three different attires for opera-going: formal/black tie, cocktail, and dressy casual. As a rule of thumb, opening nights/Saturday night performances tend to skew more formal. Matinee performances (typically Sunday in the mid-afternoon) skew more casual.

If you are invited to a donors’ dinner before or after the performance, dress more on the formal side. If, instead, you’re invited last minute or have other things going on before or after the performance, it’s totally okay to go dressy casual.

Dressiness can also vary by opera company. For the Dallas Opera, most people are in cocktail attire on your average (non-premiere) night. Same goes for the Metropolitan Opera in NYC. The opera festivals (like Fort Worth and Santa Fe) tend to skew more casual. And then at the Austin Opera, you’ll find quite a range: everything from ballgowns to jeans.

Generally, for evening performances, I recommend dressing in cocktail attire (or even black tie, especially if it’s an opening night), just to be safe. And, for matinees, I recommend dressing dressy casual. If the opera is being performed in an amphitheater, dressy jeans are actually acceptable. And – in the event you needed this spelled out – workout clothes are never appropriate for the opera.

Finally, a few tips. For starters: no sequins. This is because lights can reflect off of your dress and be distracting for the artists. Next: bring a wrap, scarf, or cardigan with you. Theaters can get really cold and you don’t want to be freezing. Finally: when in doubt, dress conservatively. I generally save my mini mini-dresses and plunging necklines for other occasions. Obviously, exceptions apply (that dress above has a pretty low neckline, for instance), but use your best judgement.

And now for some inspiration to help you choose what to wear to your first opera (and some shoppable links!):

Black Tie / Formal Attire Perfect for Your First Opera

How to Wear a Formal Tulle Ballgown
ML Monique Lhuillier Burgundy Center Stage Gown

Cocktail Attire to Wear to Your First Opera

Navy Bow Dress Kate Spade Cocktail Attire

Dressy Casual Attire Inspiration for Your First Opera

Dressy Casual Attire for First Opera

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