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 dressy cocktail attire), 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.

Black Tie / Formal Attire

How to Wear a Formal Tulle Ballgown

Silver Gown to Wear to the Opera
Mermaid Gown Black Tie
How to Wear a Fur Stole

ML Monique Lhuillier Burgundy Center Stage Gown


Cocktail Attire

Navy Bow Dress Kate Spade Cocktail Attire

Red Cocktail Dress for Holiday Parties
White Glittery Dress for Rehearsal Dinner
Navy Bow Dress for Weddings



Dressy Casual Attire

Dressy Casual Attire for First Opera

How to Wear a Leopard Print Sweater
Gabriela Cadena Marbled Over Dress
Floral Pink Midi Dress