How to dress

How to dress for the opera?

The Ultimate Guide to Dressing for the Opera: Tips and Tricks for a Memorable Evening

Going to the opera for the first time and having no idea how to dress for such an event? Opera is a place where you can see a variety of extravagant outfits, interesting looks, flashy suits and bizarre costumes. If you have never been to the opera, we have some tips on how you can dress for the opera properly in terms of etiquette, dress-code, as well as what types of clothes you can choose and what clothes you should better avoid. In the following lines, we will discuss some orientation tips that will help you choose clothes for the opera, as well as some specific tips along with accessories that you might need.

how to dress for the opera

What to wear to the opera?

black opera dress

What specifically do you wear to the opera? A simple dress? A nice suit? Extravagant clothes in style of, let’s say, Lady Gaga? How does it work?

Opera fashion can go from one extreme to the other. In fact, there is no opera event where you can go overboard with the way you dress.

Of course, you have to expect that you won’t come there dressed eccentrically, such as the whole outfit put together from elements like feathers, panda fur, or anything else this crazy.

If you avoid the above-mentioned extremes, you are unlikely to do anything wrong by choosing to wear your best suit, dress, costume or by coming in a formal corset.

However, there are certain standards by which you can find out what suits the opera, to follow opera etiquette, express respect for the event and so on.

In addition, there are certain factors, such as daytime or evening opera, venue, etc., that will tell you how to dress appropriately for opera.

What clothes to choose for the opera

Opera dress is not as rigid as you might think. Of course, you have to follow certain social rules, but in general it can be said that it depends more on you and your style, taste and, finally, your imagination as to what you wear.

However, remember to try to follow operatic etiquette, the pragmatism of the event, and the rest is up to you.

Etiquette at the opera house

If the opera is held on a weekend evening, you can dress even more extravagantly. The exact time of the opera concert will tell you what style you should wear, or alternatively whether to dress more formally or less formally for the opera.

If the opera is held on a standard weekend evening, you may want to dress more formally and solemnly, and vice versa – if the opera is held, say, on a Tuesday at 11 p.m. you definitely won’t wear a formal dress during the weekday.

In addition to the time when the opera takes place, the venue will also be listed. If you go for example to a lavish opera in Vienna, you will certainly be expected to look more formal than you would at an opera in your city’s high school. Some opera events also specify a theme in which you must choose your opera costume.

You yourself will have to find out what the theme will be – on the opera’s website or at the venue, or you may have to ask a knowledgeable person. Even if the theme is not specified, you can still be inspired to choose an opera outfit, depending on what exactly will be played at the opera.

Don’t get panicky unnecessarily before the opera

Opera is not as rigid and strict as you think, you don’t have to worry too much about the judgement of what you wear.

If you’re really desperate and have no idea how to dress for the opera, try on your formal wear with a little imagination and courage to stand out.

Get ready for the opera

Some opera events can last half a day, including intermissions, dinners, etc. Visitors may come to the opera house in the early afternoon, watch half the opera, go to dinner and watch the other half late into the night.

So reckon with the fact that opera can sometimes take up a whole day as an event. When preparing your outfit for the opera, consider the circumstances around you, not just how you will look at the opera.

Practicality is the key to success

Just as you wear comfortable and nice shoes to a wedding, or dress well for a ball, you should also think about the opera.

As we have already mentioned, the opera can take a really long time, so you should consider the practicality and comfort of your clothes.

Don’t wear beautiful but uncomfortable shoes in which you would stand a maximum of 3 hours, because experiencing the entire opera would be an intermittent torment for you.

dress for the opera

This also applies to opera clothes – try to choose both elegant and comfortable clothes in which you won’t start sweating.

Choose clothes that are neither thin nor too thick, so that you can sit in them all evening without much trouble.

You can go wild with outfit accessories

Opera is the place where you can pull out your most beautiful jewelry and accessories without worrying about overdoing it. Choose what you like, especially if they match your outfit and you are happy with them.

If you have earrings that you wouldn’t normally wear anywhere because they’re “a little too much” for an ordinary event, the opera house is the place to finally wear them.

Do you have interesting rings that you don’t normally wear? Be sure to take them this time!

Don’t waste a lot of money on an opera outfit

As mentioned above, you can go wild with your outfit at the opera. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money now just to look great.

The public opinion is that opera is a place for the rich and famous, but this is not true.

You don’t have to waste hundreds of dollars on expensive clothes now. People at the opera are ordinary tourists, occasional art lovers, ordinary people, as well as more fashionable celebrities or personalities. You don’t have to worry about not fitting in there.

Remember the way to the opera house

If you have to drive longer to get to the opera, consider dressing up and getting ready somewhere on the spot.

You certainly won’t be comfortable traveling in the costume for hours in a car. If you must travel by plane, keep the costume with everything in your travel bag, and don’t get dressed until you arrive.

What to never wear to the opera?

What not to wear to the opera

  • Flip-flops or beach sandals
  • Sneakers
  • Torn pants or other “destroyed” clothing
  • Shorts / short pants
  • Sweatpants or yoga pants
  • Leggings
  • Short-sleeved shirts
  • Baseball caps
  • Sweater from grandma, etc.

So what should you wear to the opera?

An interesting aspect of opera is that it doesn’t follow such precise rules about how women should dress versus how men should dress.

Of course, if you’re not a fan of experimentation, you can go to the opera in a traditional, formal style, such as a nice evening gown or a formal suit, but there are other options for dressing for the opera.

In the following sections of this article, we will look at several formal and informal dress styles and closet items along with accessories.

Formal dress for opera

Formal dress can be understood as both traditional and somewhat unconventional, and yet you will still look formal. Clothes that you can wear to the opera and still look formal are, for example:

Suit / Tuxedo

For men, it is recommended to use a classic but high-quality suit or tuxedo as formal attire for opera. Formal suits are always suitable for opera, regardless of the theme, possibly any dress code of the opera.

tuxedo for opera

If you want a more traditional look, go for a black blazer with one breast pocket, or you can choose a navy blue blazer in the right size for you.

Whichever type of suit you choose, make sure the jacket, pants and shirt are properly fitted. However, women can also wear suit pants or tuxedos to the opera (you’ll look really dapper).


If, as a woman, you don’t know how to choose the right outfit for an opera, you won’t make a mistake by choosing a nice black dress.

However, you can wear fuller clothes that cover most of your body. The dress can have a special texture or binding, and you can also bring accessories such as a choker.

Evening gown

For a super formal outfit, you can try wearing an opera gown. The color, cut and style are entirely up to you – according to your preference.

Avoid mainly cheap materials such as polyester. The dress can have different patterns and shades of color, the problem can at most be what you wear with it.

Accessories and extras

  • Choose such one main accessory that will characterize your personality as a whole. If ever there was a time to pull out your bold necklace or crystal earrings, this is the opera. However, try not to overdo it with extravagant accessories, choose the main one.
  • Men can bring a hat and an interesting bow tie for this occasion, but don’t forget to remove the hat from your head before entering the opera.
  • Satin gloves are also a very traditional opera accessory. Combine them with the color of your outfit so that the two pieces of clothing complement each other. For example, wear shiny white gloves with a forest-green gown.

opera gloves

  • Try to opt for shiny and radiant shades of clothing that will also look formal. As for shoes, choose something comfortable, since you’ll be sitting for most of the evening. However, they don’t have to be practical at all costs – you can also dare to wear really tall shoes.
  • Don’t forget clothes that keep you warm. In opera halls it is sometimes very cold, so take another layer of clothing with you if necessary. This can include a lace shawl, a wool coat or even a long coat. Artificial fur gives your dress an elegant look. However, vests and denim jackets and even coats are better left at home for the next event.

Informal dress code for the opera

Choose clothes for the opera with high-quality materials that are well-made and sophisticated. Your goal is to achieve elegance, dignity and at the same time a pinch of quirkiness. Choose clothes made of nice materials, such as cotton or cashmere.

When choosing clothes for an opera in a store, check how the clothes are sewn and whether they have any manufacturing defects. Quality is very important. Women who want to wear pants should look for professional closet items, such as pleated pants or fashionable ankle pants.

Pack a jacket with you in case it gets cold during the concert. For women, a jacket in an interesting pattern, such as leopard print or lace, will give a black dress an interesting look.

Some tips on what you can wear to the opera

  • Don’t overdo it with mists or perfumes. During the opera, you will be sitting next to other people, so respect the people sitting around you and avoid strong or pungent scents. A few drops of fragrance should suffice. When using a deodorant spray, apply it to your wrists, neck and underneath on the bends of your knees. This also applies to perfumes, as the heat from the areas will gradually expand the aroma of the fragrance.

makeup and opera clothes

  • Wear your hair in an elegant and neat, clean style. No matter how formal or informal your outfit, your hair should be nicely styled and arranged. Men can pull their hair back a bit or spread it to the sides.
  • Women should avoid hair styles that increase their height, such as a bun on top of the head or a high braid. The higher your hair, the more difficult it is for the person sitting behind you to see the opera.
  • You should probably gain the most from choosing and applying makeup. Try different types of shades – some radiant makeup will make your face stand out along with your outfit. If you love your lips, accentuate them with an expressive lipstick and pull a little mascara on your lashes to make your lips stand out.
  • If you want your eyes to shine, use some strong eyeliner, mascara and shadow. Stick to unpainted lips, possibly nude ones, so your lips don’t compete with your eyes. Don’t be afraid to experiment with glitter, vibrant colors and even false eyelashes to create “art” in your overall look.

Although it doesn’t look like it, the opera house is a place where many things are allowed, both in terms of costumes, clothes and general appearance, for both men and women.

During such an event, you can see hundreds of types of colors, shades, clothes, in short, the boundaries are not very clear.

So don’t be afraid to experiment with your outfit and don’t wonder what to wear to the opera. Try to be a little bold and daring in choosing what to wear to the opera.


The editorial staff is composed of a team of authors which are trying to write the best possible articles that can help you with everyday activities and problems. We are interested in various trends and styles in the world of fashion, clothing, household cleaning and individual fashion brands.

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