What To Wear To The Opera- A Comprehensive Guide

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“What to wear to the opera” is a question that most people ask themselves when it’s that time of the year. Most often, only to escape from the humdrum of our everyday boredom reality, we resort to entertainment of any form to engage in something more engaging.

You would often find yourself unhesitatingly binge-watching a whole series in just a day, but it would take an awful lot of persuasion to turn to reading. 

It confronts the idea that any idea or story transmitted to us live develops instant likability. Thereby, the introduction of television back in the 1800s created a revolutionary thunder that spoke about how much people loved gorging over narrations and characters that somehow coincided with their way of life. 

1. What Exactly Is Opera?

It is more of a live theatrical experience that weaves thematic stories, purely sung and dramatized, staged by characters bedecked elaborately and with illustrious make-up well-suited to their roles.

1.1 Wonder What Made Opera Popularized? 

Opera, a visual depiction of a story-teller, finds its origin in Italy and serves as a medium of reciprocating ideas with the audience through the emotional interplay of theatrical and musical saga.

For most of us, our first introduction to opera happened through movie sequences that instilled the idea of an ideal date night.

1.2 Why Should One Visit the Opera House in the 21st Century?

In the age of digitization, when there is enough content out there to absorb from YouTube channels and OTT platforms, and even cinemas offer a 3-D cinematic experience, you might ponder what more theatrical performances can offer, especially opera houses. Then, you do not know where these opera tickets can lead you!

1.2.1 Gripping Storytelling 

Stories are built upon possibilities, and with those possibilities comes hope, both of which are enjoyed by humans with vivid imaginations. We are kids at heart who find solace in living through stories, and that’s what opera is all about.

1.2.2 Live On-stage Presence

Have you ever succumbed to a story that left you goosebumps? Opera is a surprise package that unveils drama; performers recite poems, sing in high pitches, sing monologues accompanied by musical instruments, and dance in real-time.

1.2.3 Mindful and Lively Audience

The tremors and temper felt from the orchestra pit deliberately engage the audience with their eyes aligned to the stage to gulp down an entire range of emotions, feeling nothing less than living a dream. With the curtain stealthily going up and down with every scene, murmurs of the audience surround the opera house, which indeed is a sight to behold.

1.2.4 A Three-Hour Packed Show

Opera is nothing less than a living nostalgia that traverses through centuries gone by. Interestingly, it is a three-hour packed stage act uninterrupted by ad breaks, unlike the ones streamed online.

2. Types Of Opera 

New interests must be trusted upon the endless knowledge that exists out there. Opera is classified into types according to its genre and style of expression.

2.1 Opera Seria


Opera Seria, as a serious genre, often revolves around themes such as love, loss, tragedy, and heroic exploits. However, it also includes elements of political intrigue, historical narratives, comedy, self-parody, and even happy endings.

2.2 Opera Buffa


Buffa, in Italian, means to jest or joke and is the root of the word “Buffon” in English. Short comedy sketch that improvises on lighthearted everyday stories.

Unlike the opera seria, which tells stories of gods and grand heroes, intermezzo and opera buffa tell stories about domestic life.

2.3 Leitmotifs

This opera type is defined by characters and emotions that play through musical themes.

2.4 Singspiel


Proceeding to the next type, Singspiel is the interplay of dialogue recital accompanied by synchronization. 

The Singspiel had its origins in the semi-sacred miracle plays of medieval Germany.  It was only in the 17th century that secularized Singspiele began to appear, making the genre as Mozart knew it a more recent development than Italian opera.

2.5 Verismo Opera

The History of Opera - Part 10: Verismo and Puccini 1890 - 1930 (Music Documentary)

Verismo Opera introduces storylines that deal with people of the lower strata, poverty being its focus. These are orations delivered in high pitch.

Opera 101: Nine Types of Opera to Get You Started

3. Opera Clothing Etiquettes: What Not To Wear

To begin with, it is essential to note that the performers prep day and night to put forward a spectacular show before you, so every effort counts that goes into your dressing sense. There are no strict dress codes, I tell you.

Choosing to dress formally or casually is no big deal. Even so, a consciously chosen attire ascertained by a formal side will undoubtedly add a wow factor.

Let me scroll you through some clothing etiquettes to bear in mind.

3.1 Never Pick A Heavily Printed Wear

Considering the occasion, my advice would be to discard loud, colored, funky outfits with prints all over them. In contrast, play safe with subtle color tones that meet the expectations in hitting the aesthetics. 

3.2 Summer Casuals Are A Big No

Since opera shows are fancy affairs, certain etiquette is bound to be maintained. Therefore, denim shorts, tank tops, and semi-translucent attires must be struck off.

Dress code for Theater and Opera

3.3 Save Active Wear Clothing For Sports

First and foremost, sportswear is sport-specific clothing designed to be worn for performing physical workouts. In a nutshell, don’t show up wearing sweatpants, a track jacket, or a sweatshirt.

3.4 Denim Constraints

Though it all depends on the timings and the kind of opera you sign up for the fancier, the better is the usual norm. Nevertheless, attendees are generally encouraged to wear formal or semi-formal attire to show respect for the art form and the venue. 

3.5 Leave Your Slippers At Home Please!

Refrain from wearing flip-flops. Besides, this is not some regular house party where you can casually wear furry slippers. Switch your fashion genre to something edgy. Wingtip boots, loafers, and opera pumps are a few obvious choices for the opera event.

Particularly for women, ankle boots, pumps, stilettos, and gladiators can work pretty well for almost any outfit you choose.

3.6 Ditch Strong Fragrances

Opera houses attract a diverse audience base. Sitting next to each other in a confined opera house, it is recommended to be considerate of others by wearing minimal perfume or cologne, as strong scents can be distracting in close quarters.

In addition, opera isn’t just about the people and appearances; there’s a rich cultural and artistic experience leading up to it.

What to wear to the THEATRE, the OPERA or the BALLET. All the outfit inspiration you need.#vogue

4. What Do You Wear to the Opera?

Going to an opera is like ticking something off your bucket list; it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that’s all about the aesthetics, the dress code, the company you are going with, and the curiosity to unveil the newness that comes with it.

For first-timers, it can be a situation of bewilderment deciding what to wear to the opera. Therefore, I’m here to burst the fuss around the dress code. The opera experience is primarily about people wearing what suits their style. You can try your hands on business casual wear, cocktail dresses, evening gowns, floor-length gowns, and slip dresses, which make up for an opera outfit.

For more outfit inspiration, look at these hand-picked gowns and suits to try on. Let’s dress you for the perfect opera night, Ladies and Gentlemen!

4.1 Classic to Shimmery Outfit Choices For Women

4.1.1 Mermaid Gown

A woman, when dressed in a gown, can make heads turn. Attune to simple style tips for a floor-length mermaid gown tinted in pastels.

To embrace your curves, the mermaid gown with a sweetheart neckline and a statement necklace can be a look to consider. Glam up with winger eyeliner and dewy glass skin make-up.

What to wear to the opera
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4.1.2 Ruffled Divine Gown

The feminine urge exists to epitomize the “princess look” from when we were young and naive. In a world of crops, wear an elegant gown.

Slay the event extravagantly by carrying a pastel-colored ruffled ball gown, complimented by a shimmery look. Since ruffled dresses are flattery, they bring a flirtatious essence to the feminine body. If a best-dressed list exists, you will top that with this cohesive look.

4.1.3 Off-Shoulder Black Dress

An off-shoulder black dress backed by a well-cut slit empowers you to own your body. With confidence comes the zeal to carry an outfit as sensual as black with some sparkle here and there.

With an elegant dress like this, you can mingle your dolled-up look by wearing dainty jewelry keeping your makeup minimal. 

What to wear to the opera
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4.1.4 Wrap Satin Mini Dress

A satin dress can do wonders for someone who spares no room for compromise regarding comfort and soft fabric. Imagine what a blend of its glazed texture with a hue of royal blue, silver, or teal topped with a tulip hemline can do to a woman’s refined and bold personality.

What to wear to the opera
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4.1.5 Glittery Sequin Dress

Fancy night-out plans that include opera shows must be complemented with an embellished V-neck gold or beige sequin slip dress. Sequin dresses give a surety to create an element of oomph with almost any hairstyle.

Dazed and confused? Try braided hair or bun with minimal make-up.

What to wear to the opera
Photo By Inna Mykytas On Pexels

4.1.6 A Two-piece Ensemble

Sometimes, it takes hours of scrolling to decide what to wear to the opera. But more often, it is one’s wardrobe that has all the answers contained in it. Matching separates can be a game changer.

You can be your fashion expert by twinning an off-shoulder or a halter crop top with a flared chiffon skirt or high-waisted pants to ace the regal look.

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4.1.7 The Timeless Polka-Dot Charm 

Polka dots are the epitome of grace and wilderness, validating feminine vigor. For a moment,  envision pairing it with solid stockings, a polka-dotted pencil skirt, or a figure-flattering dress.

Paint your lips with bold red lipstick. This occasion calls for a red carpet-look for the evening. Summarize it with glossy black heels and a handy clutch for extra brownie points.

What to wear to the opera
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4.1.8 Pair With Denim

Divulge the door to countless dressing options with denim.

Formal dressing way can sometimes be too cumbersome. Again, there’s a hack for anything and everything. How about wearing a white cotton half-sleeve T-shirt with a printed floral skirt? Consider denim pencil skirts as great alternatives. Condensed with confidence, an extra layer of classic blue denim jacket will do fine.

By the way, a midi flare dress and an extra layer of denim jacket topped with a cowboy hat sounds exotic, too!

What to wear to the opera
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4.1.9 Corset Dress

Bodycon dress like a corset can seize the day, and you can feel like a “royal highness.”

The plunging neckline carries a quaint charm. Pick large earrings, a pearl necklace, and elbow-length gloves for an oomph factor. These are more preferred comfy heels over edgy ones.

5.1 Chique Semi-formal To Casual Apparel for Men

5.1.1 Tuxedo

The feel of a tuxedo appears to be as enticing as the idea of wearing it to the opera.

The hint of satin on the coat and a satin lining on the side of the trousers can give you a dazzled look for your date night. Without a doubt, you are sure to receive compliments.

man in black suit bowtie
Photo By Drew Rae on Pexels

5.1.2 A Blazer Look

If you want to cling to a subtle business casual impression, a well-textured blazer coordinated with a vibrant black tie or bow tie can enhance your look. Blazers come with a charm factor that suits all occasions. 

Brace yourself for an ethereal look with a pinch of drama and kink. To conclude your dressing aesthetics, don it with glares, a fedora hat, and maybe a dangling hourglass to serve the occasion.

5.1.3 Khaki Is The New Sexy

At times, the idea of shopping can dread you to the core. The best suggestion is to sneak into your closet and hand-pick your best shirt. Suit or no suit is entirely your decision.

Khaki attire triggers eclectic options for events of all types. A casual, solid V-neck t-shirt with a layered khaki jacket and pants can look hot.

On the other hand, a formal dark-hued shirt dressed with khaki pants can do wonders. You can spice up your accessorizing game by wearing a fedora hat, circular-dialed watch, and loafers. Rolling up your sleeves is recommended because appearing sexier hurts no one!

casual urban fashion wear 5225417
Photo By Samson Katt on Pexels

5.1.4  Suit Up With Suspenders

Not to forget, the undying love for vintage fashion finds its relevance even to this day. I repeat, fashion is a puzzle that takes a pool of creativity.

To stand out, feel free to retrieve and own the ’60s look with formal trousers and waistcoats, everything color-coordinated. Following a more quaint vibe, matching it with a solid tie and suspender can add a touch of poise to your demeanor.

vintage style male fashion
Photo By Collis on Pexels.

5.1.5 Turtle-neck Outfit 

Men choosing an attire is heavily influenced by their level of comfort. In such a case, what could be better for the opera than a high-neck t-shirt paired with velvet pants? Also, when attending the evening opera show, it’s the bright colors that you should go for.

For a semi-formal opera attire, an infusion of glazed pocket squares tucked in a patterned blazer or overcoat would bring you to the spotlight.

man looking out window contemplative
Photo By Mart Production on Pexels

5.1.6 Rock The White Bottoms 

When nothing else works, jazz it up with white bottoms. Trends come and go quickly, but a basic, solid black t-shirt paired with white trousers never misses a beat.

To put it another way, customize your outfit with a leather belt with a polished silver buckle to ooze your fashion sense. After all, who wouldn’t love to be seen?  Check out some imperial and classic whites flushed with striking polo shirts and blazers.

How To Style White Pants | Men

5.1.7 Dress Casual With Denim 

Firstly, if you haven’t been to opera before, you should know that there are no absolute rules for dressing. It’s a preference to be either experimental or entirely avoid denim.

You can keep it sleek and simple by wearing a collared shirt with denim jeans. On top of that, you can pair them with vintage glasses, a silver watch, boat shoes, or anything that rocks your boat. 

casual man sitting outdoors
Photo By Roman Odintsov on Pexels

5.1.8  Style It With Cardigan

Chilly winters and gala opera theatricals, what a camaraderie to look forward to!

Not to mention, spending may appear absurd for one-time entertainment. Above all, considering the show time, opera performances run for about 2-3 hours. This is where comfort takes a front seat. 

A cardigan is all you need, and accordingly, styling it with any bottom wear would look splendid. Simultaneously, you can exhibit playfulness with boots and a flat cap, a treat for the eyes.

How to Wear a Cardigan Sweater (Lightweight & Chunky Shawl Neck)

6. Takeaway

Opera is a door to unexplored perspectives that invite a pang of excitement and a great excuse to dress.

When it comes to what to wear to the opera, an easy solution is to wear clothes that define you and suit your body type. Given these points, it’s an experience to cherish for life, characterized by no set dress code. 

But, since it’s a theatrical show, an outfit that showcases some level of sophistication is always a big yes. After all, who wouldn’t love the idea of being admired?

Last Updated on by Namrata

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