How to Dress For Opera

How to Dress for Opera

If you are going to the opera for the first time, you should be aware that opera houses have dress codes and the rules have to be strictly adhered to. It would be a good idea to check what the dress code is before you decide on what to wear. Checking the opera ticket or the invite might just give you a hint. Ladies are expected to wear formal, evening dresses in a color of their choice. Black, red and navy blue have long been the traditional colors worn at the opera. However, feel free to experiment with lighter colored clothes or different styles, keeping in mind the formality of the event. Men are expected to dress dapper in a suit of their choice. From dark suits to classic tailcoats, deciding on what to wear for the opera is nothing short of a daunting task. Some opera houses insist on formal wear for the opening night, but allow semi-formal attire for subsequent evenings. Casual wear like jeans or shorts or tee shirts should be avoided as they are the most inappropriate attire for an opera evening. This is an occasion where people notice what you wear. So, take your time and choose your attire with caution.


Men rarely spend a lot of time choosing their clothes. However, special occasions demand special attention and time so that you can be dressed appropriately and stylishly.

    • A stylish tuxedo or a dark colored suit with the right fit, will look classy and appropriate for the opera, and can go a long way in creating a lasting impression.
    • If you are planning to reach the opera house straight from work, make sure you change into a formal suit if the dress code requires you to do so. Semi-formal wear would be fine, if the dress code on the ticket or the opera invite allows you to do so.
    • Choose a formal shirt and team it with a white tie (considered formal wear) or black tie (considered semi-formal wear) based on your personal preference. Back ties can never go wrong if you know how to wear them right.
    • White ties are usually reserved for opening nights, but if a visiting opera company is giving a limited number of performances, then the white tie can be extended to all the nights.
    • Patent, leather opera pumps for men or formal black leather shoes are the most suitable footwear to be worn with a suit, for the opera.
    • Elegant studs, cufflinks or waistcoats also make good accessories. You can either contrast or choose them in the same color, depending on your style and preferences.

Tips For Men

    • Always choose wrinkle-free trousers as you will be spending the whole evening seated. You wouldn’t want your pants looking awfully wrinkled at the end of the show.
    • Never dress casually for a formal and classy event like the opera.
    • Avoid wearing a black suit if your date/companion is also planning to wear black as that could make you look drab and boring. Contrast your partner’s attire; but subtly.


An evening at the opera house is an occasion to dress up. Your dress has to be formal, eye-catching and mesmerizing. Here are a few guidelines to follow when choosing your clothes.

    • Long formal dresses or knee-length ones can be worn to the opera. They can be made with materials like silk, satin or chiffon, which drape well and create a soft, flowing effect.
    • Choose dark colors or stick to the classic black. You can never go wrong with black as, apart from being an all-time favorite, black is a classy choice for a formal event.
    • Tie your hair in a formal updo, a messy bun or just play with your creativity! As long as your hair is in place and look presentable, you are fine.
    • Accessories like thin jewelry, dressy shawls, a clutch purse or a nice evening bag can add to the beauty of your dress.
    • Smart shoes with platform heels or stilettos that match your dress will complete your ensemble.

Tips For Women

    • Do not get stressed when deciding on what to wear to the opera. Take your time and understand all your options thoroughly.
    • Avoid tight tops and skirts.
    • Plan your attire well in advance and keep everything ready. Give yourself enough time to decide the perfect ensemble for the event.

Both men and women feel confident when they are dressed fashionably and appropriately for an event or occasion, and the same goes for the opera. The opera is a glitzy event where fashion comes to the forefront. It’s also a place where you are likely to run into friends, acquaintances and business associates. So make sure you make the right impression. Follow the dress code, and feel free to use these tips while dressing up for the opera. Have fun!