Perhaps you’re an opera aficianado. Or maybe it’s your first time. If the latter is the case, then you’re likely to be thinking about what to wear to the opera. This article has all the inspiration on how to dress for the opera and opera outfits suggestions that you need.

Do you have to dress formally at the opera?

Often, a night out at the opera is associated with ball gowns and tuxedos. Who could forget Julia Roberts wearing that floor-sweeping red dress in Pretty Women when she watched La Traviata?

Most opera houses simply say to wear whatever you feel comfortable in, but that can just leave you feeling confused.

While what to wear to the opera very much varies depending on the venue and opera you are going to see, a night at the opera can be a great reason to dress up and wear something you don’t usually wear everyday.

General ‘rules’ to think about when putting together an opera outfit

Before you start looking for a new outfit, what should you consider for a night (or afternoon) at the opera?

Take a look at the venue

The first point of call is the obvious one. Take a look at the venue website. They may feature a dress code. Or, if not, you may find images of audience members at previous events.

Avoid denim

Even if you usually live in your jeans, to be on the safe side, and look smart enough, it’s usually best to shy away from jeans or denim jackets.

Add statement jewelery

If the rest of your outfit is relatively simple – perhaps you are going to the opera straight from work – then adding stand-out jewelery is a great way to elevate your look.

What to wear to the opera - Lizzy wears print pants and sparkly shoes |

Lizzy @whatlizzyloves above (read her style interview here) shows off an outfit that would be perfect for a visit to the opera or theater, featuring sparkly shoes and a statement necklace.

Check out these jacquard pants from Trina Turk and COS and this similar silk top, glitter pumps, clutch and necklace.

A dress always works

If you really aren’t sure what to wear, a dress is always a good idea, and works well for the opera, as well as other special events or parties you may have planned.

Black dress outfit for the opera |

Kay Unger Tatum Floral Lace Midi DressOpen Edit Faux Fur CollarNaturalizer True Colors Vera Ankle Strap SandalNina Crystal Handle MinaudièreKarine Sultan Statement Clip-On Earrings

Add a cover up

A cover-up is not only practical to add warmth, but also adds extra glamour. Take a look at these ideas to cover up a formal outfit.

What to wear to the opera - Jess wears a lace dress |

Jess @elegantlydressedandstylish above (read her style interview here) opts for an elegant, lace, neutral look.

Get her look with this similar top, blazer, skirt, sandals, clutch, necklace and earrings.

Dress up

If in doubt, opt for over-dressed rather than under-dressed.

What to to wear to the opera – outfits to choose

Let’s put together a capsule wardrobe that you can choose from for your trip to the opera. It will work just as well for any other formal events you have coming up.


Choose luxurious materials, vibrant colors and playful prints.

Tops for the opera |

Cinq á Sept Rue Sequin Accent Cowl Neck Silk BlouseThe Drop Button Down Satin ShirtAnne Klein Geo Print Short Sleeve Mock Neck TopCOS Cropped Knitted Mock Neck Top

Red suit outfit |

Veronica Beard Miller Dickey JacketHalogen Open Front Long BlazerOpen Edit Faux Fur CollarVeronica Beard Honolulu Cigarette PantsLinea Paolo Melia LoaferRebecca Minkoff Leo Envelope ClutchKendra Scott Elisa Pendant Necklace

Jackets and cover ups

A blazer is always an elegant way to cover up. You could also add a wrap or stole. An oversized scarf is also a good idea, if you want to cover up your arms or add a splash of color. The reversible scarf (below) comes in a choice of prints, all inspired by famous art.

Jackets and cover ups for a formal outfit |

Veronica Beard Miller Dickey JacketHalogen Open Front Long BlazerOpen Edit Faux Fur CollarPlum Feathers Reversible Art Shawl Scarf

Tanasha wears a red coat |

Tanasha @letsrecreatethelook above opts for a classic color combination of red, white and black.

Steal her look with this similar top, blazer, jeans, pumps, belt and clutch.

Dresses and skirts

An elegant dress will always be a good choice for the opera. You could choose a little black dress, a neutral option, or add a pop of color. Or, if you prefer separates, a midi skirt in a luxurious material like silk or satin will work well.

Dresses to wear to the opera |

Nordstrom Cap Sleeve Front Slit Knit DressKay Unger Tatum Floral Lace Midi DressMaggy London Cutout Long Sleeve Sheath Midi DressZeagoo Midi Satin Skirt

Print top and satin midi skirt |

Anne Klein Geo Print Short Sleeve Mock Neck TopOpen Edit Faux Fur CollarZeagoo Midi Satin SkirtNaturalizer Karina Square Toe PumpKurt Geiger London Kensington Frame ClutchKarine Sultan Statement Clip-On Earrings

what to wear to the opera – Pants

If you prefer pants, you can create an elegant look with wide leg pants, with a suit, or with a printed pair.

Pants to wear to the opera |

DIARRABLU Leer Palazzo PantsVeronica Beard Honolulu Cigarette PantsAlice + Olivia Dylan Wide Leg TrousersCOS Abstract Jacquard Pants

Nikki wears a black suit |

Nikki @40notfrumpy above chooses a black suit, and adds a touch of glamor with her shoes.

Recreate her outfit with this similar blazer (other options here and here), trousers and pumps (another option here).


You can, of course, wear heels with your opera outfits. But flats can work just as well. Choose a smart pair of loafers, or you could opt for a pair of designer flats like the Christian Louboutins (below).

Shoes for opera outfits |

Linea Paolo Melia LoaferChristian Louboutin Conclusive Spike Pointed Toe FlatNaturalizer True Colors Vera Ankle Strap SandalNaturalizer Karina Square Toe Pump

Print pants outfit |

COS Cropped Knitted Mock Neck TopCOS Abstract Jacquard PantsChristian Louboutin Conclusive Spike Pointed Toe FlatRebecca Minkoff Leo Envelope ClutchKarine Sultan Linear Drop Earrings


Your accessories will add that finishing touch of glamor to your opera looks. It’s likely that a clutch bag will be all you need, with just enough room to fit your phone, credit card, and the opera program in. Don’t forget your jewelry to complete your outfit.

Accessories for opera outfits |

Rebecca Minkoff Leo Envelope ClutchKurt Geiger London Kensington Frame ClutchNina Crystal Handle MinaudièreKarine Sultan Linear Drop EarringsKarine Sultan Statement Clip-On EarringsSterling Forever Layered Bar NecklaceKendra Scott Elisa Pendant NecklaceNordstrom Print Silk Square Scarf

What to wear to the opera to hit the perfect style note

Patricia @madamechicbcn above (read her style interview here) chooses a cohesive look that mixes burgundy and blue.

Check out this similar dress (other options here and here), pumps, belt (another option here), handbag, earrings, sunglasses and headband.

What to wear to the opera |

what to wear to the opera – Shop the opera outfits below:

Continue reading:

  1. How To Choose The Perfect Little Black Dress For Your Body Type
  2. What To Wear To A Cocktail Party
  3. What To Wear To A Concert: The Best Concert Outfits For Women Over 40

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What to wear to the opera to hit the perfect style note

Feature image by Patricia @madamechicbcn


Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. She is devoted to empowering women of any age to look and feel their best. Read more about Sylvia and 40+style on this page.

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