When a person attends his or her first opera, one of the first questions s/he asks is, “What should I wear?” This process often begins with a Google search: what to wear to the opera. Here’s some advice!

What to wear to the opera

What to wear to the opera

Opening weekend at San Francisco Opera
Photo credit: https://archives.sfweekly.com/exhibitionist/2011/09/13/opening-weekend-outfits-at-the-sf-opera

No, you don’t have to wear a bird hat (see image). In fact, if you don’t, the people sitting behind you will thank you for it.

In the U.S., there is no dress code for the opera. You’ll see it all, from jeans and T-shirts to tuxedos and ballgowns. When non-operagoers think about attending the opera, they tend to think of the latter because of the stereotypes reinforced by movies and television, but the truth is that you should go to the opera in clothing that makes you feel comfortable; remember that most operas last at least two and half hours, so you’ll be doing a lot of sitting! Many opera houses have relatively little leg room.

That said, many people think of attending the opera as a fun excuse to get gussied up. I myself fall into this category; I work from home, so I rarely have the need to wear anything that even comes close to the border of “nice,” so the opera is a good time to put on my suit or get a new sports jacket.

Layer! Opera houses can be cold or hot depending on the climate and time of year. Wear something that you can shed in case it’s warmer than you expected, or bring a sweater in case the opposite is true.

The bottom line is that I’ve never seen anyone in a ballgown sneer at anyone wearing a T-shirt, so don’t worry too much about your clothing. Operagoers tend to be passionate, enthusiastic folk who simply love opera and want to share that feeling with others around them. Go enjoy opera in whatever clothing you feel comfortable!

Featured image photo credit: https://www.closetstoadore.com/reach-in-closets/