15 Fancy Outfit Ideas for a Night at the Opera

It's the perfect opportunity to dress up.

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

If you’re accustomed to a daily wardrobe of T-shirts and jeans (or even the occasional maxi skirt), going to the opera is an excuse to pull out a few fancy garments waiting in the back of your closet. Similar to the style connotations of going to the ballet or a gala, hearing the word opera conjures up thoughts of stunning gowns and elbow-length gloves, most opera houses don't have a strict dress code. However, in most cases, you’ll want to leave the denim and casual tops at home and opt for a semi-formal or formal ensemble instead. Cocktail dresses or midi skirts will instantly give your outfit a sophisticated appearance, but if you prefer more coverage, a pantsuit or embellished jumpsuit will also work for an opera outing.


Whichever garment you choose, you can easily elevate your opera look by opting for luxe fabrics (such as satin or silk), structured necklines, and modest skirt lengths (think midi and tea-length).

Whether you’ve never been to the opera or frequent the theater nearly every month, we’ve compiled a list of outfits you can take inspiration from for an elegant yet eye-catching look.

A Black Slip Dress + Faux Fur Coat

<p>Gotham/GC Images</p>

Gotham/GC Images

Taylor Swift is known to favor a black evening outfit, and we think this particular ensemble is perfect for a night out at the opera. Slipping on a simple black dress immediately gives your look an air of elegance, especially when paired with a matching faux fur coat. Even with a monochrome palette, you can elevate this ensemble by accessorizing with sling-back heels and a statement clutch.

A Sequin Skirt

<p>Christian Vierig/Getty Images</p>

Christian Vierig/Getty Images

For a look that feels effortlessly glamorous, reach for a sequin skirt in a bold hue. While this orange garment is an eye-catching choice, you can still dress it up or down, depending on your needs. If you’re attending an evening show, pair your sequin skirt with a matching top and ankle-strap heels for an extra touch of glamour. On the other hand, a matinee calls for a slightly more casual top, such as a white button-down shirt and flats.

Bow Details

<p>Edward Berthelot/Getty Images</p>

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

A bow is a fun and flirty addition to any outfit, whether you’re wearing it in your hair, on your dress, or both! For the opera, we love the idea of a tea-length dress with a large bow detail attached to the front. If you prefer subtle bow details, you can also opt for a dress with bow embroidery or a small waist detail. Keep accessories simple by pairing your dress with pointed-toe heels and a tennis necklace.

A Red Cocktail Dress

<p>Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images</p>

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

If it was seen on the Barbie red carpet, then chances are we’re dying to recreate it. This red cocktail dress America Ferrera wore in London is equal parts sophisticated and bold. The midi length and long sleeves perfectly juxtapose the vibrant hue, which makes it a tasteful choice for an opera outing. Amplify the bold red color of your dress by adding red pumps and matching chunky earrings.

An Embellished Jumpsuit

<p>Patricia Schlein/Star Max/GC Images</p>

Patricia Schlein/Star Max/GC Images

Favor a more neutral color palette? You can never go wrong with a black wide-leg jumpsuit. Sequin embellishments will give the jumpsuit some oomph for a night out but aren’t too over the top. If you opt for a short-sleeved or sleeveless design, consider layering your look with a black blazer to keep you warm inside the theater.

A Pleated Dress

<p>Edward Berthelot/Getty Images</p>

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

If you’re searching for an easy last-minute look, opt for a pleated maxi dress. Not only is it extremely quick to slip on, but the pleats give the design some dimension, so it looks fancy even in a neon purple hue. Add some sparkle to the ensemble by accessorizing with chandelier earrings and embellished heels that will look so chic peeking out from under your dress.

A Classic Pansuit + Bold Heels

<p>Edward Berthelot/Getty Images</p>

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Though dresses are the go-to outfit for an opera show, you can also sport a sophisticated pantsuit if that is more in line with your style. Opt for a double-breasted blazer and wide-leg pants for a suit that feels timeless but still has a dramatic flair. To add a pop of color, style the look with blue pumps and mixed metal jewelry.

A Velvet Dress

<p>Bennett Raglin/Getty Images</p>

Bennett Raglin/Getty Images

Attending an opera in the winter? Consider a velvet midi dress in a jewel tone like purple. The textured fabric will keep you warm and instantly gives your ensemble a luxe appearance. Take some inspiration from SJP’s bold evening style and pair your dress with a white embroidered coat and peep-toe heels fashioned with bows.

A Full Skirt + Sheer Gloves

<p>Edward Berthelot/Getty Images</p>

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Embrace Old Hollywood glamour by combining a full white skirt with sheer gloves. While gloves are a statement piece we rarely see anymore in everyday fashion, we think the opera is the ideal time to bring out this accessory. As for the rest of your outfit, the possibilities are endless; you can opt for a black long-sleeve blouse and kitten heels or create a matching set with a white halter top and pumps.

A Leather Dress

<p>Edward Berthelot/Getty Images</p>

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

An edgy fashion sense has a place at the opera if you prefer leather over satin. Consider a leather dress with a midi length or corset bodice for an ultra-cool yet sophisticated outfit. To take the look a step further, style your dress with a matching leather coat and black studded heels. You can also accessorize with pumps in a deep burgundy or emerald hue if you'd prefer a pop of color.

A Statement Coat

<p>Claudio Lavenia/Getty Images</p>

Claudio Lavenia/Getty Images

Occasionally the accessories are the outfit, and that’s definitely the case with this bold pink look. If you’re drawn to the idea of a pink statement coat, which can be a simple trench coat or a more glamorous faux fur coat, consider styling it with tights and pumps in varying shades of pink. It’s an easy way to elevate a monochrome look for a fresh yet elegant ensemble.

A Satin Dress

<p>Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images</p>

Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images

Whether you’re a frequent opera-goer or not, a satin dress is a versatile option that exudes elegance and can be worn on various occasions post-show. A one-shoulder design in a vibrant purple hue adds a flirty touch to the classic look and pairs well with equally playful accessories, such as wrap heels and a chainmail bag.

A Metallic Dress

<p>Claudio Lavenia/Getty Images</p>

Claudio Lavenia/Getty Images

Take the work out of styling an outfit by opting for a brilliant metallic dress. Gold offers just the right amount of shine for a night out at the opera and looks even more elegant when paired with a maxi silhouette. Gold accessories, including ankle-strap heels and drop earrings, will take this look to the next level.

A High-Neck Dress

<p>Edward Berthelot/Getty Images</p>

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

A neckline can instantly change the look of a dress, and what could be more sophisticated than a black dress with a high neckline? It’s fitting for a more formal opera show and looks fantastic when paired with an asymmetrical skirt and gold accents for a playful twist on a classic design. Style the dress with gold ankle-strap heels and matching teardrop earrings for a cohesive look.

A Wrap Dress

<p>Christian Vierig/Getty Images for Ermanno Scervino</p>

Christian Vierig/Getty Images for Ermanno Scervino

Have an abundance of wrap dresses in your closet? Pull out your fanciest one for a chic and simple opera look. We're partial to a wrap dress in a bold pink hue, which will make your outfit appear more intriguing. If your ensemble is still feeling too casual for a night show, dress it up by accessorizing with platform heels and an embellished shoulder bag.

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