Stylish Opera Attire
This year Peter and I had the pleasure of attending The Ring opera cycle at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
When we received the invitation from a family member, we of course said yes, and I immediately thought of stylish opera attire. What dresses, shoes, and accessories would I wear? What items I would need to buy versus what I already owned?
There are bound to be a few occasions that come up in your life where you’ll need special clothing that you might not already own. This was one of those moments. You’ll read more about it below, but The Ring cycle is an opera that takes place over four days! So I didn’t just need to put together one opera outfit but four!
Opera Dress Code
Before getting my attire for the opera, I researched proper opera dress code. What I discovered is that there is not a dress code per se, but more a “suggested” opera attire.
This opera series was also a little special because it was a four-night affair. The first day of The Ring cycle is not as fancy as the second or third. For example: Peter wore a suit for the first day but wore a tuxedo for the second and third day. The last day was also a little more casual (albeit glamorous).
In addition to the opera, the city in which it takes place also has a lot to do with the dress code. We attended this cycle in Washington, D.C., so we assumed it would be a little fancier. This turned out to be somewhat true. The opera attire varied wildly from denim jeans to full-on gowns and fur wraps.
From what I observed and discovered, there is not a set opera dress code. The main rule to follow is to dress how you feel comfortable. I love to dress up and if an event comes up where I can dress fancier than I do day-to-day, you bet I’m going to rise to the occasion.
Overall, I found that it’s more cocktail attire than gala event. But do your research before deciding what to wear.
My Opera Outfit
I own several fancy dresses but I wanted to put together some special opera outfits for this occasion, so I partnered with Rent the Runway for my opera attire.
Rent the Runway rents out designer clothing and accessories. Instead of going out and spending thousands of dollars on clothing you might not wear again, you can opt for a short-term rental. You’ll look gorgeous for your special occasion without having to spend what you would have if you purchased the items. This is a wonderful solution for occasions such as these.
For the second night of the opera, I wore this incredibly gorgeous Monique Lhuillier dress, Ella Carter statement earrings, and strappy heels that I already owned from Sole Society.
I wanted my opera attire to look elegant and stylish but still have youthful elements to it. I loved this opera dress because of the crisscross back, high neckline, beaded waistline, and full skirt. The A-line shape of the dress accentuates my waist and the cut of the top half helps broaden my shoulders, which helps balance the wider bottom half.
I didn’t wear much in the way of accessories because the dress already had some glamorous elements to it, so a pair of statement earrings and dainty watch completed this outfit.
Stay tuned for more opera-wearable ensembles. I will share two more outfit posts with what I wore to this opera series. I didn’t get to photograph the last outfit of the opera but I will share what I wore on the first and third day.
German composer Richard Wagner’s The Ring cycle consists of The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie, Siegfried and Twilight of the Gods. The most famous portion—and the music you might be most familiar with—is “The Ride of the Valkyries.”
This series of four separate evenings spans a total of fifteen hours! (So make sure you are comfortable sitting in your outfit for long periods of time!) It’s a rare occurrence in the U.S., given its length and the cost of 4 tickets, not to mention taking up almost a week’s worth of evenings!
Based on Norse mythology, the story line is not so terribly different from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and involves mortals, dwarves, and mythical creatures, as well as…a ring. Given that this cycle took place in the U.S., the characterizations had been made more contemporary, feeling more like Gatsby’s Roaring ’20s than ancient times.
This was my first time going to the opera, much like Coachella, and it was initiation by fire. All or nothing! I’m excited and happy to say that I very much enjoyed the entire experience. I wasn’t sure what to expect and went in with an open mind.
If you have the opportunity to attend the amazing Ring Cycle and do like opera, I would highly recommend it! We tied this experience with travel. It was our first time in Washington, D.C. so during the day we explored the city and visited various museums.
Shop the Look
Shoes from Sole Society // Monique Lhuillier Dress from Rent the Runway // Ella Carter Earrings from Rent the Runway