The world-renowned opera extravaganza is back for the summer – and our curated local fashion guide will ensure your ensemble is pitch perfect.American theatre director Diane Paulus once described opera as the 'ultimate art form' because it has 'singing and music and drama and dance and emotion and story'. A night at the opera is indeed one of life's greatest pleasures: it's sheer escapism, a chance to witness exceptional talent – and the ultimate excuse to get dressed up. And if Royal Ascot is the apex of horse racing, then Glyndebourne is the peak operatic experience outside London. Glyndebourne Festival is the flagship event from the opera institution of the same name (which also runs an autumn season and year-round happenings). The festival was launched in spring 1934 by husband-and-wife duo John Christie and soprano Audrey Mildmay after they met and fell in love at Christie's historic estate in Glyndebourne. Every year the event brings world-class opera to about 150,000 people who descend upon the Sussex countryside in their finest evening wear. The etiquette and dress rules of the opera world may be a little intimidating on the surface, but Glyndebourne has a surprisingly relaxed dress code. Black tie is optional, and the institution encourages guests to dress up however they feel most comfortable. Simply put: there are no rules. Still, what could be more pleasurable than spending an evening enjoying the greats – Handel, Stravinsky, Britten and, of course, Mozart – while dressed to the nines? There's nothing quite like partaking in a picnic while wearing a full sequin dress and chandelier earrings, after all…
What to wear to Glyndebourne
FOR THE LADIES
What is it about a one-shoulder silhouette that just oozes glamour? This eye-catching green number from high street favourite Pinko is made from a floaty crepe fabric with a nipped-in waist to show off your curves while looking oh-so-elegant.
Marocain Crepe One-Shoulder Dress, £210, Pinko; available at Harvey Nichols, 109-125 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ
A night at the opera calls for a touch of drama, which is easily achieved through a pair of statement earrings. This beaded pair from H&M come in four different shades and are an absolute steal at £12.99 – so why not snap up all four?
Pendant Earrings, £12.99, H&M; 17-21 Brompton Road, SW3 1HY
Wedges are the perfect shoe for summer soirées. They provide the height of a heel but with the necessary comfort and stability for alfresco dining. These gorgeous designer espadrille wedges aren’t cheap, but they’ll last a lifetime and will go with everything in your wardrobe.
Paloma 95 Black Leather Espadrille Wedge Sandals, £740, Saint Laurent; available at Harvey Nichols, 109-125 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ
Sequins, silk, feathers, glitter… anything goes at the opera. A subtle way to add a touch of bling to your outfit is with an embellished clutch bag, such as this versatile accessory from Ted Baker that has a detachable chain strap.
Crysta Crystal Embellished Clutch, £90, Ted Baker; 75 Brompton Road, SW3 1DB
FOR THE GENTLEMEN
Every gentleman should own a classic pair of black Oxfords. The most hard-working and versatile of wardrobe essentials, they’re an investment that will see you through every formal occasion – including a night at the opera.
Consul 173 Calf Leather Oxford Black, £940, Church’s; 143 Brompton Road, SW3 1QP
Formalwear can be difficult to pull off when temperatures soar, so learn from the Italians, who opt for pastel shades and lightweight fabrics to look stylish and composed in Mediterranean heat. This beautiful blazer by Zegna is effortless to wear due to its relaxed fit. It’s made from a luxurious and breathable blend of linen, cotton and mulberry silk.
Linen-Blend Single-Breasted Blazer, £1,990, Zegna; available at Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, SW1X 7XL
As mentioned, black tie is optional at Glyndebourne but sometimes a date at the opera is a good excuse to throw on the tux. If your bow tie needs updating but you don’t want to break the bank, Zara sells a fantastic pure silk option for less than £20.
Silk Ottoman Bow Tie, £17.99, Zara; 79-83 Brompton Road, SW3 1DB