Last weekend my friend Max was lovely enough to get tickets to La Boheme at the Metropolitan Opera. For those of you who are not yet Cher-pilled enough to understand the significance of this, it’s the same show and location to which Nicolas Cage brings her as the ultimate act of seduction in one of the best films of all time, Moonstruck. Unfortunately, Cher brazenly spoils the opera in the movie, so I knew what was gonna happen (the leading lady dies of TB, sorry), but was still thrilled by the incredible sets, dashing tenors, and the REAL LIVE HORSE they dragged out for just one 30-second long appearance on stage.
After getting Covid myself (though fully vaccinated) and experiencing an as-of-yet-unending hangover of fatigue and aches, compounded by the aforementioned SAD, I have experienced an intense desire for some healthy drama to be injected into my bland, quotidian dallying. The strength of the opera is that in its structure and traditions, it separates emotions from the humans ostensibly experiencing them and objectifies them in sound. This is not a particularly trendy way of creating media about emotions, as currently society favors subtlety, realism, nuance, and method acting over explicit, spelled-out emotional journeys as evidenced by the oft-repeated actors’ mantra: “show, don’t tell!” The opera tells you exactly how you’re supposed to feel at every bend in the curve, instructing you to first deplore then forgive the gold-digging Musetta, to spend an act in suspended horror as Mimi deteriorates, to believe in a love at first sight based off nothing but the couple’s mutual appreciation of their hotness…
This dissociative and prescriptive treatment of emotions is a valiant coping mechanism that I am currently attempting to harness to get me through the rest of this cruel season. These suggestions are both clothes that you could conceivably wear to the opera and garments that, even worn to the bodega, could facilitate this emotional mentality in their audacity, surreality, and sheer romance. It’s about crazy necklines, proportion play, VELVET, memorable shapes, and an interplay between horror and whimsy.
I will exit this intro with an image of one of my favorite tweeters, Rax King (her book, Tacky, is well worth a read), who gave me her blessing to use this image as an example of an Opera Outfit. This would still be Opera if she were on her way to watch a children’s production of Bye-Bye, Birdie. The patchwork fur coat, which I simply could not find a dupe of, belonged to her gangster’s moll of a grandma, I believe, and is Opera incarnate. The black dress, the slit, the extremely utilitarian garter… just looking at this picture, I feel the scum of weltschmerz on my soul flaking off and anthropomorphizing into a soprano who knows she’s dying but will be DAMNED if she doesn’t sing about it until the bitter end.
If the bow were an inch smaller, this dress wouldn’t work. Its immensity is comical to the point of acquiring a strange majesty. The straight silhouette and bubble hem are its perfect compliments.
The crewneck makes this dot of a top feel totally wearable, while maintaining its intrigue and drama.
This neckline BEGS for a necklace (see below) and is 100% up Loretta from Moonstruck‘s alley.
Another godly velvet neckline, this one in a more traditional silhouette that still imparts extreme drama–would be perfect for a family function at which you plan to announce you’re getting your tubes tied, or adopting a teenager, or converting to Catholicism.
Velvet always, jewel-toned green to make it exciting, sparkly cowboy boots optional but wise.
This dress imparts the tragic beauty of a ballet star in mourning. Would fit well into the funeral scene in Santa Sangre.
Especially effective if you, like the model, have collarbone tats. When in doubt, dress like a 2022 version of the characters on stage.
This is The Opera Dress. The Phantom himself would want to bite your style.
The High Notes
Lush and unavoidably romantic, perfect to pair with one of the delicious necklines above.
Though Opera Fashion is not about understatement, there is something special about this simple piece. The khaki ribbon is unexpected and the material looks slightly iridescent.
The headwear god Hurtence really went off with this one. Oilskin is a bizarre fabric, perfect for this headpiece that will leave the people seated behind you in the theater a bit agog but grateful it’s easy to see over.
These are lingerie that you can wear with no shame in public. Would give anything for my feet to be able to handle them.
Opera gloves are a stuffy, impractical classic, keep the impracticality but eschew the stuffiness in favor of oceanic or volcanic surreality. Still wash your hands when you pee at intermission, though.
Another perfect shoe, giving the illusion you could hop on pointe at any given second.
For obvious reasons.
For pragmatic reasons.
The All-Important Coat
This is the closest thing I could find to Rax’s coat. Cozy moll energy.
Nothing more luxurious and decadent than ivory mohair.
In my headcanon, Ronny buys this for Loretta on their first Valentine’s day together.
Hearty, well-made, and ready for an impromptu frolic to Cafe Momus on the coldest night of the year with the hot neighbor you just met and declared your undying love for when you were really just trying to find someone to light your candle.
Colored velvet is always the right choice. Blah blah something about Lynch blah blah
I have featured this jacket before in a completely different context but that’s just because it is perfect in any context. Regal and badass in equal parts.
I’m not a huge shearling fan but the NECK on this guy is stupendous, and it looks so cozy!
If I saw someone wearing this in a day-to-day context, I’d declare MY undying love to them on the basis of their sartorial choices alone.
A Practical Detail
You MUST have opera glasses! If that soprano isn’t REALLY CRYING while she pretends to die, storm out of the theater in a huff!
I hope you have many moments of the good kind of drama to spice up the remaining days of this soggy season. Hit me up on instagram @humanrepeller if you have any questions, comments, critiques, or soliloquies (I especially welcome proclamations of undying love on the basis of my clothing suggestions alone).