Tuesday, 28 May 2019

How to Dress for Glyndebourne

With its beautiful English country house, gardens and lake, Glyndebourne is one of the most quintessentially British places to visit, serving up unique productions of operas such as The Barber of Seville, Die Meistersinger, La Traviata and far too many more to list here, in its own gorgeously idiosyncratic way, frequently to a standing ovation.  No summer, for me anyway, is complete without a visit, preferably several.

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Opera at Glyndebourne is one of the last places where you’ll find 99% of the men wearing dinner jackets.  Yes you’ll see the odd suit and tie but you’re far more likely to see men and women wearing black tie and evening gowns picnicking among the roses, on one of the lawns, by the ha-ha or by the lake.  On a sunny afternoon or evening there is nowhere better.  Provided you enjoy opera.

The season is well under way and will end at the end of August.  If you want to catch one of this year’s productions then hop over to http://www.glyndebourne.com/ and see what tickets are left.  They always have returns as the date nears by the way so it’s worth checking regularly and booking couldn’t be easier.

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For the girls you have the choice of wearing long, midi or short, and it may depend on how many evenings you’re going and what else you’ll be wearing your dress for.  I always prefer to wear something midi or full length, after all there aren’t that many opportunities and who doesn’t love the chance to dress up.  Personally I think wide leg trousers, or trousers to Glyndebourne unless you really have to, are an abomination. 

You can dress up as much as you want although a meringue might make someone think you’re a member of the cast, depending on the opera.  I’d also stay away from satin or anything that drags on the ground or a dress that’s going to crease a lot, or something very tight – you’re going to be sitting down quite a bit but other than that you can be as dressed up as you like.

I’ve been to Glyndebourne when it’s too hot to picnic outside, when the rain has been sheeting sideways towards the terrace, and when I’ve needed a sheepskin jacket.  You simply can’t tell and need to be prepared for anything.  And when it's really bad weather fashion goes out of the window.  It's all about keeping dry/warm

If it’s pouring/windy/chilly you can bag a table on one of the terraces if you get there early enough, or you can rent a table at Leith’s picnic spot.  Alternatively you can order a full picnic or dine in one of the many formal and informal places to eat, just make sure you book early on.  I always take a picnic, and as we’re frequently a crowd I like to get a table on the terrace which makes life much easier.  But on a fine evening you’ll find the majority picnicking in the gardens.

Yes there are other places you can see opera, and many of them are in the countryside, but Glyndebourne is the very best there is so go if you can.  And please dress up.

Shoes:  If you wear stilettos or anything very high you’ll probably need a strong arm or run the risk of sinking into the ground if it’s been wet and quite possibly falling over backwards.  And your best heels may be ruined.  At least take a pair of wedges or low heels,  so that you can walk the grounds whatever the weather has been like.  And don’t forget to walk round the lake.  I’ve been known to do this barefoot so as not to damage my shoes.  Not a great look.

Wraps and Jackets:  Whatever you take make sure that if it’s chilly later on you can wrap up.  I always take a cashmere cardigan and large wrap, and have been known to picnic in a sheepskin jacket.  Well this is England, after all…..

A note of caution on what to wear for Glyndebourne…. A great deal of time at Glyndebourne (or any other country opera house or music festival for that matter) is spent sitting down, bending over to pack and unpack your picnic etc as well as strolling the grounds, glass of champagne in hand.  Whatever you want to wear make sure you’re comfortable.  It’s all too easy to zip yourself into a tight bodycon number and then find you end up feeling squeezed in every direction.  Try on your dress before you go, before anyone can say how great you look in it, and make sure it will work from driving to sitting to unpacking the picnic.  Let alone getting in and out of your car.  And I know these things…….