If I Could Turn Back Time… I’d Dress Up For La Bohème

1004-03Turning back the clock to September 1998. I was visiting my British boyfriend (let’s call him Mark), who had moved to Hong Kong for work from Taipei.

One night Mark came home from work and he told me he had bought tickets for us to see La Bohème the very next night at the Hong Kong Culture Centre. For someone like me who had never been to an opera, I was excited and at the same time, I didn’t know what to expect.
Soon the next day came. ‘Would the beige bodycon dress I packed for Hong Kong be good enough?’ I doubted it, and I had no other cocktail dress with me let alone a formal gown. So I took a trip to Pacific Place in Hong Kong island to see if I could find something amazing but in a reasonable price range.

After a hard search for the whole afternoon, I gave up. I couldn’t find anything I loved at an affordable price tag.
My Plan B, which was to go home and get changed into my beige dress, wouldn’t work by this point in time, because Mark lived near the fisherman’s village in Sai Kung District, New Territories, which means I had run out of travel time.
I panicked!
Being left without any other choice, I met Mark in my day outfit, which was this ensemble that you see in the photo. Don’t get me wrong, I love this look, but it was not the right choice for the opera.

Mark was lovely to me during my first opera experience. He explained everything that was happening on the stage to me. However, my mind was miles away… I was embarrassed with what I wore for the occasion. I wanted to dress up not dress down!
During the interval breaks between acts, we went to get refreshments. There, I spotted several young ladies in their fabulous evening gowns and I saw them looking back at me. I felt their judgement and I felt terrible!
I told Mark that I didn’t enjoy La Bohème. Clearly, I was so caught up worrying about what I wore that I missed out on what was happening that evening.
‘I guess that I’m not an opera fan!’ I said, without realizing my ‘dress down situation’ might have had some degree of negative impact on my La Bohème experience.

From 1998 to 2016 is a long time, but I still have my La Bohème ticket and the theatre program.., obviously, it was a special night out for me.
Would it make a big difference if I had worn a gorgeous gown then? Maybe; maybe not, who knows?!
From my night out at La Bohème, I’ve learnt at least two lessons: Always pack a glamorous outfit with you when going away – an occasion might come without any notice. And, if all else fails, don’t let a dress (or lack of the right one) stand between you and a great night out – it’s not worth it!

Photography by: Road Wang


  1. i love the last line. it may be hard to ignore people’s opinions sometimes but the thing is, we don’t know them and they don’t know us so at the end of the day, we are just that random, nameless stranger who wore something weird but had a wonderful time anyway. at least that’s what i try to tell myself when i’m not exactly happy with my sartorial decisions. =)

  2. Would not be a problem in Sydney; I’ve seen plenty of men who would be wearing a suit during the day turn up in Black Tee, Black Pants.. a bit too laid back if you ask me!

    PS I think they were secretly jealous; you may have let your worries get the better of you..

    • Yes I think T-shirts are too laid back for theatre. I’ve seen people wearing blue jeans to ballet and I don’t like it.

      You know me Kent.., I told you that I thought I didn’t dress up enough at the previous event we attended…

  3. Isn’t it interesting the way we humans get caught up in worrying and writing scripts for what we imagine other people are thinking. I wonder if maybe Vivienne the ladies in the evening gowns were not looking at you with envy for how fab and different you looked in the above ensemble.

  4. Couldn’t agree more though I suspect that whatever you wore you would look stunning. Recently I have been helping my daughter find the perfect prom dress. I found the one! She is so happy with it. Perhaps I will do a little piece about her prom in July to show my readers – it really is a stunning dress. I’m fascinated how all her friends are going to look on the day – they all are very individual and their looks will be different reflecting their personalities.

    • Thank you for your feedback and compliments Marje.
      I think that it’d be great if you could write a post about your daughter’s prom.., what she wears; what are her friends wearing and how/where did you pick the right dress/gown for her… All of this can be something interesting to read as we are fascinated by beautiful dresses! Don’t you think?! X

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