Dress Code Guide: What Does Black Tie Mean?

Couple dressed for an event with a black tie, the man wears a tuxedo and the woman wears an elegant dressViorel Sima / Shutterstock

Do you have an invitation to a black tie event and you want to make sure you are well dressed? We are here to help you.

The black tie is perhaps the most formal evening dress code, but for many people, it's the most formal that they will need to dress. White tie invitations are rare unless you are rich, famous or in politics. But chances are you'll be invited to a black tie event at some point in your life.

Never scared! Dress codes are often easier to navigate than occasional codes, although clothes are usually more expensive. While terms likedressed casual " leave room for interpretation, black tie gives you clear boundaries as to what you can wear. Keep this guide as a reference so you can impress everyone the next time you attend a black tie party.

Black tie: a definition

The black tie is sometimes called the dress code "tux" or "tuxedo" because that's what men have to wear.

The tuxedos appeared in the mid-19th century, providing a casual alternative to the coats of tail. (At the time, even casual clothes were much more sophisticated than today.) But after the First World War, the autumn ball at Tuxedo Park in New York gave the garment both its name and his fame. The ball was traditionally a white tie affair, but the dress code was replaced by the less formal tuxedo after the war.

The tuxedos were originally designed to find a balance between casual suits and formal evening jackets. They were first called "dinner jackets" because they were perfect for informal parties (the term is still used today).

Nowadays, tuxedos and other black tie clothes are reserved for very formal events, as dress codes have evolved into the casual style. You may not need this knowledge often, but it's helpful to know how to dress to impress at a party with a black tie.

When to wear a black tie

You never need to wear a black tie unless it is specifically requested. Black-tie events may include:

Formal weddings
Formal dinners

Black tie events are sometimes referred to as "black tie" to distinguish them from less formal events.optional black tie. "Other invitations may say" Favorite Black Tie "or" Black Tie Requested ". At these events, men must wear a tuxedo (if they can afford it) or a dark suit (if they can not). However, if you only see "black tie" as a dress code, you must assume that this is necessary.

The "Creative Black Tie" is a similar dress code option. This means that you must always follow the rules of black tie, but you can be creative with colors, fabrics and interesting trends.

In many black tie events, some guests mistakenly interpret the dress code as "formal". Even though the hosts will hopefully understand that people are undressing accidentally, it is best not to be one of these people. usual!

Black tie for women

The dress code in black tie obviously emphasizes the tuxedo. Women have a little more ease because the same dresses and dresses are often suitable for official events, black tie and white tie. You should wear a long dress or a cocktail dress.

Although silhouettes along the length of the floor are the most common, a short but sophisticated cocktail dress will often suit an event with a black tie. You might even be able to create a black tie look by using formal outfits, like a long skirt with a pretty blouse. However, it is difficult to do without looking too casual, so avoid it.

No matter what color will work, but if you go for the white, make sure it does not look like a wedding dress (and of course, never wear white for a wedding). Black, other dark colors and jewelry tones are always safe choices.

Even though the dress code is formal, events with a black tie can lean towards the more formal or casual. For traditional events, you may want to opt for classic designs, but for other occasions – such as creative black tie events – you can have fun with the interesting trends in your dress or accessories. Whatever the case may be, make sure your dress is snug and made with high quality fabric.

Heels are traditional, but if you can not or do not want to wear them for the health of your feet, flat shoes can work. Add jewelry, gloves, clutches and other classic accessories to enhance your look. The hair can be up or down, and the makeup can be what you want as long as it is polite.

If it's cold, be sure to invest in a dressy overcoat, in a pretty wrap-around or in a shawl. Let your jacket practice at home!

Black tie for men

Men do not have as many options as women here. If the dress code says black tie, you must wear a tuxedo. But even in a tuxedo, you can express your personal style.

First, there is the color of your tuxedo. While black is traditional, dark blue is a great alternative if you want something different. The white dinner jackets stand out in the crowd and work well in the summer. Different colors and fabrics, and even some patterns, can be useful for a creative black tie opportunity.

Then there is the material: a velvet jacket instead of a traditional fabric looks vintage and interesting. You can also choose from different lapel styles, such as the structured "top" or the minimalist "shawl".

Your pants should match your jacket, with a few exceptions. For example, you should wear classic pants with a velvet jacket or black pants with a white jacket. Make sure you have your custom tuxedo, including the pants, so that its length and fit are perfect. A narrow cut creates the perfect balance between modern and classic.

You will usually wear a simple white shirt and a black bow tie. Make sure to choose a dress shirt with holes for the cufflinks: this is not your everyday buttonhole. If the dress code says "creative black tie", you can wear a black dress shirt, a red bow tie or any other fashionable variant. For a more formal event, you can show a little personality with a unique bowtie. However, avoid wearing a white bow tie unless it is a white tie event.

Vests are optional and should match your tuxedo (plain black is traditional, but textured fabrics or other dark colors can add variety). If you do not wear a vest, you may be wearing a belt that fits your bowtie, but both are slowly becoming an option for events with a black tie. Make sure to wear one or the other for the most formal occasions in black tie.

City shoes in polished patent leather, such as oxford shoes, are a safe choice, but you can also choose more creative options, such as classic velvet slippers. Wear socks that fit your pants. You should definitely wear cufflinks, but other accessories, such as a dress watch or a handkerchief, are optional. Keep the accessories simple and classic.

In winter, you can also add a formal coat to your look. In all seasons, impeccably styled hair and facial hair are essential.

For most people, black tie invitations are relatively rare. If you are lucky enough to get one, use it to do your best. By expressing yourself according to the rules of the black tie, you may find that dressing up for formal events can be fun.

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