Receiving an invitation for a Black Tie wedding is exciting, but deciding what’s appropriate to wear can be a tricky process.
We’re here to help with a few recommendations, tips, and reminders for how to dress when the dress code is Black Tie.
Black Tie is a formal dress code. First off: No, you do not have to actually wear a black tie, but correct formal attire is necessary. When couples indicate that their guests should be in Black Tie attire, it is important to follow the guidelines so that their day and photos are beautiful, and so that you feel comfortable and appropriately dressed for the event. It not only shows respect towards your hosts, but gives you the opportunity to dress to the nines and have some fun!
For men, Black Tie attire can be considered as sticking to the formal basics. For a semi-formal event, a sport jacket would be a great option. However, for a formal occasion where Black Tie attire is requested, we recommend wearing a full dark-toned suit or tuxedo.
The Classic Tuxedo
A tuxedo is usually the preferred option for a formal Black Tie event. Wearing a tux simplifies curating an outfit. If you do not own a great-fitting tuxedo, we recommend connecting with a great rental shop like Louie’s Tux Shop or Ivry Lane Gown and Tuxedo.
Tip: Ensure you wear an appropriate white shirt under your tux. Button down collars and pocketed shirts are not appropriate under a tuxedo.
A well-tailored suit is also an appropriate option for a Black Tie event. Typically, you’ll want to opt for a dark-tone, as it’s more appropriate for formal affairs. Your dinner jacket and pants should color match, unless you are purposefully going for a statement, contrasting look. A silk-lapel dinner jacket is always a safe option, but velvet or luxe textured materials are great ways to sport an even more elevated look.
Tip: If you are wearing a two button jacket, only secure the top button.
Your Classic Shirt
A crisp collared shirt is an absolute must underneath either your suit or tuxedo. A crisp white dress shirt is the preferred option. If you’re wearing a tuxedo, your shirt should ideally feature a Marcella bib front, either a classic turndown collar or wing collar, and double cuffs. A wing collar shirt should only be worn with a bowtie, and is considered more formal.
If a white dress shirt with these attributes is not in your closet, you can opt for a light neutral color or another style, but note that it will bring the formality of your look down a notch.
Tip: Ironing with starch goes a long way. Whatever your look, ensure it’s perfectly pressed and clean. If your tuxedo shirt has stud holes, cufflinks are a must.
Shoes and Accessories
Dress shoes are the expectation for an occasion like this. Depending on the event, loafers, derbies or monk straps will do. Black shoes should be the first consideration. Traditionally, black patent shoes should be worn with a tuxedo. If your overall outfit allows for a different color of shoes, ensure that they are well-polished and sleek.
For your tie, you’ll want to opt for a bow tie or a sleek neutral straight tie. If wearing a suit, your shoes and belt should match. Your socks should match your pants.
Tip: If you are wanting to fully elevate your look, consider velvet dress shoes, a vest or cummerbund (never wear together), and cufflinks.
Black Tie attire for women traditionally means a full-length gown, an appropriate tea-length dress or cocktail dress, or a formal suit. A sundress, mini dress, or even your “Sunday best” is not quite appropriate for a Black Tie event.
A long gown is the ideal option if you’re invited to a Black Tie wedding, particularly if it is held in the evening. An elegant tea-length or cocktail length dress or a formal suit would also be acceptable in this setting. Depending on the season, locale, and venue the silhouette of the dress can vary, but opt for a luxurious fabric and appropriate accessories. Black Tie events are the perfect opportunity to wear silk, satin, velvet, chiffon, and elevated beaded pieces.
Colors and Style
When attending a Black Tie event, it’s important to be mindful of the style of your outfit. Very short dresses, large cut-outs, and otherwise distractingly revealing outfits are not appropriate. For Black Tie weddings, color is important. White, off-white, and any color resembling white should be completely off the table (as is true for any wedding). We also recommend avoiding the bridesmaids’ color scheme. Overall, stick with classic, elegant and timeless.
Tip: Ensure not only your outerwear looks stunning (this includes an appropriate shawl or shrug) but also that you have comfortable and fitting undergarments for your look. We recommend taking the time for a 360° view of your outfit before heading out the door!
Your jewelry can truly bring your look together. Sparkling pieces that compliment your outfit are perfect for a black tie occasion. Diamonds and pearls are always a safe go-to, but non-precious jewelry pieces, in good condition, are also appropriate.
Tip: Take the time to clean and shine your jewelry before an event to be confident you’re looking your best!
Elegant Footwear and Handbags
If you’re attending a Black Tie wedding, the ceremony and reception are most likely in a formal location. Wearing heels or sandals with simple coloring and details, slim straps, or small accents will elevate your look. Ensure your shoes are comfortable or purchase inserts, as removing shoes at any point is not really appropriate for a Black Tie wedding.
Your every day purse will not do in a situation like this. A simple clutch or delicate handbag that compliments your ensemble is the perfect way to finish your look.
Tip: If wearing an open-toed shoe, properly groomed toes are a must. (Enjoy the excuse to book a pedicure!)
Depending on your own personal style and outfit, you may explore a few different choices for hair and makeup; but if you’ve been invited to a Black Tie event, this is your chance to go all out! Updos, chignons, or beautiful flowing curls are all acceptable hair looks. For makeup, we recommend choosing one statement feature. A beautiful smoky eye or a bold red lip are classic options.
Tip: Don’t forget plentiful hairspray and makeup setting spray to ensure you look flawless for the duration of the event!
For both male and female guests, note that your attire should not upstage the guests of honor. Stay away from loud prints and colors. For women, remember that this is one of the most significant days of the bride’s life. Understand cascading diamonds, cut-out gowns, or anything that is even slightly similar to bridal style should be avoided. If you are unsure if your look is at all questionable, ask the bride or a bridesmaid well in advance. Most importantly, make sure that the outfit you curated is something you are comfortable in and proud to wear. Enjoy the event while dressed your very best and have fun!!