Black Tie Dress Code


Second only to the rarer White Tie in formality, Black Tie traditionally means tuxedos for men and elegant gowns for women.  This is a style that’s very formal, classy, and somewhat conservative — and only seen after 6pm.

For the ladies

Here you want an outfit that’s utterly dressy and formal, and just a little bit less flamboyantly glittery than you’d wear to the opera.  A long, sleeveless dress of silk or satin would be ideal; a comparable shorter cocktail dress would also work.  Consider the length and general glitz threshold of the event you’re attending, and adjust your elaborateness factor accordingly, on a scale from “elbow-length satin gloves and a stole” to “just a little black dress.”  The later in the evening the event will take place, the lower your neckline and dress back may be.  Your jewelry and accessories should be elegant and alluring without being altogether flashy. Black Tie Dress Code

For the guys

Unless the invite says that Black Tie is optional or simply preferred, this means go tux or go home.  And this is not the time for your dad’s powder blue tuxedo or the red cummerbund from your wedding; we’re talking a formal black tuxedo, black bowtie, white shirt and optional black cummerbund.  Consider some elegant cufflinks, and definitely go with formal black shoes.

Rules of Thumb

  • Choose your accessories wisely; they should complement your outfit without distracting from it.
  • Ladies, this is a time when shapewear could really come in handy.
  • Guys, feel free to break out the pocket squares if they wouldn’t be too flashy for the occasion.
  • Don’t forget dress outerwear if the event is in winter!  Your coat, gloves, and scarf should all be your most formal.
  • If the invitation says, “Black Tie Optional,” you may either follow the guidelines above or opt for simple formal attire.