How To Dress for Black Tie Events

Wearing formal wear

The phrase black tie in an invitation causes anxiety in some people. Suddenly, they don't want to attend the event. And that's just because they don't have any idea how to put together a black tie outfit. But a black tie event should not be that intimidating. In fact, it should be taken as an opportunity to look regal and sophisticated. Although it is not that simple to create a black tie ensemble, it can be successfully done. Here are some rules to observe.

  • Base your dress on the party's formality. This means that the more formal the event is, the more formal and elegant the dress should be. Thus, if you are attending an event with politicians and state officials, a highly sophisticated dress is called for. The dress, in essence, should show all the elements of a black tie outfit. But if it is a birthday party or a wedding, a more relaxed black tie outfit will do. In this case, variations are allowable for as long as the dress fits the black tie definition.
  • Dress modestly. Women should especially observe modesty. In this age when women have a lot of style options, it is very easy to compromise modesty. But as a respect to the host and the nature of the event, a black tie outfit should be chosen or worn with modesty in mind. Any body part that does not need exposure should be appropriately covered or hidden.
  • Consider black tie variations. There are sartorial experts who stick to the traditional definition of black tie-tuxedo for men and long gown for women-although the modern era has provided a leeway and included dinner jackets and short dresses in the black tie definition to avoid leaving out those who can't afford tux and long gowns. But this makes things all the more confusing. So to avoid dress blunders, it is best to ask your host what kind of black tie variation is generally expected. Foreseeing confusion, your host might have even indicated in the invitation other black tie options: black tie optional (host expects ultra formal wear but does not insist) and black tie preferred (host expects ultra formal wear but gives leeway to those who can't afford or, for some reason, can't put together such an outfit).
  • Look for an ensemble to copy. If you have a vague idea of the black tie outfit look or don't have any ability to mix and match, the best thing you can do is to look for model ensembles in fashion magazines and websites. Things to look at in a male black tie outfit: tuxedos, shirts, ties or bowties, cummerbund, and shoes. For women outfits, take a closer look at the dress styles, silhouettes, fabrics, embellishments, accessories, and shoes. Then, choose the outfits or the elements of different outfits that you think will look best on you. Have a photo of each of the ensembles and bring the photos to your seamstress or to the shop where you intend to buy your black tie outfit.

Although it is important to look stylish, comfort should be your foremost priority when wearing a black tie outfit. It should allow you to confidently move around and get you through the whole event. After all, what good is a black tie outfit if you cannot sashay with it all night?


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