Black Tie Dress Code

Man in a tuxedo for black tie dress code

The most formal events require a black tie dress code. Black tie can be interpretated in various ways but there are traditonal components to be aware of before attending a formal function requiring black tie dress.

Elements of Black Tie Dress Code

Black tie is tradional formal attire that is worn to an event that occurs in the evening or after six o'clock. Formal and semi-formal events call for black tie and it may also be clearly stated on an invititation. Some common black tie events include:

  • Weddings
  • Opening night at the opera
  • Captain's dinner on a cruise
  • Fundraising dinners and events
  • Awards ceremonies
  • Holiday parties

For basic, elegant black tie attire, the following components should be worn:

  • Black tuxedo consisting of a black dinner jacket with a ribbed silk or satin lapel and black dress slacks that have either a satin or silk stripe down the leg
  • Black silk bow tie
  • Black waistcoat or cummerbund
  • White dress shirt with a pleated or ribbed front
  • Black knee high or calf length dress socks
  • Black shoes in either patent leather or a highly polished leather
  • A white dinner jacket is suitable when the weather is warmer

Accessories should be kept to a minimum. A handkerchief in the breast pocket or a boutonniere in the buttonhole are both acceptable. Jewelry should be limited to a wristwatch or pocketwatch and a ring.

Where to Shop

Many men do not own their own tuxedo and choose to rent at a formalwear store at a local bridal shop such as David's Bridal. There are also stores that specialize in tuxedo rentals including Tuxedo Junction and After Hours Formalwear. Keep in mind that for you to look your best in any formal attire, you need to get properly fitted for your tuxedo. Pants need to have the right inseam and waist measurements and jackets need to fit in the shoulders, back and arms.


There are many brands of formalwear available. Some popular tuxedo designers include:

Black Tie Considerations

Just like any other dress code, there are rules to keep in mind when dressing for a black tie affair. You should avoid anything overly flashy, elaborate or unusual. Black tie dress code is formal and requires you to dress in a specific manner. If you are in doubt about what is required, contact the host or hostess of the event and ask them questions.

Black Tie Variations

Often there may be other variations of black tie. Variations include:

  • Black tie optional means you have the option of wearing a tuxedo. A dark suit and tie is your other choice.
  • Creative black tie lends for a trendy interpretation of formal attire. It is acceptable to wear a more modern styled tuxedo or a black shirt instead of white. It is also acceptable to not wear a tie when it calls for creative black tie dress. The style can reflect your own personality and be as original as you.

White tie is reserved for the most formal affairs. White tie is full dress with white vest, tie and shirt. It is worn at State dinners, balls, weddings and artistic premiers. Black tie has become more common attire than white tie.

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Black Tie Dress Code