Imagine this, you get an invitation to an event, and you have not really found the time to be bothered to read through your invite, and now it is almost time for it, and you are not sure what to wear. You pick up the invite again, and you see these words boldly written at the bottom: Dress Code: Black-tie. But you have no clue what that means.
And so, you panic, as anyone in their right mind should, because, in your head, you are probably asking yourself, “What is a black-tie dress code?”. But here’s the thing, each event has its specific dress code, whether it is a carnival, graduation, wedding, or funeral—the role of a dress code is mainly uniformity which translates primarily to beauty or aesthetics.
When guests dress in the specific dress code, it creates a sense of “belonging” among the crowd in attendance. And it sure can leave you feeling out of place if you are not adequately dressed or properly adhering to the code. It is important to stick to whatever dress code is stipulated for whatever event you wish to attend.
But then it can be tricky remembering all the many dress codes for these events, so it pays if you had a trusted resource to consult whenever you have such confusion. Lucky you, that is where I come in; I am here for all the men who have been where you are right now.
This article will give more insight into what it means to dress according to the Black-tie Dress Code. So suit up; this will be an enjoyable read.
The Black-tie Dress Code
A black-tie event is regarded as a semi-formal event of Western origin occasionally held in the evening. “Black-tie” is the dress code for such events. It originated in British and American conventions for apparel in the 19th century. The British and the Americans have their unique take on the black-tie dress code, each of which is a legitimate and accepted twist you can try.
The black-tie dress code is quite interesting; it has several variations and nuances that make it relatively simple yet immensely sophisticated. The outfit choice for this dress code is often a dinner jacket as it is regarded in British English and design. This dinner jacket or suit is called a “tuxedo” in American fashion terminology. The suit or jacket is either a two- or three-piece suit, characterized by a silk fabric for lapels and stripes along the out-seam of the pants.
A white dress shirt also accompanies it with either a turndown or standing collar and cufflinks. Depending on your preference, you can either wear a black bow tie or a black straight tie.
The importance of dressing correctly for a black-tie event is that you get to look sophisticated and refined, which is a plus; let’s not forget it is always a great idea to look like James Bond.
Events That Require A Black-tie Dress Code
As stated earlier, the black-tie dress code exists because of the black-tie events. So, we need to explore these events that would warrant the black-tie dress code. With this, we can help solve the problem of where and when to dress a particular way for us guys.
A black-tie event is unlike any other gathering and, as such, requires much more sophistication in dress and etiquette. Events that
The events you would be required to adopt the black-tie dress code are listed below.
- Evening weddings
- Award ceremonies
- Movie Screening Nights
- Evening Birthdays
- Opera shows
These are just a few events that require that you show up strictly in the black-tie dress code. There are more events, but these are the ones you can quickly identify anywhere you are in the world reading this.
When attending these events, you mustn’t attempt to overdress; the aim is to appear semi-formal, comfortable, and look sophisticated. One cannot presume that more is better, and you are advised to do your best to wear just the essentials to pull off the look.
Simplicity is the purest form of genius, I am paraphrasing here, but the same is true about the black-tie dress code. It barely needs laborious additions for it to make you look the part.
The Parts Of A Black-tie Outfit
We have talked about the black-tie event and the dress code that goes with it compulsorily, but what constitutes a black-tie dress code? Well, let us find out. To properly pull off this look, some elements are essential and sacrosanct for it.
These pieces of the whole are what come together to give a complete look its depth, style, and sophistication. Let us explore these integral parts of the Black-Tie Dress Code.
The Dinner Jacket is also known as the “tuxedo,” especially in American fashion. It is usually a simple, formal jacket and trousers made from the same fabric trimmed with contrasting black grosgrain or satin on the lapels, suit, trousers pocket embellishment, etc. there are three types of lapels; notch, peak, and shawl.
The Dress Shirt: It is essential that with all the many important parts of the black-tie dress code, you ensure you have a good white dress shirt to act as a solid base. The shirt helps to amplify the outfit, acting as a white canvas would a painting.
The Bow Ties: This is a commonplace and essential piece of clothing to the black-tie dress code. It is a tie made in the form of a butterfly, and it is the major tie type for these outfits and events. It is made to compliment the wearer’s facial shape and the lapels of the black-tie outfit.
Formal Shoes: It is always best to go with patent leather shoes such as the classic oxfords or the more modern round tip shoes for a black-tie event.
Cuff links: These little beauties are essential to the overall look as they accentuate the fabric’s design or simply add to whatever jewelry you have on.
What Not To Wear To A Black-tie Event
Since there is a strict code for the Black-tie events, which entails what you are meant to wear to these events, is it enough to just know what to wear? It leaves too much room for assumptions and probably a freehand to experiment. The problem with this is, you will lose the uniformity of color, style, and sophistication.
Because of this, we must now explore and discuss what to wear and what not to wear. And yes, you guessed it, with the amount of snobbery that comes with these fashion standards, there are a lot of clothing pieces or combinations that are simply prohibited from black-tie events.
There are many “abominations,” and I will try my best to speak on as many that will be necessary to avoid depending on the event and location you find yourself.
- No Suits (not even black) – black-tie dress code requires that the only acceptable jacket type is a tuxedo or a formal dinner jacket outfit.
- Opened toed shoes – For these events, it is important for you to look as semi-formal as possible; this means only proper formal shoes are allowed.
- Shorts – this isn’t a boat ride or a spot of golf with the gents; shorts are not allowed. Besides, think of how ridiculous you’d look among everyone dressed up to code.
- Polos – a black-tie event is not a casual event, not even business casual, so there is no real reason for polo to be near the venue.
- Opened collar shirts (without a bowtie or formal necktie) – the ‘tie’ in “black-tie” is there for a reason; if you are attending a black-tie event, you cannot skip on the tie.
- Sportcoats – Sportcoats fail miserably to exude the right level of sophistication for the black-tie event.
- Blazers – You have no marks if you thought a blazer could pass the dress code for a black-tie event.
- Tennis shoes – Tennis shoes will only add a casual vibe to your outfit, which defeats the whole point of formal wear, so avoid them.
- No socks – It is important to have the right footwear for the night, but you need to have the right socks. Failure to wear socks at all is simply unforgivable.
The Black-Tie Dress Code Across the World
Black-tie events are not restricted to the UK or US; as the world continues to grow into a global village, there will be similarities in trends and traditions. Fashion is one of those trends that has consistently infiltrated several cultures and people.
Black-tie events are also a trend that has been incorporated into cultures across the globe; today, there’s no continent without a black-tie event. Let us explore the variations of the black-tie dress code from around the globe.
Black-tie in the UK, the US, and Europe
You are more likely to find the classic look for the black-tie dress code in these places. It is the most widely accepted dress code at dinner events in the UK, North America (US, Canada), and Europe.
The outfit includes the following;
- Dinner jacket or tuxedo with matching trousers. The jacket usually has silk lapels, while the trousers have silk embellishments or piping.
- To offer an excellent background for the jacket, you are advised to wear a pleated white shirt or a simple white evening shirt.
- You can’t go wrong with long black socks
- Black formal shoes, especially oxfords or brogues
- Bow Tie made to fit the wearer’s style and shape of the face
- Cummerbund or Waistcoat (optional)
Black-tie in Asia
In Asia, the black-tie events are not so dissimilar from that of the Western world, and as such, you can and will find a touch of the classics. The outfit in this part of the world includes the following;
- Mainly, men would wear a black tuxedo with a bowtie. The color choice for the jacket is intentional, as it adheres to the “black-tie” aesthetics, offering uniformity. The bowtie should also be black, also because the name suggests.
- While the color choice is primarily black, you are allowed to experiment with other colors in Asia, just as long as it is done with finesse and taste.
Black-tie in Africa
While the UK has a more traditional version of the black-tie dress code, the theme is often that of incorporating print in Africa. Fabrics with print are a huge part of the fashion scene in Africa and thus can be seen influencing or infiltrating imported fashion styles. One of these fashion trends that fused with African print is black-tie.
The stylings of the African black-tie dress code are as follows;
- Men wear black suits; dinner jackets or tuxedos are also commonplace.
- The bow tie is often made from African print fabric or made to match their female companion’s dress.
- Pocket squares are also made with African print fabric to match their partner’s outfit or as a way to complete the look.
The rules are different for the fabric used for the ensemble or the embellishments. Where you would see silk for lapels or piping, here, it can be African print. But even though there’s a lot of free room to experiment and combine original ideas with indigenous fashion trends, this does not mean a total derailment from the norm. I mean to say that there is still a strict adherence to the level of expected formality as is customary with the black-tie dress code.
Other Acceptable Black-tie Variations
While it is aptly named “black-tie,” you will frequently see most men adorned in black jackets only, which is not the only acceptable color.
The black-tie event can specify the theme of the day. The theme is also to ensure there is uniformity. Below are the other variations of the black-tie dress code;
The Classic Black Tuxedo
This is the “go-to” for a black-tie event, it is the classic look, and frankly, every man should own one. They are elegant and compliment the wearer perfectly.
The best lapel for this black tuxedo is a tie between peak or notch; either of the two brings it to life. Compliment the look with black leather loafers or “lace-ups.”
The Blue Tuxedo
The blue tuxedo was popularized by none other than the classiest spy to ever live, James Bond, in the movie “Casino Royale.” Ever since then, you will see more tuxedos in the royal shade of blue on the red carpet.
The White Tuxedo Jacket
The white tuxedo is an amazing variation, but it may not be for everyone, but that does not mean wearing it would be a faux pas. It is often worn in combination with black trousers and during warmer periods. Side note, if you’re going for a wedding, make sure you run it by the couple first; you don’t want to be mistaken for the groom; that would be awkward.
The Red / Burgundy Tuxedo
This variation of the black-tie dress code is a newcomer but continues to gain popularity and relevance among men. Red has so many shades you can choose from and many nice combinations as well. You can either opt for a burgundy jacket and pants of the same color or make the pants black to offer contrast.
The Green Tuxedo
This is one of my personal favorites because of its elegance and the beauty of how modern it is. The fabric of choice that brings out the beauty of the color is velvet or suede. Green also goes great with black pants, giving you a truly magical look.
The Black Tuxedo & Black Shirt Combo
Here’s another great option if you wish to stick with the classic back-tie look but with a little twist. While in the original look, the black dinner jacket is paired with a white dress shirt but here, you switch it out for a black one instead.
With this variation, the rules for the tie type change, and you can either wear a bow tie or a traditional tie.
Black-tie events are often a time for joyous but orderly celebrations, awards, grand openings, weddings, etc. As every other guest is seated and dressed the part, it would be a disaster if you showed up dressed in conflicting attire from everyone else’s. Besides, think of how awkward it would be to be the odd one out in every photo or video from the event.
It is important to follow the templates set by the black-tie dress code, whether you’re in the US, UK, or anywhere else you find yourself. So, now when you get invited to a black-tie event, you do not have to scratch your head wondering what it would entail. Hopefully, you get inspired to add your unique twist to it with this article.