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What Is A Black Tie Optional Wedding

What Is The Difference Between Black Tie And Formal

What to Wear to Black Tie Optional

If the invite says formal attire or black tie optional attire Some brides and grooms these days use the term formal attire to mean something slightly less formal than black tie. This means that a tuxedo might not be required for the menfolk, but the event is still formal enough for one to be appropriate.

What Does Black Tie Mean

Black tie is a standard dress code for social events. Although most women have heard of the term, many are still unsure as to what it means. If you fall into this category, the first thing you need to understand is that black tie is typically reserved for formal events that take place at night. Black tie for men translates to tuxedos. For ladies, on the other hand, black tie is more lenient and can be interpreted in different ways.

Read The Invitation Thoroughly

If the wedding is a black tie affair, your wedding invitation will expressly say that. You can also garner some extra hints from the invitation style, too, though. A curly cursive means formal. Err on the dressier side. If the font is more modern and fun, you can probably get away with a fancier cocktail dress. Of course, you always want to keep things classy when it comes to dressing for a weddingespecially one thats black-tie attire.

Also Check: What To Wear To An Evening Beach Wedding

Dont: Overlook Your Outerwear

All that time and effort you put into creating a perfect look can be instantly ruined by throwing on the nearest jacket as you run out the door, says Padilla. Depending on the season, women can consider a beautiful faux fur stole, shawl or tailored blazer to stay warm, and men should complement their look with a cashmere scarf, leather gloves, and/or a dark colored overcoat knee length or longer.

Where To Get A Tux For A Black

What to Wear to a Black Tie Optional Wedding

How to Rent a Tuxedo LocallyMost guys dont have a tux hanging in their closet, but if they do, chances are that it doesnt get much use. Thats where rentals come in handy. Many local bridal salons and upscale mens shops rent tuxedos to grooms and other wedding party members. Chances are that they can get you one, too.

Pros of Renting a Tux Locally – An advantage of heading somewhere in person is that you can ensure a perfect fit. Also, if something is wronga missing button or loose hemthey can order another piece or fix it on site. You can also see fabrics and styles in person, which is a huge plus.

Cons of Renting a Tux Locally – The downside to renting is usually drop off times, especially if youre traveling and rent at your final destination. Returning your tux before an early Sunday morning flight may prove difficult.

How to Rent a Tux OnlineIt seems that you can do just about anything with the internet at your fingertips, and renting a tux is one of them. Many businesses specialize in formalwear rentals, so be sure to select a longstanding one with a good reputation.

Pros of Renting a Tux Online – Quite often, companies have strict measurement guidelines on their website. However, many online rental sites will send you a tuxedo to test out before the main event. They are also a bit more flexible with return times, giving up to 72 hours to ship your pieces back.

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Black Tie Optional Wedding Etiquette


When a wedding invitation indicates that the event is “black tie optional,” you have a bit of freedom in choosing what to wear. The phrase indicates that formal attire is appropriate, but that guests needn’t feel that they should have to buy or rent clothes that may only be worn that one time. Still, you should respect the idea that the wedding is meant to be a formal occasion and dress appropriately.

Explore this article

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What Accessories Can You Wear To A Black Tie

Need a box full of dapper mens accessories? Give our Top Shelf Box a look. It even comes with a pair of suspenders in every box.

You can always add a few conservative accessories to your dark suit ensemble for black tie optional events. Avoid wild socks and novelty braces if you dont want to look out of place. Nevertheless, when it comes to optional black-tie events, you have a bit of freedom with the accessories than any other part of your ensemble.


You can wear any solid colored metal cufflinks. Silver and gold are, however, the fan-favorite color choices. The cufflinks can either stand part or match the color of your tie. And they can also have some understated designs, but since its a semi-formal affair, avoid cufflinks with logos, insignias or miniatures.

Pocket squares

The color of the pocket square should match that of your shirt. A white pocket square is the most classic option. And if it has some edge details in a color that harmonizes that of your shirt, tie or socks are good for you

For weddings, there is room for a splash of colors. Style things up with some colorful pocket squares to match the celebration or even use a lapel flower. The best pocket square material is linen or silk.

What about dinner jackets?

Dinner jackets go with the accessories you would wear with the standard tuxedo. For example, here, Tom Ford goes for a velvet wide peaked lapel dinner jacket, navy blue in color, and with big studs and a cummerbund.

For Hosts Dont Confuse People

What Is Black Tie Optional? Can I wear A Suit To A black Tie Optional?

This designation is defined by Emily Posts Etiquette as a tuxedo combined with trendy or whimsical items which most experts suggest be limited to the shirt, tie or accessories. GQs Style Guy describes it as Dressing like the fashion victims you see on the Oscars. Tuxedos with black shirts. Tuxedos with no ties. Tuxedos with bolo ties.

However, the details are largely irrelevant because the code should be avoided by hosts out of consideration for their guests. As Russell Smith points out, If the words black-tie optional on an invitation hit a panic button for most men, the words creative black tie are even worse. Who would want to go to a party, unless its a fancy dress ball, to be judged by his costume?

It appears that party planners are getting the message judging by a 2008 Wall Street Journal article titled Uncreative Black Tie Please which reported on a backlash brewing against goofy dress codes. It quotes a spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute as saying that The range of options can often be more frustrating rather than helpful for the invited and those good manners require a host to make guests feel comfortable, not insecure.

A Fort Lauderdale event planner who learned her lesson the hard way tells the newspaper I would rather throw a party and receive 25 calls after, saying What a great party that was, than 25 calls beforehand asking, What does this mean?

Also Check: When To Send Out Wedding Save The Dates

Blazers Or Sport Coats

A blazer or sport coat is a great way to step up a business casual, cocktail attire or dressy casual look, but it isnt suited for a black-tie optional event. This would cost you significant formality in your aesthetic by adding whats considered a slightly casual layer. It also doesnt coordinate with the dressier pants and dress shirt required for this type of event.

Regardless of what the invitation says, always double-check with the host to make sure your understanding of the dress code is aligned with his or her vision!

Crista G.

Are you ready to elevate your look with black tie essentials? If so, take your style quiz, schedule a Fix and let your expert stylist know what events you have coming up. Sit back and relax while it all comes to you. Buy what you like and send back the rest. Shipping and returns are always free.

Only Wear A Cocktail Dress If Its Very Formal

We touched on this a bit, but, if youre going the cocktail dress route, it should be formalfull-stop. That means you want to keep the hem at or below the knee, skip any crop-top two-piece styles, and keeps cleavage contained. As a general guideline, anything that you would wear on a night out or out to dinner probably isnt fancy enough to wear to a black tie wedding.

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What To Wear To A Black Tie Optional Wedding

A few months back, I shared that I was going to be attending a wedding this fall, and the requested dress code was black tie optional. Of course that had me immediately tumbling down the rabbit hole searching for what to wear to a black tie optional wedding.

From The Knot:For a black tie optional wedding, men can wear a tuxedo, but its not a requirement. If they end up going tuxedo-less, though, they should wear a formal dark suit and tie instead. Women can go the long evening gown route, but a dressy suit or shorter cocktail dress is fine too.

Helpful? Not really. I mean, I knew that. What I really wanted to know was: What should a 47-year-old aunt of the groom wear to a black tie optional wedding in October???

No websites speak directly to that, so I started asking around and ordering dresses to try.

My gut instinct was to leave the floor-length gowns to the younger set and those with a role in the ceremony, and find a more formal cocktail dress . . . but that proved to be harder than I expected.

Velvet and/or sequins seemed too holiday for an October wedding, lace seemed too predictable, some dresses seemed too safe, and on and it went.

Finally, after trying on and returning over a dozen dresses , I landed on this Eliza J side drape crepe cocktail dress.

*cue angels singing*

It was exactly what I wanted and didnt know I was looking for.

And of course theres that dramatic bow detail on the side.

dress // shoes // bag // earrings // bracelet // wrap // nails

Be A Kind Host Avoid Black Tie Only Or Required

Dressing for that Formal Wedding Invite

The appearance of Black Tie on an invitation indicates unequivocally that the host expects tuxedos to be worn. Black Tie Required or Black Tie Only means the same thing but can come across as heavy-handed.

Hosts should avoid the latter unless they are certain that there will be guests too naïve or inconsiderate to infer the mandatory nature of the former.

Sven Raphael Schneider in a midnight blue tuxedo featuring a double-breasted jacket with a 4-on-1 buttoning pattern, black self-tie bow tie and silk pocket square with black patent leather oxfords

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Terminology: The Terms To Know When Shopping For Black Tie Tuxedos Or Suits

The world of formal menswear is full of technical jargon and foreign-sounding terminology. Here are some key terms to get to grips with:

  • Barathea: a high-quality cloth with a diagonal weave and broken rib effect, smooth to the touch.
  • Bib: a panel up the front of a dress shirt to ensure it appears bright white and isnt at all transparent.
  • Boutonniere: a couple of flowers worn on the left lapel of a tuxedo or suit.
  • Butterfly bow tie: the classic bow tie. Big and luxurious. A black tie staple.
  • Double breasted: a double breasted jacket with two parallel columns of buttons and overlapping flaps.
  • Notched lapel: a notch is the V-shaped indentation in a lapel where it meets the collar.
  • Oxford: Oxford shoes have low heels, an exposed ankle, and closed laces. They are considered the smartest mens shoes.
  • Peaked lapel: comes to a peak at the edge, pointing upwards. Its more formal than a notched lapel and creates a slim and elongated effect.
  • Shawl lapel: round edged lapels are mostly only seen on tuxedos. The skinnier they are, the more modern they appear.
  • Stud: a decorative fastener that fits into a buttonhole on formal shirts.
  • Wing collar: a heavily starched collar with tips that stand up and point horizontally like wings.

Do: Take Advantage Of The Opportunity To Go All Out

For most people, events that require black-tie wedding attire are few and far between, so Padilla suggests embracing the opportunity to get dressed up. In other words, always go with fancier optionfor example, go for the full-length gown instead of the black cocktail dress you could wear to almost any occasion. Guys, opt for a navy or black tux with a matching waistcoat or cummerbund rather than trying to get away with a casual dark suit option, she says. You dont want to be the couple who did the least standing next to the couple that chose to embrace the full black tie dress code in pictures.

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Can You Wear A Short Dress To A Black Tie Wedding

As a black tie wedding guest, you can’t go wrong with a long formal gown . That said, it’s not your only option, especially with a modern black tie dress code. “For women, a floor-length dress is great, but a more fancy cocktail-length dress can also work,” says Mayer. It’s acceptable to wear a tea-length dress to a black tie wedding, so long as it feels elevated enough and hits mid-calf or below. Opt for something with elegant embellishments and stick with darker hues.

Black Tie Gala Attire

What to Wear to Black Tie Optional Wedding

A black-tie gala is a good time to go all-out with your outfit. Selecting a floor length gown that is sophisticated and stylish will allow you to nail this dress code without feeling under-dressed. Black is a standard colour choice for gala attire and will never steer you wrong, but dont be afraid to try other options, such as white, red or metallics. While a classic silhouette that flatters your body type is an ideal choice, you should try adding a little excitement with unique design details and embellishments.


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