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What To Wear To A Black Tie Optional Wedding

Black Tie Optional Shirt

What to Wear to Black Tie Optional

Whatever you choose, your shirt should be white. While barrel cuffs are fine on this occasion, French cuffs are the ideal choice. In a pinch, a light blue shirt will work too but wed avoid it if possible.

Should you wish to wear a tuxedo, were particularly fond of the evening shirts made by Eton. These are excellent for black tie optional as theyre not overly formal. Instead of shirt studs, they have a covered placket and theyre made with a turndown collar.

Meanwhile, if you want to pick up a quality shirt for the occasion, head to our guide to the best shirt brands on the market. We recently updated this guide to feature a number of options for different budgets. However, we made sure only to select trusted Jermyn Street brands or similar.

Our Favorite Black Tie Wedding Attire For Men And Women

As we’ve covered already, tuxedos and long evening dresses are the standard for this formal dress code. If you’re in the market for some stylish new evening wear, we’ve got dozens of great suggestions below you can buy online. Shopping on a budget? There are plenty of companies that offer tuxedo rental services, like Men’s Wearhouse. Similarly, Rent the Runway is a great place to rent an evening dress for a fraction of the price compared to buying.

Black tie wedding guest attire is more versatile than you might think. This gorgeous maxi dress checks all the boxes without feeling over-the-top fancy, meaning you’ll likely be able to wear it again. Plus, the leg slit and sleek satin material add a sultry edge. Accessorize with a pair of dressy sandal heels and a coordinating clutch.

When To Dress Black Tie Optional

Your black tie optional clothes will work best for these occasions:

  • Weddings
  • Galas
  • Dinner parties

If a dress code for an event isnt specified, youre usually safe showing up in nothing fancier than cocktail attire. But if it seems like a classy event, you can play it safe with a black tie optional look.

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Black Tie Optional Wedding Attire For Women

If youre worried about what sort of dress is expected for women at black tie optional events, dont fret, you have some options with this dress code. Since a black tie optional event is slightly less formal, you dont have to wear a floor-length dress, but you can if youd like to. A mid-length dress is perfectly fine and is probably what many others will wear to the party.

However, a fancy cocktail dress might also be appropriate if the wedding party is similarly dressed. The length of your dress shouldnt be too short, however, as that may not be appropriate for grown women at a black tie optional wedding. As always, women should not wear white at weddings.

Alternately, you could wear a sophisticated pantsuit as black tie optional attire, especially if dresses arent your thing.

In terms of footwear, as long as they look fancy, you should be good to go. Heels always look the most formal, but you could always pair your dress with fancy flats or ankle-high boots if you so choose. In the summer, wedding guests may also get away with fancy sandals.

Any accessories at this point are up to you. However, overly opulent jewelry might be considered too much for this type of dress code, so try not to take too much attention from the bride with your impeccable style.

If I Wear A Cocktail Dress How Should I Style It


You can only wear a cocktail dress if it’s very formal. It can fall above the knee, but it shouldn’t get much shorter than that for a black-tie wedding. For this occasion, it’s not recommended to show too much skin. Rather, keep the hemline modest and keep any cleavage to a minimum. Steer clear of anything that looks like you’re going to a club. Instead, opt for sophisticated cocktail dresses made from rich fabric and fine details.

As a finishing touch, pair your cocktail dress with sleek heels, gorgeous jewelry, and an elegant clutch so the overall look is formal. You can’t go wrong with diamonds or pearls. You can also opt for bold statement jewelry, especially if you’re wearing a more muted dress.

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Our Favorite Black Tie Optional Tuxedos

On the hunt for a sleek suit or tuxedo to wear to an upcoming wedding? We’ve got you. Check out suave styles for both men and women below.

Suitsupply is a one-stop shop for contemporary men’s formal wear perfect for black tie optional weddings. This slim-fit tuxedo features a structured double-breasted jacket with signature satin-covered peak lapels and buttons. The trousers also have a silk-trimmed outseam to keep up appearances. The icing on the cake? This tux is made from soft and breathable seersucker cotton, making it ideal for warm weather. Simply add a white tuxedo shirt and you can officially move onto accessories. A white pocket square and black bow tie are excellent options.

A black tie optional wedding is your chance to don a seriously dapper dinner jacket like this one from Indochino. The website is chock full of stylish men’s attire for formal events, including dress pants and tuxedo shirts to complement the jacket. The deep navy blue color adds a unique edge while still looking appropriate for a black tie optional affair.

Bonobos is another great place to shop for black tie optional attire online. The site offers a range of dressy suits and tuxedos in extended sizing, such as this Italian wool tux. The set includes a traditional black tuxedo jacket and matching pantsâall you need to do is pick out a shirt and necktie or bow tie.

Examples Of Black Tie

From the Ivy League graduate lawyer with a high-dollar vocabulary to the small-town handyman whose idea of styling up is a blue jeans-collard-shirt combo, the black tie-optional dress code is suitable for every type of gentlemen.

Black tie-optional events, just like the standard black tie, take place in the evenings. Therefore, any black-tie event can become black tie-optional if the host wishes so.

The black-tie optional dress code is found in invitations sent out by the bride and bridegrooms, community leaders, businesses sponsoring galas, or large-scale events.

The black tie-optional wedding is an example of an event every gentleman gets to attend in their life. Here, formal dark suits are still the favorite, but since its a celebration, you can style things up with colorful ties and pocket squares.

While black tie-optional events allow guests to embrace semi-formal attires as an alternative to the more conventional dress code, the guest should keep it close to what is requested. So, what should you wear to a black tie-optional event?

Any invitation with a Black Tie or Black Tie-Optional dress code requests a tuxedo and black tie. Its just that in the latter, the tuxedo isnt a must. But if you wish to dress in the conventional black-tie outfit for a black-tie optional event, you are welcome to do so.

Here are the outfit options for a black-tie optional event:

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Ok But My Invitation Says Black Tie Optional

This probably seems like a particularly tricky request, but its pretty simple. For a black tie optional wedding, men can wear a tuxedo but they dont have to. However, if they dont, they should opt for a dark formal suit with a tie. Similarly, women can wear a long evening gown or a fancier suit or cocktail dress.

With a little bit of know-how and a whole lot of class, you can pull off finding the perfect attire for your upcoming black tie wedding.

Every Wedding Guest Dress Code Explained

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

Have you ever received a wedding invitation that left you completely clueless about the wedding guest dress code? Between “black-tie optional” and “semi-formal,” the language can be tricky to decipher.

“While many couples would like their guests to arrive in black-tie attire, the most common wedding dress code is formal attire,” says Alicia Mae, CEO of the New Jersey-based wedding planning company ILÈ Events.

Meet the Expert

Alicia Mae is a New Jersey-based wedding planner and the CEO of ILÈ Events. She has planned over 50 successful weddings and events.

Formal attire may be the most common, but there are plenty of other dress codes that may appear on a wedding invitation. Formal, semi-formal, and casual are a bit more ambiguous than, say, black-tie, and it can be difficult for guests to settle on the level of formality they want to go for.

One of the best ways to decide what to wear is to do some research on the venue. “As a guest, I would first think of the wedding location as the background that sets the tone,” says Mae. “A quick Google search of the venue can give you a feel of the wedding style, and the venue will have photos of past weddings that can inspire you.”

If you’re stressed out about style, we’ve got you covered with our handy guide. Here are the most common wedding guest dress codes explained so that you arrive appropriatelyand stylishlydressed for the celebration.


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What Never To Wear To A Wedding

Jeans, Hats, Non-Collared Shirts

The standard rules of being well-dressed for a wedding still apply, so just like a restaurant or private club, the warning of ripped jeans, baseball hats, and non-collared shirts aren’t appropriate –unless it’s at the request of the couple that you dress down.

White or Off-White

Please don’t wear white or off-white dresses or anything that could perhaps photograph as white. Head- to-toe white suits or jumpsuits are also off-limits, too. Pale pastels like the palest blues, greens, yellows, grays, nudes and blushes all have a tendency to look lighter than they are in photos. A white wrap or sweater to throw on if you get chilly is generally fine, especially if it’s after the ceremony. Prints with some white elements are ok but just be sure the colors are much more predominant than any white background. We wrote a whole post about wearing white to a wedding, but we’re sure you get it — please, just don’t!

Anything Too Revealing or Too Short

And of course, don’t wear anything too short or revealing, and don’t look unkempt or wrinkled. If you have to fight with your outfit to keep parts of your body you’d rather not show, it might not be the right choice.

Anything too Formal or Glamourous for the Requested Dress Code
The Wedding Party Colors and Styles
Head to Toe Black,
Red in Some Cases

Even after those general wedding guest attire guidelines, there can still be many gray areas. We’ll go into much more detail about wedding dress codes below!

What Does Black Tie Optional Mean

A black tie optional dress code isn’t as confusing as it sounds . It means that guests have the option of wearing their most formal attire but may also choose to wear a formal suit or cocktail dress instead. Generally, a black tie optional dress code means that the couple and their wedding party will be dressed in black tie. It’s therefore courteous for guests to reflect this level of formality in their own attire.

One thing to keep in mind: A black-tie-optional dress code can sometimes appear differently on wedding invitations. Some couples write “black tie invited” or “black tie encouraged” instead. Typically, both of these terms mean that the to-be-weds really want their guests to wear a tux or full-length gown, but will also accept formal suits and dresses . An evening black tie optional wedding definitely calls for the dress code’s most formal attire.

Read Also: How To Address Families On Wedding Invitations

Black Tie Optional Wedding Attire For Men

The rules for men are a bit more strict for black tie optional wedding attire. Compared to black tie, though, you have a bit more wiggle room to interpret what that means.

If you love the look and feel of a tuxedo, youd be perfectly at home wearing one to a black tie optional wedding. A black bow tie or conservative bow tie is a must if you do plan on it, though, so dont be careless with your colors.

However, many men dont feel comfortable in a tuxedo or cannot splurge on a tux, so what are the other options? Alternatively, you are allowed to wear a dark suit paired with a muted tie. Wearing a suit jacket and a dress shirt with a tie is mandatory, however.

Unless there is specific color coordination required, a dark blue or navy blue, grey, or classic black suit would be totally acceptable. Guests should stick to dark, muted colors for their suits or tuxedos unless its a summer wedding and the bride and groom allow for lighter, summery colors.

As far as dress shirt color, many believe a white shirt is the way to go. You cant go wrong with a classic white dress shirt paired with a dark suit, and this will ensure you still look classy even if you dont wear a tuxedo.

Learn about the dos and donts of a black tie optional wedding.

What Is Cocktail Attire Dress Code

Decoding Guest Dress Code For Every Wedding Style

What Is Cocktail Attire? Cocktail attire is a balance between formal and casual and elegant and comfortable. To an event with this dress code, such as a wedding, men typically wear a suit and tie while women wear a cocktail dress. It is still an occasion to dress up, but a full-length gown is not necessary.

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White Tie Dress Code For Women As Wedding Guests

White tie dress code is also known as full evening dress or evening dress. Again, the rules for this dress code are less strict for women than men. The main requirement and expectation are that women wear full-length ball gown or dress. The ball gown should have fitted bodice with a full skirt that reaches the ground. As an addition to the ball gown, long gloves are also expected but it is not a strict rule today.

What Not To Wear To A Black Tie Optional Event

Sure, there are options. Its in the title of the dress code, isnt it?

Of course there are, but not all of them are available to you on this occasion. Here are some basic things to avoid:

  • Light-coloured suits: Black tie-optional events take place in the evening, and a suit in light grey or khaki simply wont cut it.
  • Odd jackets & trousers: If youre thinking about wearing khakis and a blazer to a black tie-optional gathering, think again. Even the smartest odd combinations are too casual for an affair with tuxedos.
  • An outfit without a tie: You need to wear a tie. It doesnt matter if its a bow tie or a neck tie, but you need to wear one. And you need to tie it yourself.
  • Crazy socks: You may wear crazy socks to a casual office, the movies, a date, a crazy sock convention, or similar situations. For black tie-optional events, keep your socks the same colour as your trousers.

On a related note, we recently updated our socks guide with the best brands currently on the market. If your sock wardrobe needs refreshing, its a great place to start!

Read Also: How To Address Wedding Invitations For A Family

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