Many formal events go hand-in-hand with what we consider black tie functions. Black tie events can vary, and sometimes you will only know by the request listed on the invitation! Weddings may require black tie dress, as well as benefits, work functions, dinners, awards events, and galas. You’ll know whether black tie is required from the specifications made by your boss, your friend, or from the event details in your invitation or placard.
Black tie means just one thing: you’ll be wearing a tuxedo for the evening. While some ultra casual men may be stressing about the thought of wearing the tuxedo, it’s simply a must item for black tie attire. No matter what your take on the tux is, if you’re going to a black tie event and you’ve got to wear one, you might as well look good doing it, too!
Tuxes are usually worn after 6 p.m., but you can still find them at afternoon weddings. Since you never know where black tie events will turn up, buy a good, classic one. Your tux can be either black or gray, but choose a single button closure if you want a classic look that will fit in at most events.
Consider the notches on your jacket’s lapels to switch up your look. They are one of the most noticeable aspects for black tie options, and can make different statements. A notched collar is the most popular choice in the United States, but a shawl collar (without notches) or the peaked lapel (with two points of fabric that point upwards and a narrow amount of space between the collar and lapel) are considered more traditional in Europe and the United Kingdom.
Tuxedo shirts can be found in different styles, but don’t let that intimidate you! Most of your choice can be made on personal preference and not because of black tie limitations. Choose between wing tip collars, lie-flat collars, and mandarin collars. When in doubt, choose your tuxedo shirt with a wing tip collar that stands straight and bends over at the front near the bow tie. Lay down collars can also be worn with a bow tie or necktie, while mandarin collars, the least traditional of the bunch, are worn without a tie. A mandarin collar can never be worn with the most formal tuxedo jacket with tails.
The Bow Tie & Cummerbund
Find a basic black bow tie and cummerbund if you aren’t keen on black tie and you are investing in your own tux. For those who love black tie glamour, try an elegant waistcoat, which is worn without a cummerbund.
The most traditional type of formal shoes to wear with black tie dress are patent leather lace-up oxfords that do not have a toe cap design. Wear black silk socks to complete the look.
Black Tie Preferred, Optional, or Invited
Sometimes even the terminology used for black tie events can get confusing. Sometimes you know what to wear for a black tie event, but you’re just not sure if that’s the best option. For “Black Tie Preferred” events, dress to the nines in your best tuxedo if you have one. They’re the preferred choice for your event, and if it’s labeled “optional” or “Invited,” you can also choose a dark suit paired with a white shirt and a conservative tie. Just make sure the quality is top-of-the-line!