If you have a black-tie event to attend, you may be wondering exactly what to wear. You probably have an idea in your head of how black-tie events work and what the proper attire is from pop culture, but before you rush out and buy a tux or evening gown, check out our Style Series below.
How to dress for a black-tie event
- Daytime events are less formal than evening events
- Dark colours are more appropriate for winter events
- Don’t be afraid to wear black
- The venue will help dictate your attire (indoors vs. outdoors)
- The type of event (wedding, work function, etc.) will also help you decide what to wear
Black-tie for women
It starts with the dress. The length can be determined by the weather. Winter black-tie events call for long evening gowns, while summer allows for more leeway. A trend from a few years ago that isn't going away anytime soon is sequins. Long or short, a sequinned dress will turn heads at your black-tie event.
Moving on to jewelry, you'll need to bring out your best pieces. Keep it simple with earrings, one bracelet and an understated necklace. If you are going to wear costume or fake jewelry, make sure it looks real.
Now that you've found your dress and jewelry, choose a small purse and a pair of shoes. Your clutch shouldn't be flashy and must match your shoes. Avoid chunky shoes with high heels that are impossible to walk in. Try something strappy with a dainty heel.
Black-tie for men
Sorry, guys, you can’t simply throw on a tuxedo—there are rules. Your tux should be made of black wool, and the jacket and pants should be part of the same set or at least match. There are two styles of jacket you can try: single- or double-breasted. Generally, black-tie events call for single-breasted jackets with one button and pockets that do not have flaps covering them. Your pants should have a stripe on the outside. This stripe must match the lapel of your jacket. Also, no cuffs. In terms of colour, black is the way to go. However, a dark blue tuxedo can be worn as long as you don’t clash with your date. White tuxedos are considered formal attire, but they are not commonly worn in this day and age.
Now onto your shirt. White and black are the only colours you can get away with at a black-tie event. You will need a waist covering as well. This can be a vest, cumberbund or low waistcoat. Add a black bowtie and you’re almost ready to go.
Finally, round out your ensemble with a pair of polished dress shoes. If your shoes aren’t shined and they're covered in scuffs, don’t bother wearing them.
Now that you've picked the perfect outfit, go out and enjoy the black-tie event.