Dress Codes Part 1: Black Tie

If receiving an invitation with the dreaded words ‘Dress Code’ sends a shiver down your spine, you are not alone. To help you avoid any disapproving looks or embarrassment at your next event, we have created a nifty guide on deconstructing and decoding the most popular dress codes. First up: Black Tie.

When Do You Wear It?

Black tie is the ultimate formal occasion and your attire should follow suit. Black tie attire is generally reserved for very formal events such as balls, company awards nights, some weddings or even a private dinner.

What Do You Wear?

This dress code unequivocally indicates that a tuxedo is to be worn by guests. The traditional black tie tuxedo has satin lapels and a satin stripe down the outside seam of each pant leg. The jacket must be worn buttoned up, and is of a slightly lighter material than lounge suits. Traditionally they have a single button, but double-button and even double-breasted versions are increasingly popular.
The pants sit higher than regular suit pants, and a cummerbund or waistcoat is worn to hide the waistband. A black silk bow tie, white pocket square and pair of black patent Oxford shoes complete the look.
These days, you can get away with many variations on this theme, unless you're going to a seriously traditional event. In place of a tuxedo, your slim-fitting dark blue or black suit can be worn buttoned up with a bow tie and white pocket square. This is a common occurrence, especially when the invitation states ‘Black Tie Optional’. Moreover, the bow tie can be swapped for a black silk necktie. Avoid shoes that are not black, highly polished leather and in the interest of good taste, we advise against any novelty bow ties or waistcoats. 

Buy or Rent?

Some may argue that every man needs a tuxedo in his wardrobe, however, the infrequent nature of black tie events means that renting is the most popular choice. However, make sure to plan well in advance and ensure that your hired suit fits well.