So what is the black tie dress code, really? You may have a general idea, but when it comes to the details, not so much. Perhaps you’re due to attend a black tie event, and you have no idea where to start - fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Black tie for men means the “fancy schmancy” dress code. Imagine James Bond heading to a swanky event—that's the feel. You’ll be in a tuxedo with all the trimmings. Ready to discover more about black tie event attire? Good. We cover what to wear when your invitation calls for black tie dress code below.

What is a Black Tie Event?

A black tie event is usually a special occasion like a wedding, gala, awards ceremony, or an upscale party. These events have a certain mood – glamorous and dapper – where everyone's dressed to the nines, ready to celebrate in top-notch style.

Think of the black tie dress code for this kind of event as a (large) step up from smart-casual – it's the real deal. If the invite says black tie, it’s essential to adhere to it to show your respect for the occasion, your hosts, and fellow attendees. It's all about looking sophisticated, so leave the jeans at home.

So, what does black tie mean - what should you reach for in your wardrobe? For men, this means pulling out the tuxedo. You may get away with a sharp black suit, but it’s better to go with a tux. The key is that sleek and snazzy black tie at your collar. You’ll also need a white dress shirt, a cummerbund, black shoes and socks, and some well-chosen accessories.

Let’s dive into more detail about each part of the black tie look.

What to wear to a black tie event

Now we come to the essence of the all-important question of what to wear to a black tie event. Get ready to shop and add these black tie heroes to your basket:

What to wear to a black tie event

Now we come to the essence of the all-important question of what to wear to a black tie event. Get ready to shop and add these black tie heroes to your basket:

The Suit
Bow Tie
The Cummerbund

As we’ve already mentioned, when it’s black tie dress code, you’ll need a tuxedo. The tux, also known as a dinner suit, is the most classic men’s formal wear option. The refined black wool suit often has satin on the lapels, buttons, and a slick stripe down the trousers.

Opt for a velvet jacket with your black trousers if you want a more contemporary look. A smart midnight blue adds a little colour to the proceedings while keeping to the dress code.

For shirts to wear with a black suit or tux, you’re going to need to go quite conventional. Appropriate men’s black tie shirts typically consist of a crisp white dress shirt with the quintessential Marcella bib front. Dress shirts have a turndown collar and double cuffs rather than buttons. You can add French cuffs if you want to level up.

It’s got to be black shoes for black tie dress code - patent leather if you're feeling extra swish. Remember, these aren’t the run-of-the-mill shoes that you wear to work each day. They’ve got to be just as striking as the rest of your black tie outfit. Consider patent Derbies, or if you want to turn heads, velvet slippers are also a good option.

When people ask ‘what is black tie attire?’, the tie you wear is the clincher. It’s a bow tie, and it's got to be black - or midnight blue if you’re feeling bold. No room for funky colours here, and never wear a white one - the white tie dress code is a whole other ball game. Make sure it’s made of silk and that you hand-tie it. Clip-on bow ties won’t make the cut. Check the tie is the right size to complement your shirt collar and face properly.

Now, onto the fun stuff. A cummerbund is a broad waistband, often pleated, positioned at the natural waistline. Essential for the black tie dress code, it serves both functional and aesthetic purposes. It’s made to conceal the waistband of trousers and adds a polished touch to the tuxedo ensemble. It also adds that formal touch that we’re going for at black tie events.

Ace your base with a classic black, low-key look for black tie events. Ensure they complement the formal nature of your outfit, coordinating with your tuxedo or formal black suit. Don’t wear patterned or brightly coloured socks (unless you can honestly carry the look off!); simplicity is essential. Go for slightly longer socks so they don’t show any skin seated.

You want to keep it light and refined with your black tie dress code accessories. It’s one of those times when less is more. The rule of thumb is to limit yourself to three accessories. Try a dress watch (typically with a black leather strap), a simply folded white pocket square, and a pair of quality cufflinks.

What not to wear to a black tie event

Now that you know what you should wear when the event invite says black tie dress code, you’ll also want to remember what not to wear to a black tie event. The key is sophistication—leave the casual vibes at home.

Stick to the following:

- At all costs, avoid casual wear like jeans, sneakers, or T-shirts at a black tie event.
- Steer clear of overly colourful or flashy outfits that defy the elegance of the occasion.
- Skip any ties or bow ties that aren’t the classic black ones.
- Stay away from casual footwear; instead, choose formal black shoes, like oxfords.

FAQ for a Black Tie Event

Now we come to the essence of the all-important question of what to wear to a black tie event. Get ready to shop and add these black tie heroes to your basket:

What is the difference between a Tuxedo and a black suit?

A tuxedo typically features satin lapels, buttons, and a stripe down the trousers, while a black suit lacks these details. People usually wear tuxedos with a bow tie and cummerbund or vest, while black suits are often paired with a long tie, or no tie at all. Tuxedos are more formal and are typically reserved for evening events or black tie occasions.

Can I wear a black suit to a black tie event?

While a black suit is formal, it’s not considered equivalent to a tuxedo for a black tie event. The timeless black tie dress code requires a tuxedo, often with a bow tie and formal accessories. These are expected at any kind of black tie event.

Can you wear a black tie at a black tie event?

Yes, wearing a black tie to this kind of occasion is appropriate and expected. The term ‘black tie’ refers to formal attire, and a black tie (necktie or, more appropriately, a bow tie) is a key component of this dress code. It’s usually worn with a tuxedo or a formal black suit for men.

Wrapping it up

As you get ready for your sharp event, remember that black tie means bringing your A-game. It's the red carpet look, the ‘dress to impress’ outfit.

So, suit up, put your bow tie on, and get ready to own that black tie affair. You'll look dapper and refined, and everyone else will wish they nailed the black tie dress code like you did.