A black tie event is an extremely formal social event. Such events include formal weddings, operas, balls, movie premiers, or dinners or events held in honor of important political figures or dignitaries. It is called a black tie event as the attendees are expected to dress in an appropriate manner. While a certain specific dress code has been outlined for men, women are relatively free to dress in a variety of colors and textures. Let's take a look at the dress codes that have been outlined for men and women for a black tie event.
Attire for Men
The types of black tie attire for men depend on the type of the event, and the reference provided in the invitation. These can be categorized into the following.
Black Tie (Required)
When this requirement has been made clear in the invitation, it means that the event is extremely formal, and men are to dress in a classic black tie attire. The attire must comprises:
- A black tuxedo (without a tail), also known as a dinner jacket.
- A white shirt, that may include small pleats or ribs, with black enamel or pearl like buttons.
- A silk black bow tie, or a bow tie matching his date's outfit.
- A silk black cummerbund (waistband in men's formal wear), or a cummerbund matching his date's outfit.
- Black trousers, with a satin strip on the outside seam of the leg.
- Black socks, worn within a pair of highly polished leather black shoes.
- Simple gold or silver cuff-links.
Black Tie Preferred
This requirement implies that a formal tuxedo would be preferred, but those who cannot afford one will be pardoned from this obligation. If a tuxedo cannot be afforded, men may wear a dark suit, along with an appropriate tie.
Black Tie Optional
This requirement is similar to the black tie preferred requirement, where men are given a choice about dressing in a black tie, or alternately in a dark suit with a tie.
Creative Black Tie
A creative black tie event requires men to be dressed in a tuxedo, but with a modern twist. This however, is not a popular dress code, as it defies all the rules of a black tie event. Men find it easy to mess up this look because the word 'creative' is never specific. If you receive such an invitation, the safest option is to stick to the tuxedo with a formal, printed tie. However, if you do know how to interpret trendy formals, you may get as creative as you like, with a themed tie, or a printed shirt.
Attire for Women
While there is a basic traditional outfit that men are expected to wear at a black tie event, the choices of black tie attire for women are endless. On the other hand, while men dress differently as per the requirements mentioned on the invitation, for women, the attire doesn't change much.
- Women are expected to wear full-length gowns, where the colors are not limited to black. These can be other rich colors such as deep red, wine, plum, silver, gold, etc. Also, the materials and textures can include satin, silk, velvet, and embroideries that consist of beads too.
- They may also wear full length, straight cut skirts, teamed with a silk organza blouse, or a beaded blouse.
- The neck lines can be plunging, while the dress may be backless. However, dresses for a traditional black tie event should be conservative.
- The main requirement is that your hair be neatly set, whether left open, or tied up.
- The makeup may include different styles, but it should be kept elegant and light.
- Though a no-jewelry look is extremely popular nowadays, wearing elegant pieces of jewelry has a graceful effect. Small diamond studded earrings and bracelets complete the attire.
- Shoes should have some amount of heel, and can range from strapped, to satin pumps.
- A clutch purse is perfect to complete the attire.
Do not wear knee length dresses or skirts, as these are considered semi-formal. The textures of the outfit may vary depending on whether it is a compulsory black tie event or an optional black tie event.
Since it a formal event, following certain social etiquette tips, appropriate for the event is essential.
- The first rule is of course to dress as per the aforementioned dress code.
- When you meet someone, and happen to be wearing gloves, remove it before shaking hands with the other person. Remember to maintain eye contact, and confidently approach people you don't know but wish to communicate with.
- If you have a drink in your hand, always hold it in your left hand so that your right hand is free for handshakes.
- While engaging in conversation, keep it general and avoid speaking on controversial and sensitive subjects such as politics and religion.
- Control your intake of alcohol. Social drinking requires you to consume in small amounts, and not overdo alcohol consumption. While drinking may relax you and ease the stress of socializing, getting drunk is downright uncouth and will leave a very bad impression among guests.
These events are always a large-scale events, and dressing appropriately not only highlights the importance of the event, but is also explicit about your adherence to certain norms of social etiquette.