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A Guide to Black Tie Formal Wear for Men and Women

Black Tie Formal Wear
Worried about how to dress up for a black tie event? Read on to know the essentials of black tie formal wear.
Mukta Gaikwad
Last Updated: Jul 21, 2017
The origin of black tie events dates back to 1860, when Henry Poole & Co. designed a short smoking jacket for Edward VII of the United Kingdom. The black tie formal wear initially began as informal dress to be worn while lounging, or smoking to be precise. It was six years later that this style of dress assumed it's formal states quo. It happened over a dinner party thrown by the Prince for his friends, the Potters, from New York. Confounded about the dress code, James Potter (not Harry's father), asked the Prince about dinner's dress code. The Prince suggested Henry Poole & Co., where he bought the smoking jacket. Later, on Potter's return to New York, the smoking jacket become a popular trend at the Tuxedo Park Club. So, thus came the name 'Tuxedo' for the dress, that is now worn in fine dining rooms. Thus, a tuxedo is also popularly worn for black tie events.
Formal Wear for Men
The formal attire for men consists of:
  • Jacket with ribbed silk facings on a shawl collar or on a peaked lapel
  • Pants with silk braids covering the outer seams
  • A black low-cut vest
  • A white dress shirt with a marcella front and either a wing or turndown collar
  • A black ribbed silk (self-tied) bow tie matching the lapel facings
  • Black dress socks, usually silk or fine wool
  • Black shoes in patent leather, or patent leather court shoes
A white dinner jacket is a variation of Tuxedos, worn in warmer climates. The jacket varies between ivory and pure white, with self faced lapels. The white dinner jackets are never worn in UK, irrespective of warm weather conditions. These jackets are preserved to worn abroad. The jackets worn in formal dinners are not supposed to be removed, unless the man in the higher rank orders to do so, in very hot weather conditions.
Formal Wear for Women
Women may not have to wear a formal suit. However, they have a great deal of options when it comes to wearing formal dress code. For instance, women in western countries can wear dresses, skirts, shirts and pants on formal occasions. Gowns are also worn on special formal occasions. On the other hand, women in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka wear saree for formal occasions. Similarly, bunad is the formal dress worn by women in Norway, while kebaya is worn by women in Indonesia and qipoa by Chinese women. In Western countries, the black tie attire for women, varies from cocktail dress to a designer gown. Anything flashy, whether accessory or outfit, would completely ruin the look.
Formal dressing demands formal accessorizing as well. Formal shoes, both for men and women, hats, if the occasion demands, ties and hair accessories, need to match the formal dress. Places which demand this kind of clothing, also demand a very formal code of conduct.
The bottom line remains that a black tie formal dress code does require great amounts of patience to put together. So, next time you have to attend such an event, remember to plan it well, before you start dressing up!
man dons black shoe with shoehorn
Bow tie
Norwegian national costume/bunad
Woman in traditional kebaya
Beautiful young girl posing in traditional saree
Elegant girl in contemporary blue dress
Patent Leather Men Shoes
Black Formal Dinner Jacket and Bow Tie