What The Black-Tie Dress Code Really Means

If the words ‘black tie’ at the bottom of a formal party or event invitation fill you with dread, you are not alone; however, rather than make an excuse to decline the invite or spend weeks fretting about what you are supposed to wear and worrying that you will get it totally wrong, take a breath and read on.

Black-Tie Dress Code

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To save you the headache, we have put together a brief and down to earth guide on what black tie really means for both men and women.

Black tie for men

Men have it a little easier than women, as a black dinner suit is often enough; however, black tie sometimes requires a tuxedo, which is a different cut of the suit, and a different kind of shirt. It is safer to do some research and find out what level of formality is required, as men may need to go the whole way and wear a waistcoat or cummerbund along with cufflinks and a self-tied bow tie. Black socks and back dress shoes are always a good choice.

Black-Tie Dress Code

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Black tie for women

Black tie wear for women is a lot less regimented than for men, which is great news. A dress is an appropriate outfit; in most cases, this should be floor length, or almost so. It doesn’t need to be an elaborate ‘Cinderella at the ball’ style; in fact, something more restrained – such as a navy maxi dress – is definitely advisable. Cocktail dresses can work but stick with rich, block colors and with the length below the knee – think classy rather than attention-grabbing.

Black is always a safe color, but dark blue is also amazing and actually more traditional. If you keep something like a navy maxi dress available at AX Paris and other fashion brands in your wardrobe, you will be covered for both the ideal color and the perfect length.

Shoes should be classy, comfortable, and suitable for what you expect them to cope with at the event. If it is a largely sit-down event, you may get away with those higher than usual heels; however, if you could be dancing or standing around, it is better to choose something more wearable.

As ‘black tie’ can be interpreted in different ways, always check what is expected before you attend an event.