Originally pioneered during the Victorian Era, black tie is a dress code that’s become synonymous with men’s semi-formal wear. Based on the name alone, however, it’s difficult to understand exactly what constitutes a “black tie” outfit. So if you’re still scratching your head trying to answer this question, keep reading for an in-depth breakdown on black tie dress code.
Black Tie vs White Tie: What’s the Difference?
Many people assume that black tie and white tie refer to the same dress code. While they share some similarities in terms of appearance, however, they are two unique styles with their own characteristics. Black tie is classified as being semi-formal, whereas white tie is formal.
White tie is the single most formal style of dress code and is usually worn for balls, weddings, and other formal events. While there are always exceptions to this rule, white tie is typically worn only in the evenings past 6 PM.
Black tie, on the other hand, is less formal than white tie, but still more formal than business-casual. There are fewer rules to follow with black tie, making it an excellent choice for men men with a limited sense of fashion. It’s a classic, stylish dress code that can be worn for a variety of occasions. Still, like all dress codes, there’s a right way and a wrong way to achieve black tie attire.
How to Achieve the Perfect Black Tie Attire
Men’s black tie dress code consists of the following six elements:
- White button-up dress shirt
- Black bow tie (avoid neckties)
- Waistcoat (also known as a tuxedo)
- Sports coat
- Matching trousers
- Black dress shoes
To achieve the perfect black tie attire, there are a few things you should know. First and foremost, your suit should be black. This generally means the sports coat, trousers and bow tie should all be black. There’s nothing wrong with suits featuring other colors, but there’s a reason why it’s called “black tie” — because it focuses strictly on black instead of other colors. To compliment your black suit, you should also wear a white dress shirt. The white on black will create a contrasting appearance that really enhances your outfit.
In addition to a black suit and white dress shirt, men should also wear black dress shoes (oxfords are an excellent choice) as well as a black leather belt and waistcoat. This should complete your look to create the perfect black tie outfit.
Photo credit: David Geohring