The “Black Tie” dress code is somewhat a little daunting when planning to attend your very first one. We’ve all been there, and if you’re a millennial then we had the Luxury of initiating Google to help us out. We are here to do just that…help you out a little and guide you in the right direction.
WHAT IS A BLACK TIE EVENT?
Quite simply, this type of event would take place after 7pm where both men and women would dress in a more formal style than the likes of a wedding, not wearing a standard office style suit but something a little more special. Although a black tie dress code is formal/semi-formal event, a “White Tie” dress code is the most formal where men would wear tails, waistcoat and white bowtie. Gentlemen, have a read of the key points below for your black tie event.
STEP ONE: CHOOSE THE RIGHT SUIT
For a black tie event, the correct style of jacket to wear is a dinner jacket. Most dinner jackets are one button front with contrasting lapels and cloth-covered buttons. Although most dinner jackets are black with satin or silk lapels, they don’t always have to be. In modern fashion we see many kinds of textured and coloured fabrics at these events, so if you have flair, go for it, stand out from the crowd.
Regardless of the colour of jacket most gentlemen would link this to a pair of black well-fitted trousers. Traditionally these would have a silk/satin stripe running down the length of the outside of each trouser leg.
STEP 2: THE PERFECT SHIRT
The most popular style of shirt for this dress code would be a wing-tipped collar. There are many variations of this style of shirt, including pleated front, button-holes for studs, button front, concealed placket…I won’t bore you with the rest. What I want to say is, don’t get bogged down on the decision, if it is crisp and white and you don’t attend many events, go for a standard collar that you will wear again if the shirt fits well. The perfect shirt for this occasion is the one that you like best. If you do attend a few events a year like this, go for a wing tipped, choose the front that you like, invest in quality shirt studs and go that extra step.
STEP 3: THE BOWTIE AND POCKET SQUARE
Self tied bow ties are the business, a little tricky at the start but once you learn how it is fairly easy and definitely worth the effort. Again, do not fret as you can purchase bow ties that are pre-tied, simply adjust the neckband and fasten into place.
Some modern gentlemen have opted for a black tie as an alternative to a bow tie, again this keeps your options open, but may be better kept for funerals. For either option a plain white/ivory silk pocket square is perfect for the occasion. Use a pointed fold or straight edge fold for their more formal look.
STEP 4: WAISTCOAT OR CUMMERBUND?
This is entirely at your discretion, but never choose both. We love a good waistcoat, regardless of the occasion but for black tie it is not a requirement. It would be more common for gentlemen to wear a cummerbund to these events. What is a cummerbund? A cummerbund is a piece of cloth, mostly silk or satin that fits around your waist. This is positioned over your trouser waistband and looks great when you pop that jacket button open.
STEP 5: FOOTWEAR
Black, black, black! Polish those shoes until they are super shiny and then wear them with confidence. Without naming brands, there are plenty of options in the market, look out for Oxford style, or shoes that are rounded toe, polished leather or patent finish for extra gleam!
Ok, now you are good to go and pick up those final pieces. Here’s a brief recap and “traditional” check list below:
SUIT: Dinner jacket and trousers. Satin lapels
SHIRT: White and wing tipped
BOW TIE / POCKETSQUARE: black bow tie, white/ivory pocket square
CUMMERBUND / WAISTCOAT: you choose, but not both
SHOES: patent or very polished