Black Tie Wedding Attire

man wearing tuxedo and white dress shirt with bow tie to black tie wedding

When you receive a wedding invitation, you should really focus on the dress code. Some dress codes don’t require much, and you’ll relax when you see one on the invitation card. 

However, a “black tie optional” dress code often raises panic, especially if you don’t know what it entails and don’t know if you have black tie wedding attire. Outside of white tie attire, a black tie wedding dress code is the most formal dress code, and it is a sign that the couple intends to hold a more formal ceremony and reception.

So, what is stopping you from enjoying the royalty feeling with a black tie dress code? What does dressing up with a black tie outfit mean for the couple and their guests? A recent study by APS (Association for Psychological Science) showed that "participants wearing formal clothing favored global processing [or 'the big picture'] over local processing more often than the students wearing their street clothes."

Here, we’ll tell you what a black tie dress code means, how it compares with other dress codes like semi-formal, and the barriers associated with it. We’ll also share some black tie wedding attire to inspire your search. 


What is a Black Tie Wedding Dress Code?

Why does guests’ dress code matter during a black tie dress code wedding?

Well, a wedding is one of the most memorable days in one’s life. Therefore, it is vital to set the scene to be refined and unique. Additionally, the photographs will capture every person attending the event. Thus, the guests should understand what they need to put on to ensure the day is perfect.   

black tuxedo with white tuxedo shirt and black bow tie and pocket square

A black tie dress code denotes an official evening occasion where men are supposed to wear tuxedos while the ladies put on floor-length gowns. The rules have been relaxed over the years, and people are not as strict with the dress codes as they used to be in earlier years.

However, if you are to hold a black tie wedding, even if the men will not be in tuxedos, they should wear dinner jackets and exquisite shoes with matching pants. Here are our guides on how to measure your waist for pants and creative black tie dress code.

On the other hand, if the women will not wear floor-length dresses, which are most preferred, they should wear a cocktail dress that is not very revealing. It should also have a rich fabric and a rich tone. They can also include some ultra-glam accessories. 

What Do You Wear to a Black Tie Wedding?

Whether you are wearing a tuxedo or a dinner jacket, a black tie dress code means that you put on a plain black bowtie or necktie. You should also ensure that you have a formal shirt under the dinner jacket or tuxedo. The shirt can come in various options, including buttons or cufflinks to ensure you get the most comfortable formal shirt for the event. A boutonniere may add a nice touch of class to your ensemble. 

Is there a Difference Between Formal and Black Tie Attire?

A black tie dress code is strict. It means you wear black tie wedding attire from head to toe, including a tuxedo, a formal shirt, a black tie or bowtie, and an elegant pair of shoes. The only allowance is that you can put on a dinner jacket instead of a tuxedo. The same strict rules apply to ladies who must put on foot-length gowns.

If the couple puts in the invitation card that the dress code is formal, they offer you some flexibility. As such, men can put on a well-tailored suit for formal wear. For the ladies, the foot-length gown is recommended. A formal dress code offers ladies flexibility such that they can put on a cocktail dress. Here's a separate guide to cocktail attire for men and the difference between semi-formal vs formal.

Although a formal outfit is less strict than a black tie attire, it doesn’t mean it is less critical. If the couple asks for a formal dress code, you should try as much as possible to comply. A formal dress will have all the aspects of a black tie dress code wedding but with a little flexibility for the guests to choose an outfit that best fits their style. 

formal suit jacket with pocket square and tie 

Is Choosing a Black Tie Wedding Rude?

Having a black tie wedding is not rude. You have the freedom to decide how your wedding ceremony can be and should be, including having a black tie wedding. However, you may need to allow your guests a little flexibility. 

For instance, you can include “black tie recommended or optional" in your invitation card instead of having a strictly black tie with a tuxedo dress code. This will help your guests stick to your dress code while experimenting a little with styles that make them feel comfortable. 

If you plan on having many friends and family members, it will be helpful to inform them early enough that you plan to hold a black tie wedding. This will give your loved ones enough time to plan, save for their black tie wedding attire, and purchase one of these best tuxedo shirts or the right dress for a black tie wedding.

You can also decide to gift your groomsmen and bridal party with a part of the dress code, such as cufflinks for the men’s shirts or shoes for the ladies. Or you can assist with a stipend for the requested dress code. Check out our comprehensive guide on groomsmen gifts.

mens black tie wedding attire

Do Ladies Have to Wear Black for a Black Tie Wedding?

A black tie attire for men means a tuxedo or a dinner jacket that is primarily black, although you can find them in other colors nowadays, which are still acceptable. Therefore, you’ll see a lot of black clothing when you attend a black tie wedding. 

But does that mean that a woman must also wear black?

A black tie event does not dictate that it is mandatory for a woman to wear a black dress. A lady is free to experiment with any color of her choice that oozes opulence. Additionally, the lady can compliment her look with some fantastic jewels that make her stand out with opulence during a fancy occasion. 

Plus, you shouldn’t rule out floral prints with women's black tie wedding attire, which are also an excellent option for a black tie event.


Can You Don a Suit in a Black Tie Wedding?

Ladies are free to wear a tailored and formal suit while attending a black tie wedding and remain within the dress code requirements. Since some people may not be comfortable with floor-length gowns, designers came up with other options for ladies who want a modern look and stick to the couple’s wishes. 

difference between tuxedo and suit infographic

On the other hand, men should avoid wearing a suit in a black tie event. They are expected to have a tuxedo or a dinner jacket during the event. The difference between a suit and a tuxedo is that the latter comes with various details, making it a perfect option for celebrations. 

Furthermore, most men will wear a tuxedo with a bowtie, making the entire outfit unique and ceremonial. On the other hand, most men will wear a suit with a regular tie which may not fit the special ceremony. 

black bow tie with tuxedo pleat bib shirt

Black Tie Wedding Attire Tips

  • Ensure your outfit is a perfect fit and well-tailored as well-fitting attire looks more formal and fit for the occasion. You may not want to attend a black tie wedding with an oversize jacket or baggy trousers
  • If you are to wear a belt, ensure it matches in color with your shoes. A black belt should go with black shoes while a brown belt should match with brown shoes. It would be best if you never mixed brown shoes with a black belt for whatever reason
  • Limit your accessories to at least two per outfit. Accessories should complement your outfit but not be the main point of focus. Since the black tie wedding is formal, you may not want to overdo the accessories part. A pocket square and a watch are enough accessories for a formal black tie wedding

  • Ensure you don’t have bulging things in your pocket. Things in your pocket such as keys, phones, and wallets cause some bulges that ruin the formal look
  • If you are wearing a black tie, ensure that the topmost button of your shirt is closed. The tie may not look flattering if the top button is not closed
  • Ensure that your shirt sleeves are slightly longer than the jacket sleeves. If the jacket sleeves are too long, you can consider having them tailored to make sure the shirt sleeves are longer

Are There Black Tie Options? 

Sometimes the invitation card can come with a black tie optional dress code. This sounds confusing, right? 

Well, a black tie optional dress code is not as confusing as you may think. If you are familiar with the black tie wedding dress code, a black tie outfit won’t be challenging to understand. 

Simply put, a black tie optional dress code means you’ll find your hosts in a black tie outfit. However, the couple is courteous enough to understand that you may not be happy with the strict formal outfit. Thus, they allow you a little freedom to experiment with your outfit. 

visual infographic of what black tie optional dress code looks like

The dress code means that you can wear your most formal outfit, but you are also free to put on a cocktail dress or formal suit. Since the couple and their wedding party will dress in a black tie outfit, it is also essential that your outfit reflects a high level of formality. 

The black tie dress code will appear as “black tie encouraged” or “black tie invited.” This means the couple really wants you and other guests to wear a tux or a floor-length gown. However, they are also free to accept dresses and formal suits. 


Black Tie Optional Attire Etiquette

What is the appropriate dress length for the dress code?

Similar to the strict black tie wedding outfits, a full-length gown is the most preferred option for a black tie optional wedding. But this is not the only option you can go for. You can also go for a mid-length dress. However, you should avoid any clothing that goes above your knees as it is considered overly casual. Here's the guide to casual wedding attire dress code.

Another rule about the black tie optional dress code that people are unsure of is the type of jacket to pair with the dress pants. The main difference between black tie and black tie optional dress codes is that a tuxedo or a dinner jacket is mandatory for the former. You are free to do away with the tuxedo for the black tie optional dress codes and replace it with a suit jacket and an understated tie. 

In terms of colors, it is best to go for dark hues such as navy, charcoal black, and black colors. 

What’s more?

Jumpsuits are also another area where guests are not clear with the black tie optional outfits. Can one wear a jumpsuit to a black tie optional wedding? The answer depends on the style of the jumpsuit. You shouldn’t go for anything that seems too laid back, including brightly colored fabrics, patterns, and flowy silhouettes. 

On the contrary, you should go for an option that is tailored and more elevated. 

Appropriate Black Tie Attire    

If you are looking for the best products for your black tie wedding attire, here are some accessories that you can consider. 

Classic Solid Black Tie 

black tie wedding attire

Do you want a stylish and quality tie to wear with your formal shirt for the black tie wedding? If yes, the Classic Solid Black Tie by Nimble is a perfect pick. The solid black tie is a perfect choice for any formal event, including weddings, and it pairs well with white dress shirts. Here is a separate guide to men wearing white to weddings.

You can put on a solid, slim necktie with a formal shirt for a formal evening event and enjoy your classy look. Besides black tie weddings, you can wear the tie in other events such as funerals, formal dinner parties, and galas. 

The tie has a polyester material construction that makes it classy and long-lasting. The material also makes it easy to clean. Its slim design also enhances its choice as a formal wear. Ensure you wear it with a fitting shirt, dinner jacket, or tuxedo. We have a list of must-have dress shirts for weddings here.


White Dress Shirt | The Crescent

If you want the perfect shirt to wear with your tux or dinner jacket to a black tie wedding, the Crescent white dress shirt is an excellent option. The white color is ideal for matching with the tux, which is primarily black.

The white dress shirt also stands out from the rest due to its lightweight material, which enhances its comfort. You can have it throughout the day, from the garden event to the evening party. 

The Crescent white dress shirt features a 100% cotton material that makes it comfortable and durable. The cotton material is not as warm as wool material, making the shirt a perfect pick for a summer wedding. The material will also help to keep you cool and fresh throughout the day. 

The slim fit design makes the shirt stylish, while the metal engraved collar ensures the collars remain straight all through.

A black tie wedding is a formal event that requires you to be careful with the type of accessories you choose. You should use a few elegant accessories such as a watch, pocket square, cufflinks, etc. The Crescent dress shirt comes with two-button adjustable rounded cuffs that add some class to your outfit. 

According to the care instructions, the white dress shirt is easy to maintain, which makes it durable. You can machine wash it and hang it to dry. You are also free to steam or easy-iron the shirt, and you can also dry clean it. 

black tie wedding attire & accessories

What to Wear to a Black Tie Wedding Conclusion

What is the proper attire for a black tie wedding? A black tie wedding is a strictly formal event requiring guests to don tuxedos or a dinner jacket for men. It would be best if you also paired the tux with a formal shirt and a pair of elegant leather shoes. 

On the other hand, ladies should dress in a floor-length gown, but it may not necessarily be black. The rule is changing with time as shorter hemlines are not acceptable in black tie events.

A black tie wedding is different from a black tie optional outfit as the latter allows the guests some freedom. The couple and their wedding party will wear strict black tie outfits, but the guests can don a suit and an understated tie. 


Frequently asked questions about black tie wedding dress code

What do men wear to a black tie wedding?

Men typically wear a black tuxedo or dinner jacket with a formal white dress shirt, black formal trousers, a black bow tie, black dress shoes, and often a black waistcoat or cummerbund.

Can you wear a regular suit to a black tie wedding?

Traditionally, a regular suit is not considered appropriate for a black tie wedding. A black tie event calls for a more formal attire like a tuxedo or dinner jacket as mentioned earlier.

What is a black tie event dress code for men?

The black tie dress code for men typically requires a black tuxedo or dinner jacket, a formal white dress shirt, black formal trousers, a black bow tie, black dress shoes, and optional accessories like a black waistcoat or cummerbund, and formal cufflinks.

Can you wear a normal suit to a black tie event?

Wearing a regular suit to a black tie event is not considered appropriate. A black tie event demands a higher level of formality, and men are expected to wear a tuxedo or dinner jacket with the specified dress code elements.

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