What To Wear To A Black Tie Event

Black Tie Dress Code Explained

If you’ve been invited to a gala dinner, an awards ceremony, or a significant birthday or anniversary celebration, you will most likely see the black tie dress code cited on your invitation.

The black-tie dress code is formal and striking and sends out a sophisticated and elegant message. However, contrary to popular belief, dressing for such an occasion need not be daunting. Instead, it is a great reason to push your styling away from your standard formalwear attire and give yourself an excuse to dress up.

Did you know that traditional black tie isn’t actually black?

 It is a very dark midnight blue.

How should men dress for a black tie occasion?

The black-tie dress code sits on the formality scale between white-tie and semi-formal and requires men to wear a dinner jacket or tuxedo, complete with matching dress trousers, a white dress shirt, black formal shoes and a bow tie.


A dinner jacket or tuxedo, as it is known in the United States, is traditionally made from velvet or black wool. It includes interesting detailing, such as satin buttons and lapels, which add a particularly dapper flair to your overall look.

If you opt for a style such as a velvet dinner jacket, it should always be single-breasted or double-breasted with satin or silk peaked lapels and covered buttons.

Adding a waistcoat to your black tie outfit is optional, and some people wear a horseshoe waistcoat to complete their look. You may also wish to wear a cummerbund sash to elevate your black tie look one step further.

If the invite says black tie optional, do you have to wear a tuxedo?

If your invite states that a black tie dress code is optional, then you may wear a dark-coloured suit instead of a dinner jacket ensemble.

We recommend opting for a black, dark navy or charcoal suit if you’re going down this route, but why not rise to the occasion and go all out with a traditional dinner jacket instead? After all, how many times does an invite like this fall into your lap?

What shirt should you wear to a black tie event?

The black-tie dress code states that a white dress shirt made in a stiff cotton fabric named Marcella is the optimal choice. Your dress shirt should have a turn-down collar and must be worn with cufflinks.

What shoes should you wear to a black tie event?

A patent leather dress shoe is always the best choice. However, you may wear a velvet slipper to add extra interest to your look. It is also worth considering what socks you wear with your shoes. Mid-calf socks in black or navy will be the most appropriate.

Should you wear a belt to a black tie event?

Your black tie outfit should not include a belt. Most dinner suit trousers have adjustable side tabs on the waistband and formal brace buttons in the interior of the waistband. You can use these to secure a set of formal braces if you wish to wear them.

Things to remember when considering your black tie outfit

Ensure that your trousers, shirt and dinner jacket fit properly. On such a glamorous occasion, there is nothing worse than ill-fitting formalwear, which can make you look like you’ve raided a dressing-up box.

If you can afford to invest, always buy your black tie outfit instead of hiring it to ensure that the fit is perfect and well-suited to your shape.

We hope you’ve found this guide on black tie dressing straightforward and simple to follow, but if all else fails...think of James Bond, and you won’t go far wrong.

If you’ve been invited to a black tie event, here at XPOSED London, we stock a fantastic range of elegant tuxedos and dinner jackets in various finishes and colours, including traditional black and more creative colours such as burgundy and blue, so you’ll be sure to find a complete look from our collection.