By Hendrik Pohl
Have you been invited to an event that requires ‘black tie attire’, and are a little uncertain what how to dress for the occasion? Below are all the basics you need to know to be dressed appropriately for a black tie function. If you follow the simple tips below you will avoid embarrassing fashion faux pas.
So, for a man, this should be easy, right? You have a black necktie, so you’re good to go! Not necessarily. While the standards vary from country to country and even from event to event, the general consensus is that black-tie means a tuxedo. A black or dark suit is inappropriate for traditional black tie, but would be an acceptable option for an invitation calling for ‘black tie optional’ attire. So, for traditional black tie wear a black tuxedo, black bow tie, and a tuxedo dress shirt. There are two kinds of classic tuxedo shirts: The wing tip collar shirt, and the turn-over collar dress shirt. The wing-tip collar shirt is the most classic type of shirt. It has a heavy starched collar that stands up. Only the tips are folded over. The wing-tip dress shirt might be a slightly uncomfortable for longer events. In this case you might do better with the turn-over collar dress shirt. This type of shirt has a collar like an ordinary dress shirt. It is basically a formal version of the ordinary dress shirt that uses French cuffs, worn with cufflinks, and decorations in form of folds in the front. Such folds are also called pleat.
As for your date, this is an opportunity for her to flaunt her absolute best. Bring out the DeLaurentis! There are far less restrictions on black-tie attire for women, as long as it’s very formal. While basic black is always a good bet, colors, sparkle and glitz are perfectly fine. After all, she’s got the perfect accessory: You, dressed in a color that matches anything in her wardrobe. Although the classic full-length gown is probably most widely accepted, a skirt and top may work to semi-formal, or ‘black tie optional’ events. The skirt hem should fall below her knees; anything shorter is generally not considered formal. Low backs or plunging necklines may be suitable, but consider the guest list before trying anything daring.
How about accessories? For the gentleman, cufflinks definitely belong, and those with a little bit of flash – diamonds or emeralds perhaps, will add a touch of class. If you don’t have a dress watch, don’t wear a watch. The ladies have more leeway here, as well. Diamond bangles, a small sequined handbag, cubic zirconia earrings and matching broche or bracelets – accessorize, but keep it tasteful.
Formal shoes are an absolute must for both of you and they should be immaculate. Guys, if you don’t know how to shine your shoes, have them done professionally. Gals, wear the shoes that best bring your ensemble together. Coordination is the key.
Finally, remember that you need to look as good as your outfit. A visit to the hair stylist is in order. A clean trim for him, including any facial hair, and a simple up do for her. Consider a manicure. Yes, both of you. Check your smile and if necessary, get to your dentist for a cleaning or use a commercial whitening treatment. Remember the deodorant and mouthwash. It may be a long, warm night and you’ll likely be in close proximity to people during your conversations.
Still confused? ‘Black-Tie Attire’ is a snap if you mimic the right icons. Guys, think James Bond (any of them). Girls, go with Audrey Hepburn.
About the Author: H Pohl is an expert author on men’s formal attire. He himself has a love for
formal silk neckties
, bow ties, and cufflinks. He is also the founder of Ties-Necktie.com – an online retailer specializing in formal accessories for men such as cufflinks,
, bow ties, and pocket squares.