Oh well, another invite just came in. What a blessing. Or is it? First, of course, you’re happy about being invited, but soon after the joy has left room for thinking again, the next thought will hit you – what should you actually wear for the occasion? What is the dress code? Do you have the clothing that is required in your wardrobe, or do you have to go shopping first? An invite is fun, the party will be too – but finding the correct attire for the occasion isn’t. Well, that is unless you know exactly what to wear for each occasion.
From White Tie affairs to Black Tie Optional, we’ve got you covered no matter the occasion in this article. With this in hand, dressing the part doesn’t have to be a cryptic task. Take a good look at our thorough infographic and rule guide below for your edification.
The White Tie Event
The white tie event is also known as “full dress,” and is the rarest and most formal of them all. Let’s go through that one first.
Even the White House only has a couple White Tie events in a year – that’s how formal we’re talking.
For most people, an invitation to an event that has a White Tie dress code is a pretty unlikely one ultimately, but knowledge is great – so in case you ever get invited to one – it is great to know the rules. The first thing that you should know is that this dress code also is the most strict one.
The required parts of a White Tie ensemble includes a white waistcoat worn over a white full-dress dress shirt with stiff bosom and a detachable white pique wing collar. This dress shirt is secured white shirt studs and white cufflinks as well.
A matching white bow tie is an absolute essential item, hence the name of this dress code.
On the bottom half of the body a black pleated trousers with a black satin strip that covers the outer seams (known as the tuxedo stripe) should be worn. These formal type of trousers can then either be tightened with adjustable side tabs, or held up by white suspenders that are worn under the waistcoat.
We should note at this point that proportions are very important when it comes to white tie events. The trousers are high-waisted and the waistcoat must cover the waistband of the trousers, but cannot extend below the front of the tailcoat. Although this is this strictest code, you can still add a subtle touch of your personal style with your choice of formal cufflinks (silver, mother of pearl, etc.), adding a eye-catching boutonniere, or maybe integrating a white pocket square.
Proper footwear is either the more traditional black patent court pump with grosgrain ribbon, or black patent leather oxfords.
The most common events that call for White Tie attire are charity galas, official ceremonies, government ceremonies, and the opera.
The Black Tie Event
The words “Black Tie” may give you memories of high school dances, where you’ve probably been all nervous and uptight, but now that you are all grown up, this type of affair is a bit more involved than renting the generic polyester Tuxedo set from your local suit emporium.
When you attend the company awards nights, your sister’s formal wedding, or charity event that calls for Black Tie, it’s important abide by the rules to look your best. You’ll not want your peers to get the impression that you’re as clueless as a pimply teenager back from your high school years.
A classic black tuxedo is still the standard at these events. The typical tuxedo jacket has a single button and is single breasted with a satin peak lapel and no vent. A black bow tie and black patent leather oxfords are a must. Optional additions to the basic tuxedo include a simple (usually white) pocket square or an elegant opera scarf.
Black Tie events are the most commonly used dress codes for any polished event, and knowing how to dress for it is a great weapon to have in your arsenal of style.
A variation on the traditional Black Tie dress code is Warm Weather Black Tie which features a white jacket instead of the black one, and is sometimes called upon for summer formal events. Formal or evening weddings, company awards dinners, and some private dinners are all occasions that may require you to wear a Tuxedo.
The Black Tie Optional Event
The fact that the word “optional” is in the title is only begging for confusion. We get it. It sounds quite confusing, admitted. A host may choose this dress code if they want to be considerate of the fact that not all guests may own a Tuxedo.
At these type of events, it is acceptable to forgo the Tuxedo (if you absolutely must) and instead choose a polished black suit. However, if you have the means, we still encourage you to wear a Tuxedo of some sort. If you need to rent one though, stick to the black suit.
Because of the precarious nature of the word “optional,” we suggest you to contact the host if you need clarification. Better safe than sorry.
A Black Tie Optional event still has a formal nature, but it has slightly more relaxed rules for attire. A necktie is still necessary, and so are your polished black shoes. Accessories can be used to express personal style too. Instead of a bow tie, you can opt for a necktie with a handsome tie bar, or a classy lapel flower. You’re most likely to run into this category at weddings, stylish events, formal dinners, and galas.
The Black Tie Creative Event
This variation on the standard Black Tie category allows the party to get started with a little festivity added to it. Black Tie Creative events should be seen as opportunities to showcase your personal style in terms of color, accessories, collar and lapel style. You may choose the uncommon shawl lapel, or a slim cut Tuxedo in a dark saturated color like midnight blue, navy or maroon. A coloured jacket, coloured wingtips shoes, or a brightly coloured bow tie are all considered fair game in this particular category. Even donning a black dress shirt instead of a white one can add a subtle creative flair to the outfit. Although this dress code offers quite some flexibility, it is ever the more important to keep in mind, that if the event is “Black Tie” at all, no matter how festive or creative it is. It still is a formal event and your sartorial modifications should still honour the formal atmosphere of the event. Keep in mind that wearing a standard Tuxedo, or an ensemble with “black tie optional” qualities is also perfectly acceptable.
A variant of the Black Tie Creative dress code is Festive Black Tie. How you should dress to this occasion depends on the given situation or theme of the party. The most common example of a Festive Black Tie event is a company Christmas party, but there are infinite ways to twist it and that depends on the host. Fun themes like “Black Tie and Boots” call for wearing a bolo tie with a tuxedo or sporting a Western-themed tie or cufflinks.
The Lounge Dress code
A Lounge dress code event maintains formality while allowing for the integration of more color and options into your look. Tuxedos are totally out of the picture for this dress code, so don’t even think about it. If you’ll take a suggestion from us at Exclusive Tailor, opt for a suit in a dark, neutral color such as classic black, navy, or gray. Feel free to take a little liberty with your lapel and collar styles, as the Lounge attire is less strict than the other formal dress codes out there.
Polished shoes are not necessary and both black and brown shoes will be perfect choices. If you are feeling adventurous on that day, feel free to mix in a pastel coloured dress shirt, or a subtly patterned necktie to give your suit character.
Pairing a skinny tie with a nice tie bar can also give your Lounge outfit a modern edge. This category can be worn to daytime formal parties or business dinners.
Gone is the dread of another invitation where a certain dress code is called for! Now that you are seasoned in formal dress codes, take a little liberty when you can and remember when you shouldn’t.
The age-old rule of thumb has not changed – It’s always better to be overdressed than under-dressed!