Correct dress code to a black tie event:

Feb 18, 2019

As a men’s fashion stylist I am often asked, what is the correct dress code to a black tie event?  The following advice is an all you need to know mens guide to formal wear attire. There is a clear formal wear dress code based on years of tradition. It’s more than fashion for men, it’s etiquette. Unless stated: a full tuxedo is always the correct thing for men to wear, and not a day suit with a regular black tie.

The Correct dress code to a black tie event:

Firstly, let’s look at the difference between a tuxedo on the left and a suit on the right.

Tuxed vs Suit


Spot the difference? A tuxedo, or evening wear is also know as formal attire . And the three main differences between a tuxedo and a suit are:

  • Satin lapels vs matching suit fabric
  • Covered buttons vs regular buttons
  • Satin piping vs no piping

Formal attire: A tuxedo (dinner jacket) is the correct dress code to a black tie event.

Tuxedo styles

There are more options to wear to a red carped style event than just a plain black tuxedo. It depends on whether you are a classic or a debonair man who want to blend in. Or and ambitious and spirited gent preferring to make a stake to and stand out from the crowd.. If you prefer to play it safe, consider changing the colour of your tuxedo from black to navy.

However, if you are more adventurous you can mix and match your Tux jacket.

Mix and match tuxedo

Finishing touches:

Make a note of the following finishing touches. These tips and tricks will elevate your style status from good to great, and will differentiate you from your fellow attendees.

Pocket square: My top tip is to dress a minimal amount of white fabric in the pocket. Less is more to avoid a chest bulge. Cut it into a small piece, iron it with starch to stiffen and stick it in place with double sided tape. If you don’t have a white hankie, use kitchen roll, or even folded white paper!!

Pocket square

Formal wear shoes: Shiny patent leather lace ups are the correct shoes to wear. Younger guys prefer a loafer (slip on) for an edgier look. Tip: Take a sponge to apply a small amount of baby oil to formal shoes. Use this to liven up the glossiness, especially if the shoes are a little old and tired.

Formalwear shoes (Boss)

Formal dress shirt: A formal dress shirt is different from a regular shirt. See the men’s guide below. Collars and plackets are the most noteworthy differences, followed by the dress studs replacing buttons, and pleats down the from of the shirt. Tip: a few layers is starch will keep a shirt crisper looking for longer and gives a shirt a freshly laundered smell.

Infographic of 4 dress shirt options

Dress shirt options for a black tie event.

Embellishments: I have added a few suggestions on how you can personalise your evening wear. Tip: Even the smallest of detail makes a large difference in the presentation.

How to personalise your evening wear.

Finally: What about the rules on wearing a ‘black tie’ to a formal ? A black bow tie is the correct etiquette for a formal event. There are a variety of shapes and styles. Ready tied bow ties are most typical as it takes a lot of skill to tie one from scratch.

Correct black tie etiquette.

I hope you found the men’s correct dress code guide to a black tie event informative. And you are clearer on what formal attire to wear to a black tie event. It’s simple when you know how.



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