What To Wear To A Black Tie Event

man in tuxedo looking at mirror

Black tie events are the highlights of everyone’s year. Whether it’s a friend’s wedding or a charity function, black tie events are an occasion to dress your best. When an event is ‘black tie’, it comes with a strict dress code that you need to keep in mind when planning what to wear. If you have a special occasion in your diary, then our guide will show you what you have to wear.

When you receive an invitation that states that the dress code is ‘black tie’, you might start to panic. Black tie is one of the last formal dress codes that are still common today. It is most common for extravagant weddings and official functions such as a charity auction or a corporate dinner. The ‘black tie’ dress code started in the late 19th century in the court of Edward VIII when he swapped his formal tailcoats for what we would now consider as a tuxedo. 

What to wear to a black tie event?

Black tie dress codes for men requires a white dress shirt with wingtips, a bow tie, a dinner jacket, aka a tuxedo, matching color pants, and black oxford shoes. Let us explore more in detail how to pair up your formal ensemble.

Black Tie Dinner Jacket

Getting the right fit to your suit is essential to meet the ‘black tie’ dress code. Your outfit needs to have a slim-fitting dinner jacket with a tailored lapel. The most common type of lapel is the shawl, which is a piece of silk that runs as one continuous piece of fabric from your collar to just above your button closure that tapers off.

As all things ‘70s fashion are back in vogue, you can swap this out with a velvet jacket if you desire. ‘Black tie’ does not necessarily mean that your suit needs to be black. While the white tuxedo continues to be one of the biggest debates in menswear, you can easily opt for a navy-blue suit.

tuxedo with velvet pattern
Velvet Floral Patterned Tuxedo by Cuffz


Bow Tie

Black tie events call for a bow tie. Wearing a traditional tie to such an event is an absolute no-go. As for the color of the bow tie, it is ok to go for other colors instead of black. It might even give you an extra dash of personality. One exception to this is the white bow tie, as it is usually reserved for 'white tie' events.

black bow tie
Black Bow Tie with Floral Motif by Cuffz


White Pleated Shirt

Your white shirt needs to be freshly ironed, with no creases or crinkles. The dress shirt should have a pleated front, and also French cuffs to adorn your cufflinks.

Novelty cufflinks are for casual events and semi-formal dinners, not black-tie functions. You can elevate your black-tie look by keeping your accessories monochrome by opting for a pair of silver cufflinks.

If you want to coordinate your black-tie look, then you can invest in a set of matching tuxedo studs to replace your shirt buttons. For black-tie events, it’s best practice to keep your tuxedo studs, cufflinks and bowtie all the same colour.

Silver Mother of Pearl Round Tuxedo Stud Set
Silver Mother of Pearl Round Tuxedo Stud Set by Cuffz


Footwear should be formal evening shoes, and patent leather or polished Oxford shoes are a go-to choice. Play it safe and keep your footwear simple. Leave the novelty socks at home and stick to comfortable black socks. 

Man tying black Oxford shoe

Optional Accessories

Optional accessories for black tie events include a pocket square. If you’re attending with a female guest, this is the perfect opportunity to coordinate with her outfit by adding a pocket square in the same colour as her dress.

You can also show off your jewellery collection by opting for a slim formal watch with a simple face and a leather or gold strap. 

Pocket square in tuxedo

We hope our guide provides you with a starting point for planning your outfit for a black-tie event. If you are concerned about meeting the requirements of the dress code, then it is always best to keep your look classic. 

When in doubt, think of what James Bond would wear.