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what to wear to a black tie eventwhat to wear to a black tie event


What to wear to a black tie event

by Slaters Style   February 21, 2020


Well, if the invitation says ‘black tie’, the answer is pretty straightforward, and Slater Menswear has everything you need to nail it. If your invitation is ‘black-tie optional’, though, the options are more varied but fall within a few key guidelines. And yes, we have everything you need to nail this, too – from expert guidance to a comprehensive range of outfitting options to match the brief.

‘Black tie optional’ is essentially a courtesy that means you needn’t go full tux if you haven’t the funds or inclination to – but it’s by no means a licence to dress down.


What does ‘black tie’ really mean?

First things first – it doesn’t mean you can just wear a black tie and be done with it. Strictly speaking, it means a tuxedo, accompanied by a black dinner jacket and matching trousers, with an optional black formal waistcoat or cummerbund, a white formal shirt, a black bow tie or long tie, black dress socks, and black formal shoes. In likely hot weather, a white or ivory dinner jacket is perfectly acceptable… with a cummerbund instead of the clashing dark waistcoat.

Sounds uncompromising and formal, but in its pure form, it is. And the last thing you want at a black-tie event is to have missed the meeting on what to wear!



And it’s a big but – genuine black-tie events are fairly rare beyond military or highly exclusive events, and ‘black tie’ can mean different things to different event organisers. The best policy is to get a definitive answer on the dress code before you start to build your outfit. Chances are the brief is more along the lines of black ‘dinner suit’ and accessories. Phew!


Fashionable formality

There’s not much leeway in terms of colour schemes, with only the bow or necktie and pocket square being anything other than black or white – but the stylistic options are there for you to explore and find the formal outfit that has you looking and feeling the part. Slater Menswear has a range of black 2 and 3 piece dinner or ‘evening’ suits in slim and tailored fits, with double-breasted and ‘horseshoe’ waistcoat options for three-piece suits. Meanwhile, many dinner suit jackets feature the signature shiny lapel for additional ‘suaveness’. It’s a nice touch that befits any formal evening event.

An occasion to stand out

So black-tie events have a fairly prescriptive dress code, but that doesn’t mean you can’t raise your game with a tie-matching cummerbund instead of the waistcoat. If there’s a ceremonial side to your evening, Slater Menswear even gives you access to black evening tails – a rare sight but a great way to underline and acknowledge the pomp of the occasion. 

Wedding black tie hire

If your black-tie event is part of posh wedding proceedings, the ‘what to wear’ question could be a lot easier to answer. With our extensive hire options and renowned expertise for ensuring the groom’s inner circle (and the wider wedding party) look sharp and stylish, you can ensure everyone knows exactly how to do black tie – and that the look is consistent and complementary across the group.

And for the balmy summer evening receptions, we also hire a superb white three-piece tuxedo with waistcoat or cummerbund, with availability across the UK.

Ceremonies and events with a strict black tie code are quite rare for most people, so for those where the black-tie isn’t ‘optional’, hiring from the formalwear experts is an excellent way to make sure you meet the brief. That way, you can relax and enjoy the proceedings, and make it a day to remember for all the right reasons.

White tie/black tie – what’s the difference?

The white-tie dress code is similar to black-tie, but even more demanding. White-tie events are considered more prestigious, and require a jacket with tails, a white waistcoat and white bow tie, plus high-waisted tuxedo trousers that typically have a stripe on the outside seams.

Some require a top hat and gloves, but these are specified – not assumed! Good to know if you’re attending a Highland ball, a Royal wedding, or a state ceremony evening do anytime soon!



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