Dress Code: Black Tie

7 min
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For ages, black tie attire has embodied elegance and sophistication. Evolving from its 19th-century roots, it has matured into a symbol of refined formality at exceptional gatherings. Delving into the history of men's black tie ensembles unveils a fascinating journey—how this dress code was born and how it has gracefully transformed across the ages.image5

History of the black tie attire

Let's delve into the historical tapestry of this dress code, tracing its roots back to the fascinating era of the 1860s. In that time, the Prince of Wales, affectionately known as Bertie, embarked on a sartorial endeavor that would leave an indelible mark. Seeking a fresh garment suitable for the more relaxed gatherings at his Royal haven, Sandringham, Bertie collaborated with a distinguished Savile Row tailor. Their creative partnership yielded a remarkable innovation: a shortened coat, a departure from the conventional tailcoat design. This innovative creation, later christened the dinner jacket, emerged in a striking dark blue hue - a departure from the now-iconic black.

The narrative then crosses the Atlantic to the United States, where this transformative attire underwent a distinct transformation in nomenclature: the Tuxedo. This fascinating evolution centers around The Tuxedo Club, an enclave just outside New York. Comprising members who frequented the same Savile Row tailor as the British monarch, this exclusive club became a crucible of inspiration. Infused with the cosmopolitan flair of London's Savile Row, these patrons brought the dinner jacket back to the U.S., an elegant fusion of British sophistication and American style. Thus, the Tuxedo was born, an embodiment of cultural exchange and fashion innovation, forever adorning the annals of style history.

Classic Black Tie outfit for men

The standard outfit for the black tie dress code consists of the following: a black/dark blue tuxedo, a white tuxedo shirt, a black silk bow tie, a cummerbund or waistcoat, patent shoes and a white pocket square.Image1

The tuxedo

When adhering to the black tie dress code, opt for a black or dark blue tuxedo featuring silk lapels. The tuxedo shares its fabric between the jacket and trousers, distinguished by the silk-finished lapels and a subtle silk trim known as a gallon, gracing the sides of the trousers.
The dinner jacket boasts versatile styles, with the shawl-collared version being the most prevalent and traditional. It showcases a one-button closure. Additionally, you'll find dinner jackets with peaked lapels and even double-breasted variations.

While black and dark blue tuxedos dominate the scene, a lively discussion swirls around the white dinner jacket. Some argue it's suited solely for regions below the equator, while others embrace its versatility. Pair the white tuxedo jacket with standard black tuxedo trousers, adorned with a silk trim.Image10

The tuxedo shirt

Crafting a polished ensemble begins with the right shirt. The timeless tuxedo shirt, typically white, offers a range of styles - from pleated and piqué breasts to various collar options like wing tip or regular cut away. These shirts consistently flaunt double French cuffs, necessitating cufflinks for securing.

Usually fastened with black removable studs, the classic tuxedo shirt can also be donned with a concealed button placket or regular buttons.

The epitome of sophistication, the favored tuxedo shirt features a pleated breast, removable black studs, french cuffs and a wing tip collar. Your choice of shirt sets the tone for your entire look.

Here you can see our full range of tuxedo shirts.image3

Black bow tie

Staying true to the dress code, the bow tie should be black and ideally crafted from silk to harmonize with your tuxedo's lapels. The choice between self-tied or pre-tied is yours. We lean towards the self-tied option, ensuring an authentic touch. If you seek guidance in perfecting the knot. refer to our step-by-step guide here.

Here you can see our full range of bow ties.


The cummerbund, a pivotal accessory in this dress code, embraces your waistline, striking a harmonious balance between your tuxedo jacket and trousers. In sync with your tie, lapels, and trousers' details, it should be black and crafted from silk. Traditionally, the pleats of the cummerbund face upwards, originally designed to stow items like opera tickets. Originating in 1850s India, British military officers were inspired by local belt-wearing practices, replacing the warmer waistcoats in the heat. Today, the cummerbund is a global style statement. While a double-breasted tuxedo eliminates the need for it as it should be buttoned throughout the event. If the cummerbund is not to your taste consider a matching tuxedo vest as an alternative, seamlessly complementing your attire's fabric.

Pocket square

Enhance your ensemble with a touch of elegance – add a white silk pocket square. A perfect match for this dress code, it creates a striking contrast against the dark jacket while harmoniously connecting with the white shirt. This accessory adds a final flourish, elevating your outfit to a new level of refinement.


For a flawless black-tie look, opt for the classic laced black patent shoe – a timeless choice that exudes sophistication. Alternatively, embrace opulence with velvet slippers or opera pumps. Whichever you choose, accompany them with black socks, ideally in a higher model to maintain a polished appearance throughout the event. Your footwear completes the ensemble, ensuring you radiate refined elegance from head to toe.


While traditionally reserved for less formal occasions, silk scarves can infuse your black tie ensemble with a touch of individuality and charm. Opt for a silk scarf in a darker hue to add depth and personality to your look. This subtle yet distinct accessory allows you to express your style while maintaining the elegant essence of the event. Explore the art of sophisticated self-expression by embracing a silk scarf that complements your distinguished attire. Perhaps the Dark Blue Dots Wool and Silk Scarf or the Black Polka Dots Silk Scarf?


Contrary to the white tie dress code, wearing a wristwatch is entirely appropriate for a black tie event. However, selecting the right watch is essential. Opt for a smaller, more refined timepiece that exudes a timeless elegance. While bulky diver's watches have their merits, they might appear mismatched in this formal context. Instead, consider a smaller, perhaps rectangular watch in silver or gold, complemented by a black strap. This choice seamlessly aligns with the understated and sophisticated color palette of your ensemble, adding a subtle yet striking touch of sophistication.


Classic tuxedo trousers are designed without belt loops, so if you require additional support, suspenders are the perfect solution. Opt for black suspenders to maintain the sleek aesthetic. For trousers equipped with built-in buttons on the inside, consider button-on suspenders for a secure fit. These subtle yet essential accessories not only keep your ensemble immaculate but also add a touch of timeless sophistication to your black tie outfit.

Classic black tie outfit for women

While dress codes often revolve around male attire, women's choices for black tie events are equally important. Opt for a formal evening gown that exudes grace or a knee-length cocktail dress for a refined yet contemporary look. Unlike the ultra-formal white tie dress code, black tie events allow for a touch of daring. Feel free to explore a spectrum of colors and patterns, all while ensuring your outfit resonates with the occasion's sophistication. Strike the perfect balance between boldness and appropriateness, making your ensemble a statement of timeless elegance.

To think about

In our quest to offer a comprehensive guide for black tie events, we emphasize the importance of every element in your ensemble radiating sophistication. Beyond the discussed attire and accessories, grooming and personal presentation also wield substantial influence in achieving the desired look. Your well-groomed appearance harmonizes with your attire, projecting you as a distinguished guest at the event. Attend to your hairstyle and grooming regimen to attain a polished appearance. Opt for refined fragrances that enhance your presence subtly, contributing to the event's ambiance. By mastering these nuances, you're poised to make a lasting impression and seize the opportunity to showcase your most elegant self at any black tie affair.image6

Black tie creative

Black tie creative is a modern twist on the classic dress code, inviting you to infuse your personal flair into your attire. This variation offers room for interpretation and the chance to tailor your outfit uniquely. A notable departure is the allowance to experiment with the color and fabric of your tuxedo. While retaining the traditional black or dark blue pants with silk-trimmed side details, you can introduce a jacket in an alternative hue – envision a lush velvet tuxedo jacket in deep burgundy or rich green.

If a boldly colored tuxedo isn't your preference, you can still make your mark through accessories. Experiment with a bow tie in a distinctive color or pattern, while a black bow tie remains a steadfast choice. Similarly, your cummerbund can be a canvas for a vibrant shade. Don't shy away from adding a pop of color with a pocket square or quirky socks. And why not flaunt those whimsical cufflinks you received last Christmas?

Ladies, your version of this dress code mirrors the principles of individuality. Embrace the freedom to embrace bolder hues and patterns, just as men do. Black tie creative empowers you to craft an ensemble that mirrors your distinctive personality while staying in sync with the event's essence.image8image9Image7

When to wear black tie attire

From galas and charity balls exuding an air of elegance to opera and theater premieres where the classic tuxedo captures the glamour of the occasion, black tie attire graces each event with a confident touch. Evening weddings, especially in grand venues, demand black tie elegance to ensure you're impeccably dressed for the celebration. Whether it's corporate dinners, private gatherings, or award ceremonies, the black tie ensemble elevates your presence to a distinguished level. High-end parties and exclusive soirées naturally call for the sophistication that black tie ensembles effortlessly provide. And as the New Year arrives, welcome it with timeless style at New Year's Eve galas, embracing the tradition of black tie for an unforgettable night. It's essential to remember that adhering to the stated dress code for each event is not only a mark of respect but also a way to contribute to the ambiance and elegance of the occasion.

While black tie events are often associated with special occasions, owning a tuxedo presents an opportunity to elevate even more of life's moments. If you already have this timeless ensemble in your wardrobe, consider using it beyond the expected occasions. Hosting an intimate dinner party, celebrating a milestone birthday, or even a romantic evening out can become more memorable when you bring a touch of refined elegance to the occasion. Your tuxedo can become a versatile asset, allowing you to create extraordinary moments whenever you desire. So, whether it's a grand gala or a quieter rendezvous, let your tuxedo be your companion in embracing life's exceptional experiences.

Black Tie Attire