TUXEDO GUIDE – THE BLACK TIE DRESS CODE FOR A GENTLEMAN AND HIS LADY
From the Duke Of Windsor in the 30s to 007 – James Bond, Evening wear or Black Tie as its commonly known remains the standard for formal attire.
Yesterday evening I happened to deliver an outfit meant for a black tie event to one of my most loyal clients [for the sake of this article, let’s call him Mr. X]. Mr. X contacted me about a week ago that his company is organizing a black tie event/dinner party which will hold later this evening @ Eko Hotels & Suite here in Lagos State and that he wanted me to style him for the occasion.
During my consultation meeting with him, he started to share some ideas as to what he thought would be okay for him to wear.
I was listening attentively till the point when he asked me the question – Hey, Mr. Kobi, can I just wear a nice shirt, bow tie and well-tailored trouser, a waistcoat and ignore the jacket, just to be different in an attractive way and also…?
That’s when I interjected his question just like Kanye West would if Taylor Swift was on Stage…I said “what!, oh no Mr. X, that’s not gonna work, that’s not your dress code, that’s what the male waiters most likely will be wearing, you know what let me tell you what items are a must have and won’t have for any black tie occasion” and then I started to analyze and spell it all out for him using the MoSCoW method. Pardon my ambiguity…please read on.
So a little TUTORIAL for my fellow Style Consultants reading this….
The MoSCoW method is simply a requirement prioritization technique used in management, business analysis, project management, and software development [which happens to be my other areas of expertise] to reach a common understanding with stakeholders [in this case – my clients] on the importance they place on the delivery of each requirement [in this case – styling for a black tie event] – the acronym for Must Have, Should Have, Could Have and the Won’t Have.
And yeah, I am also an IT Consultant and I try to incorporate some of the methodologies in above-listed discipline in my Fashion Business. It’s easier for me that way since I see each client engagement for my services – be it styling, wardrobe consultation, personal shopping or purchase as a Project which must be managed effectively, delivered timely and under budget. Capisce?
STYLING TIP: In order to deliver a successful Styling Job/Project, it is essential that a clear set of prioritized requirements are agreed with the client, alongside the overall objective, quality, timescale, and budget. And the method for setting priorities I would recommend is MoSCoW.
END OF TUTORIAL…
So guys, without further ado, let’s go straight to the topic.
The basic components of black tie are:
a black dinner jacket with matching trousers || an optional black formal waistcoat or cummerbund || a white formal shirt with wing collar || a black bow tie || black dress socks || black formal shoes and other accessories.
Read further as I break it down for you one by one – Enjoy!
The Jacket must be sleek and clean. The back should not have any vents, however, if it must have vents, only double vents are allowed. A peak lapel is the most formal option, but a shawl collar lapel is also okay. You must avoid a notched lapel at all costs. The velvet dinner jacket is also acceptable and has that cool vintage look. If you choose to wear this, you should pair it with clean cut black trousers ONLY, and never with same velvet trousers. One button is the norm for single-breasted models and pockets should not have flaps.
#2. WAIST COVERING
(a) The rare U-shaped full-back evening waistcoat with straight bottom. This waistcoat which is best suited to a peaked lapel single breasted jacket and not with double-breasted jackets
(b) The more common black cummerbund made from silk to match the jacket facings can be worn around your waist instead of a waistcoat. It’s best suited to shawl lapel jacket.
Trousers for a Black Tie event should have plain hemmed bottoms, no cuffs/turn-ups at the bottom. They should not have belt loops and should never be worn with a belt. The trousers should not have pleats. They can be worn with or without suspenders, though the suspenders must be either black or white.
It should be same material and color as the jacket. They can be black or midnight blue, the only acceptable colors for a black tie event. They should be slimmer towards the ankle, meaning bootcut trousers are not acceptable.
It should be white fabric either pleated, plain or piqué/Marcela. For a black-tie event, you should choose a turndown collar instead of wing collar (which is more appropriate for a white tie event). Although in this modern age, wing collars are used with black ties.
If you are wearing the pleated white shirt, ensure it’s tight and neat instead of bulging out in front which doesn’t make it smart. Either a fly front (concealed buttons) or French placket (buttons on the show) is acceptable. It must be French cuff/double cuff as well and should be worn with simple but elegant cufflinks – black, white or silver.
#5. THE SHOES
First of all, a black-tie event isn’t the time to experiment with different types of shoes and colors. So no Brogues, No double or single monk strap. It must also be a black shoe, well-shined and smart. If you have black patent leather shoes, that’s better. Oxfords or Pumps with a satin or silk bow on the top is also acceptable.
Never rock a long necktie to a black-tie event. The only neckwear allowable is a black bow tie and should be hand-tied. To tie a bow tie is not difficult, and can be easily learned. It’s just like tying your shoelace. Watch the video below to learn and then practice.
Black silk socks are preferable, although you can wear black wool or cotton socks. However, if you are bold enough to pull off colorful socks with evening wear, by all means, do so while keeping it simple too.
8. POCKET WEAR/HANDKERCHIEF
This is optional, however, if you wish to wear a something in the breast pocket then you may wear a simple silk or linen white colored handkerchief or a white and black polka dot pocket square. The idea is to keep it simple.
A flower may be worn. Red and white carnation, blue cornflower, and rosebud have all been popular at times. In France, the boutonnière is usually a gardenia, and boutonnières and handkerchiefs are not worn simultaneously.
This is also optional. But the rule says Never wear a belt, even if hidden by a cummerbund. Instead, wear suspenders, preferably black, if you need to keep your trousers up.
11. WRIST WEARS
By default, traditionally visible timepieces are not worn with a formal evening dress, because timekeeping is not supposed to be considered a priority. That’s why pocket watches are more appropriate. However times are changing, nowadays you can wear a nice authentic subtle chain wristwatch. You cannot wear a Rubber or Sports Wrist Watches to a black-tie event.
ALSO READ: HOW TO MATCH A WATCH TO YOUR OUTFIT
BLACK TIE EVENT FOR LADIES:
This is a night for you to look your most gorgeous, dress your best in your evening wear and come out to have fun! The choice of whether to over a dress or under dress in your formal attire should be a function of the nature of invitation itself.
A simple get together party from 6 pm to 8 pm will require only a little black dress, while a more lavish affair to celebrate someone’s monumental achievement or an end of year party will require more. In simple terms, the greater the effort of the host, the greater the level of formality expected of you as a guest.
GOWN: Wear a long formal gown or a shorter fancy cocktail dress that is black tie appropriate. The choice is based on what suits you, your legs and your age. Older women prefer long formal gowns while young ladies feel more suited to short gowns. The Colors to keep in mind for the gown: jewel tones, emerald, ruby, amethyst and, of course, black.
JEWELS: Bring out your best jewels, with plenty of sparklers (but tiaras are inappropriate). Sparkly earrings and bracelets are expected as well.
SHOES: Also wear high heels instead of flat heels.
BAG: Your handbag should complement your dressing. And there are specific types of handbag suitable for evening wear, see details below to choose from.
Type of Bag
Type of Bag
|BAGUETTE||A long, narrow shape of a loaf of French bread||ENVELOPE||Slim clutch, shaped like an envelope, often with pointed flap|
|CLUTCH||Lacks straps or handles, meant to be held||MINAUDIERE||A hard case bag, either a clutch design or with a strap|
|CROSS-BODY||Features strap to be worn across the body||WRISTLET||A small bag with a strap to secure it to the wearer’s wrist|
In conclusion, I will leave you with an Expert’s advice on Black Tie
“There should be nothing more exciting to the fashionable male than receiving an invitation that requests ‘Black Tie’ – take the opportunity to invest in a high quality tuxedo in an exacting fit that will last for years to come – shawl collar models in slim fit styles are very much on trend. If you are buying your first tuxedo, resist the urge to splash out on the velvet tux and opt for a virgin wool model with a small amount of elastin for stretch and comfort.
Black is of course the quintessential choice however a midnight blue is particularly versatile and you’ll be surprised how many outfits can be created with this color for other occasions. Finally, don’t dumb it down with a necktie, choose a brilliant white shirt with a semi-spread collar, complete with a bow-tie in the same fabric as the lapel, choose a shiny patent leather shoe and tuck that invitation into your jacket pocket with confidence.”
– Matthew Keighran, Managing Director, HUGO BOSS Australia
Have you ever attended a black-tie event before? What did you wear and what were other people wearing? Please feel free to drop your comments and contributions in the comment section below.
For general inquiries, brand promotions and collaborations regarding MR KOACHMAN, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find us on different social media handles, see handles below. Feel free to join/follow us on any of the channels you frequently use as we continuously inspire you on how to dress well and live well.
Thank you so much for stopping by. Till you hear from me again, Continue to Do Well. Live Well and Dress Really Well. Be Stylish.
Yours in Style,
Kobi O. Mbagwu (Mr. Kobi)
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