Black tie dress code for men explained

In the hierarchy of coded evening wear, informal or business dress give way to black tie as the code that is only slightly less formal then the white tie one. A black tie dress code is thus semi-formal, ideal for evening events and social functions that would require a tuxedo but will not leave out those who cannot afford one.

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Rigorously worn after 6 pm, black tie dress code is ultimately the standard for formal attire: it is not at all about standing out or making a fashion statement, rather the opposite. Indeed, Black Tie Required or Black Tie Only on an invitation means without doubt that the host is expecting his guests to be respectful of traditions and comply to the general uniformity and elegance, according to specific set rules.

When choosing your outfit, remember that you will only wear it few times, but if you invest in quality it will last a lifetime. In terms of fabric, best materials are the very elegant Grosgrain silk (more considered than satin), and a little more audacious but perfectly acceptable velvet, while traditional choice for colder climate is mohair wool. Also, details are what matters the most: for instance the lapels' material should be matching the braiding on the trouser and the button fabric.

For a quick check list:

Jackets can be single- or double-breasted, simply choose what suits you best – just remember: single-breasted dinner jackets are never to be fastened. Black or midnight blue, with peaked or shawl lapels. Avoid white dinner jackets unless you are in tropical climate or on a yacht.

Trousers normally slightly tapered, one braid on the outside, made in a material matching the jacket. If you are wearing a velvet jacket, avoid velvet trousers and match the lapels' material instead. Use black braces instead of a belt.

Wear a white shirt, with a turned down collar, as the wing collar peculiar of white tie dress code. For the tie, choose a material that again perfectly matches those of the jacket and trousers.

If you are wearing a single breasted jacket, you can wear a low-cut waistcoat. Otherwise, choose cummerbunds and remember the folds should point upwards.

Black patent leather shoes are best, but all smart looking, well-polished black shoes will do. Black silk evening socks, alternatively wool or cotton, rigorously black.

Find out more about how to look smart every day in our short fashion guide on easy suits colour combinations.

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