Your Guide to Black Tie Dress for Special Occasions

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Your Guide to Black Tie Dress for Special Occasions

Choosing proper black tie dress is important, and the event often dictates it. Generally speaking, black tie dress for men equates to wearing a tuxedo; the elements of black tie dress are a suit, in which the jacket lapels and trouser braid are of silk or other contrasting material, a white dress shirt, a black bow tie or regular tie, an evening waistcoat or cummerbund, and black dress shoes. Black tie is less formal than white tie, but more formal than business dress.



Both single- and double-breasted jackets are considered appropriate black tie dress. Single-breasted jackets prove more common; these jackets may be black or midnight blue in colour and are generally constructed of wool, a polyester blend, or silk. Still, jackets may come ventless or with side or centre vents; the ventless style is considered more formal. Choosing the right jacket features is ultimately a matter of personal preference.



Black tie trousers generally have no turn-ups or belt loops. Look for dress trousers that feature an outer seam decorated with a single braid of silk or a material the matches the lapel facing. These trousers may be flat-fronted or pleated in style.


Waistcoat or Cummerbund

Waistcoats, traditionally used to hold up trousers, come in both V and U shapes; the V shape proves most popular amongst wearers. Still, this black tie dress comes in backless or full backed versions, double- or single-breasted, and with or without lapels. Single-breasted styles typically have one row of four to six buttons, while double-breasted waistcoats feature two rows of four to six buttons. Likewise, wear the cummerbund with its pleats facing up; the material should match that of the bow tie and lapels. It is important to note that waistcoats and cummerbunds are only worn with single-breasted jackets. While the colour of cummerbunds varies, maroon proves common.


Dress Shirt

Dress shirts should be of a white or off-white colour and made from cotton or linen. These shirts should feature double, or French, cuffs. Studs and links, while no dress code exists, are most commonly in silver or gold settings and often feature onyx or mother-of-pearl. Still, shape tends to vary depending on personal taste.



Consider wearing lace-up Oxford shoes with a rounded plain toe. Black leather loafers are also socially satisfactory. However, patent leather shoes prove more formal. No matter the type of footwear chosen, black shoes prove best. For a polished look, consider pairing the shoes with black socks made from fine wool or silk.

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