Caught in the ‘what to wear to a black tie wedding’ situation? Wave goodbye to your wardrobe worries with this definitive guide.
Your college BFF is getting married. You saved the date. You’ve just received the invitation. You have posted it on your Stories. Then you took a deep breath, and opened it, feeling the cold sweat dripping down your spine. There’s a black tie dress code. And the question of all questions pops up – what to wear to a black tie wedding?
Wedding season is around the corner. In 2023, they are no longer an afternoon affair or something you can squeeze in between meetings. Post-pandemic, many people have opted for three-day celebrations, actually making their big day a very big weekend.
Of course, whether you are the bride or the guest, the maid of honor, or a third cousin, you need to attend the occasion in style. Especially if the hosts have set the wedding dress code to formal wear.
Before we dive deep into the unknown, let me explain. There’s casual, there’s festive, there’s cocktail. There’s a white tie. The latter is the most formal dress code known to date. It means top hats and pretty much everything you would wear if you are Katy Perry searching for her place at King Charles’ coronation.
There’s also a black tie. AKA the place where elegance meets formality and where you look amazing without going over the top.
You don’t need a wedding website to unravel the mystery. Join me below as I go through the most common DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to the black tie wedding dress code.
Let’s find out what to wear to a black tie wedding:
What is a black tie wedding?
I’ll simply put it like this. Black tie means fancy, glamorous, flawless. It means dressing up like you are about to hit the Oscars red carpet. Build your narrative around that.
Personality is the priority for most modern people. If the bride and groom want you to follow some guidelines, it’s because this lifestyle, it’s not far away from that perspective. Therefore, if it’s a black tie event, you need to take the couple’s wishes into consideration and opt for black tie attire.
In a few words, the guys should put on a black tuxedo or a dark suit while the ladies need to look towards floor-length dresses, evening gowns, and anything else that falls under formal attire.
What does a woman wear to a black tie event?
I know a black-tie affair can sound like a really big deal, but in case you always put comfort first (as you should) and show up at the office once in a blue moon, how many smoking jackets could you own exactly?
While many people see formal occasions as a route to self-expression, the rules are rules, and you don’t need to break them, especially if the happy couple is a part of your inner circle.
There are plenty of options, but the black-tie dress code usually calls for a floor-length gown. In case you are going to a casual wedding, midi dresses, and cocktail attire are a DO. When it comes to a formal event, though, then DON’T opt for cocktail dresses.
Instead, try putting on a long dress in a dark color and finish with a white dinner jacket and patent leather shoes. (Made of vegan leather, if possible). Once the wedding ceremony is over, feel free to wear sweatpants for the next few days.
Can you wear any color to a black tie wedding?
Although women wear a wide variety of styles and options from their vast wardrobes (compared to men), you don’t need it within the black-tie wedding attire game.
Yes, Barbie pink and that very particular green are amazing. However, it’s best to stick to darker hues and jewel tones, especially for fall weddings. Not that the full-length gown with satin facing in bright colors will look bad on you, but it simply won’t fit the tone of the night.
You can go for dark blue with a black dinner jacket. You can even choose something in dark red or purple – that’s fine as well. Please, just don’t make your best friend’s special day this year’s Met Gala.
What NOT to wear to a black tie wedding?
We are slowly getting to the DON’ts. It can be hard to resist the temptation and arrive in a show-stopping outfit, but you don’t want to overshadow the bride. Let’s set this as rule #1 for weddings in general.
Suppose you are invited to a black-tie wedding event, a short dress in midnight blue is not a good choice. That applies to all short dresses, jumpsuits, loungewear, shorts, or too-revealing pieces. Again, not that you won’t look amazing in the almost-naked yellow dress, it’s just that the dress code calls for rich fabric.
Make sure to put your man in a James Bond-inspired classic black tux with satin lapels. Plus, we all know what their definition of a formal shirt could be. Don’t forget the black bow tie!
Black tie wedding guest dresses:
It’s time to put some theory into practice. Here are seven modern takes (read: dance-floor-friendly pieces) on the classic black tie wedding attire that promise to make you the best-dressed wedding guest.
This black dress will help you figure out the whole black tie look thing faster than you can read its name. It’s sassy, classic, feminine, timeless, and something you should definitely add to your cart if you have been working out lately.
Yes, it’s not the classic black tie outfit since we agreed sticking to darker colors is safer, but the fashion world is changing, and if you are a risk-taker, you would pull it off. Just make sure you don’t cross the line with lots of accessories and sparkling makeup.
Katie May’s Surreal Dress is also something you will want to wear for a formal evening event. Who said only the bride should have something blue? I would add a structured blazer in a different color for extra sophistication. Finish the fit with practical ivory pumps.
You are romantic by heart and want to dress up properly? Look no further than the Reformation Andee Dress. I’m sure you will appreciate the halter neckline, the waist fit, and the side slit. It’s not a black suit or a dinner suit, but you can wear it to many other events besides your sister-in-law’s bridal party.
The one-shoulder is a sentiment echoed by many brands. It may not be your glass of prosecco, but you should give it a try. Especially if you want to stand out in the crowd and still not take everyone’s eyes off the most important people. Trust me, the asymmetrical neckline and darted bodice are perfect for any black-tie event or wedding party.
In case the wedding invitation implies black-tie attire and not cocktail hour, the Cayla Side Drape Gown by Norma Kamali is fair game. It’s the best of both worlds – sexy yet classic, glamorous yet elegant. Bonus points: it will also look amazing with your BAE’s tuxedo jacket.
This is a dress for anyone whose natural habitat is right in front of the DJ on the dancefloor. No matter what you think about the voluminous ruffles and curve-enhancing silhouette, they are adding a new layer to formal wedding attire. Yes, you will look like the dancing lady emoji. Yes, that’s cool. Very cool.
The black tie aﬀair could indeed provoke unnecessary fatigue. All you need is a little bit of imagination to adapt the requirement to your personal taste.
Of course, the optional dress code is better, but you have to respect the hosts. Let me give you a good reason to do so. You wouldn’t be happy if you set an all-blue tone and half of the guests arrived in white at your own wedding.
Oh, that’s something I may have forgotten. Don’t choose a white shirt or a white dress shirt, it’s the main difference between you and the bride. Well, unless the bride is Sofia Richie. Then it literally doesn’t matter. What are you wearing to your next black-tie wedding? Let me know on socials @SavinaOfficial and we can rate your style.
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