If you’ve received an invitation to your first black tie event, you’re probably filled with a mixture of excitement about the occasion and worry about what you’ll wear. What should you wear to a black tie event, and what does black tie even mean? 

A formal dress code can be challenging to get right, but don’t panic – we are here to help. The world-class tailors at Phillip Alexander have put together this guide with what you should and shouldn’t wear to a black-tie event to ease your fears. This blog will include:

  • how to dress the part for your black tie event 
  • black tie dress codes
  • what not to wear to a black tie event
  • suitable black tie wedding attire and what to avoid


How to dress the part for your black tie event

Black tie is one of the most formal dress codes. The only step above black tie is white tie. Check out our blog, ‘What is the difference between white tie and black tie?’, to learn more. 

A type of formal evening wear, black tie is a popular dress code for formal dinners, parties, balls, and weddings, which start after 5 pm (or start earlier but continue late into the night). Black tie for men should consist of a dark dinner jacket (ideally black) and matching trousers. 

Dinner jackets are also called tuxedos, especially in America, and they’re famous for their unique shawl lapels and satin elements. Tuxedo trousers typically have satin detailing to match the jacket. A dinner jacket should be paired with a black bow tie (hence the name of the dress code) and a white dress shirt for a formal, elegant look. Black socks and black patent leather shoes complete the ensemble.


Black tie dress codes

Your invitation might simply state ‘black tie’, but there are also a couple of other dress codes you might see.


Black tie optional

If you’ve been invited to a black tie optional event, you have the freedom to choose between a dinner jacket or a formal dark suit. Although wearing a dinner jacket is still preferable so you can show off your sense of formal style, it’s not mandatory. A formal black, navy or other dark-coloured suit paired with a dress shirt and plain-coloured tie will work just as well, especially if you don’t own a tuxedo and aren’t in a position to purchase one.   


Creative black tie

Unlike black tie optional, a dinner jacket is mandatory with this dress code. However, you can be a lot more creative with your styling and colour choices than with the standard black tie dress code. Traditionally, black is the most appropriate colour for a dinner jacket, but creative black tie allows you to stray from tradition. You could opt for a more colourful tuxedo jacket, such as maroon, dark green or white, or stick with a black jacket paired with a patterned bow tie or bright vest to add a pop of colour to your outfit. 


What not to wear to a black tie event

So, hopefully, now you’re clear on what you should wear to a black tie event, but what attire should you avoid? 

You should avoid casual clothing or sportswear at all costs, and unless it’s black tie optional, you should always wear a formal dinner jacket instead of a standard suit. 

You’ll also want to avoid wearing bright or flashy colours and stick to simple and classic combinations. Black is the most traditional option, but you can also opt for white, navy, dark green or burgundy dinner jackets, especially if the invite specifies creative black tie. 


What to wear to a black tie wedding

Receiving a black tie wedding invitation signals you’ll be attending a highly elegant and formal event that demands you dress your absolute best. Male black tie wedding guests should wear a suitable dinner jacket and matching trousers. 

If this is your first time attending a formal black-tie event, you might need to purchase a dinner suit or hire one for the occasion. Whether you’re wearing a dinner jacket you already own, purchasing one or hiring, you should ensure that it’s well-tailored and fits you perfectly to ensure a distinguished and formal look. 


What not to wear to a black tie wedding

When it comes to choosing your dinner jacket, black is always a classic option and is the perfect choice for weddings. The last thing you want is to draw attention to yourself in a brightly coloured tuxedo and risk upstaging the groom. Alternatively, dark blue or navy dinner jackets can help you stand out from the other guests without detracting from the wedding party or man of honour.


Whatever black tie outfit you wear, you should opt for a tailored garment to ensure a precise and flattering fit. The master tailors at Phillip Alexander are here to help.


How Phillip Alexander can help

The best way to ensure you look the part at a black tie event is to invest in a tailored dinner suit crafted by an experienced tailor. A professional tailor will be able to offer styling advice and guidance to ensure you look your very best!

At Phillip Alexander, we’re experts at dressing gentlemen – we’ve been doing it for over 150 years. With locations in Cheshire and Savile Row in London, we specialise in creating dinner jackets for black-tie events that look stunning and fit perfectly. We offer various tailoring services, including bespoke suits, semi-bespoke ‘made to measure’ suits, and tailored suit hire

Bespoke dinner jackets

If you’re attending a once-in-a-lifetime black tie event or have chosen a black tie dress code for your wedding, you should have a suit that reflects the importance of the occasion. Our bespoke suit service is an unparalleled experience, resulting in a gorgeous, perfectly fitting dinner suit handcrafted to your specifications. It involves multiple consultations and fittings with our world-class tailors to ensure the perfect look and fit on the big day. 


Made-to-measure dinner jackets 

Our made-to-measure dinner suits are perfect if you have an upcoming black tie event and need to look the part. They’re made using a combination of handcraft and machine work to produce a quality, well-fitting suit in a shorter timeframe and at a lower price than our bespoke service. 


Luxury tailored dinner jacket hire

We understand that not everyone is in a position to purchase a dinner jacket of their own, especially if you rarely get the opportunity to attend black tie events. This is why we created our luxury tailored suit hire service.

Our hire service includes several fittings to guarantee the best fit possible for your events. Plus, you’ll receive invaluable styling advice and guidance from our world-class tailors to help you look your absolute best. 

If you want to know more about our range of services or are interested in buying or hiring one of our tailored dinner suits, contact us today to request an appointment.