The Right Attire for Black-Tie Holiday Events

By on December 15, 2012
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When the holidays roll around, people often find themselves attending “black-tie” events both for work and socially. Unfortunately, many men have little to no idea what a black-tie dress code entails. Before you throw on your best suit and head to one of these gatherings; learn the basics of the black-tie.

Classic Black Tie

Traditionally, the term “black-tie” is characterized by the wearing of so-called semiformal evening clothes. For men, this usually means a tuxedo and black tie; however, the keyword in this case is “usually.”

Indeed, it’s most common for men to don a tuxedo for most black-tie events, but that’s not all. Ordinarily, a man’s black-tie getup should consist of the following:

Key Elements

Contrary to “white-tie,” which demands strict adherence to dress code, black-tie allows for a bit more variation. That said, the traditional components include:

  • A jacket with grosgrain or satin facings on a shawl collar with a peaked or notched lapel.
  • Trousers that have a single satin or silk braid covering the outside seams.
  • A low-cut waistcoat or black cummerbund.
  • A white dress shirt, a winged or turndown collar, cufflinks and French cuffs.
  • A black bow tie that matches the lapel facings.
  • Black dress socks and shoes.

Breaking with Tradition

Although some do specifically mandate the wearing of a tuxedo, most modern black-tie events don’t necessarily require traditional garb. Many a professional opts to wear an attractive, traditional suit in lieu of an uncomfortable tuxedo. According to Los Angeles dentist Dr. Mark Weiser, tuxedos just don’t feel appropriate for social occasions which are meant to be fun.

“I don’t actually own a tuxedo. I will rent one if I have to, but I prefer a nice coat and tie,” he said.

An Alternate Route

Although a suit can work well in place of a tuxedo; beware. You shouldn’t stumble into a black-tie office party wearing the same suit you wear to the office. The suit must be black and offset with black-tie-friendly pieces, such as a slim, satin black tie, accompanied by a silver tie bar. You should also have black lace-ups, silver cuff links, a white pocket square and other accessories that spruce up your attire.

That said, it can be fun to add a subtle, personal stamp to your outfit. Just make sure it’s not too flashy and in keeping with the tone of the evening.

This is a guest post.  Ryan Lawrence writes for Off-Topic Media. Image by Daniel Case. Thanks to Dr. Mark Weiser for contributing to this story. Dr. Weiser can be reached at his office in Los Angeles. Image License: Creative Commons image source.

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