It’s understandable if black tie attire for men seems stuffy and dated (because it can be). Spend five minutes checking out our modern black tie attire rec’s, and we’ll change your mind.
The black tie dress code is one of the few that has a strict set of rules. The test? Following black tie dress code etiquette. Lucky for you, we have your black tie attire cheat sheet right here. Need to understand the in’s and out’s of the black tie attire dress code for wedding ceremonies and receptions? We got you. Need simple outfit ideas that follow the black tie dress code for men? Keep scrolling, friend.
For more information on dress codes, check out our full guide here.
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Black Tie Attire Definition
As one of the most formal dress codes, there’s actually a wrong way to do black tie attire. That may sound rigid and annoying in today’s self-expression fashion extravaganza, but the whole idea of black tie attire is that everyone’s on equal footing. You don’t have to worry about being over- or underdressed, because you know exactly what to wear: a black tuxedo, a black bow tie, white shirt (wing tip or fold-down collar—more on that later), and black shoes—usually patent leather. The whole ensemble should be black and white, more or less.
If it’s really that simple, what’s to know?
There are ways to make black tie more personalized. One of the most obvious is making sure your tuxedo has a modern fit, and that it actually fits you. It’s also important to consider lapel shapes and accessories—just because you’re working with a limited color palette doesn’t mean you can’t make your fit unique.
Men’s Black Tie Attire for Weddings
You can bet that any wedding with a black tie attire dress code request is going to be fancy, ya’ll—it’d be weird to tell your guests to wear a tux to a rustic hoedown, though not impossible. Still, a wedding isn’t the occasion to fudge the black tie rules.
Peak lapel tuxedos are probably the most formal version of the black tux, but this one’s tailored cut gives it a fresh feel—a great choice for any black tie wedding.
If you’re aiming for a more modern black tie attire look, try a black shawl lapel tuxedo. This tuxedo’s rounded lapel isn’t quite as traditional as the peak lapel, but it’s still formal enough for a black tie wedding.
A traditional wing tip shirt is this dress code at a 10. A simple white cotton dress shirt will get the job done, and like a wing tip shirt, you can always accessorize with button studs and cufflinks—more on those later—to up your tux shirt game. Or, for a modern mashup of the other two styles, try this pleated front, fold-down collared shirt. Think the french cuffs will draw glances? Oui.
No two solid black bow ties are really the same, but there are alternatives to the classic black butterfly bow tie. The diamond point style, or just a wider-than-usual butterfly bow tie are both solid options. (Pun-stoppable wordplay, people.)
The pocket square’s greatest weapon is contrast, and a clean white linen square will pop against your black tuxedo jacket. Honestly, white pocket squares work as well as anything—pattern, color, anything. So it’s not really a stylistic sacrifice to stick to the dress code here.
Forrest Gump would say patent leather and black tuxedos go together like peas and carrots. Good for him. I say they just look damn good, no analogy required. Yeah, Forrest can take his analogies and stuff them in his giant home.
But if you’re a shoe guy and you can’t stick to the basics, no matter whose wedding this is, try a cap toe shoe with contrasting patent and calfskin panels like these.
CUFFLINKS & BUTTON STUDS
Guys like to overdo their cufflinks. They get like, I don’t know, Hulk or something and wear Hulk to a black tie wedding. Wouldn’t Bruce Banner cufflinks make more sense? Do you see why we’re recommending subtlety?
If you also wear button studs, which fill in for the buttons on the front of some tuxedo shirts, just make sure the metals match. It’s hard to mess this up.
WAIST COVERING (OPTIONAL)
The waist covering is completely optional, and in the case of the cummerbund, super traditional. Lately, we’ve seen some very fashionable guys wearing these on the red carpet, but they’re more at home at a high-fashion event like the Met Gala than at your cousin’s black tie attire wedding. Tricky garment, but when they’re right, they’re all kinds of right.
The vest is a more modern choice, but you should still keep it traditional if you decide to wear a vest with a men’s black tie attire outfit. How? Go for a low cut vest—it won’t show when you button up, and lets that white dress shirt shine.
Black Tie Attire for Special Events
Apparently you’re living that life—the one where you’re invited to a black tie event that isn’t a wedding. How nice for you. We’re definitely not jealous. (We’re jealous.)
These kinds of events probably don’t come along often (unless you run in some swanky circles), so make the most of it and do it right. If you get the feeling this is a more traditional (or conservative) event, stick with traditional black tie attire: black and white everything, with minimal latitude for patterns on your accessories. In fact, every option we listed above would work just as well as men’s black tie attire for weddings as it would for a special event.
On the other hand, if this seems like a trendier or more celebratory event, you’re clear to do a little more to stand out.
Notch lapels are the most casual black tuxedo style—as you can see, the lapels are shaped like most suit lapels, and this one has a two button closure while most peak lapel and shawl collar tuxedos have one button. But this is still a black tux, so it’s still a smart choice for a modern black tie dress code.
Your eyes are working fine—that is a blue tuxedo (midnight blue, to be specific). While you often see these worn by celebs at awards shows, the style was actually designed as a sub for black tuxedos a long, long time ago, in a haberdashery far, far way. And it’s still a perfectly worthy, alternative, and follows black tie dress code etiquette.
If you don’t wear french cuffs for a black tie dress code, when the hell will you? Two of our rec’s below (the wing tip and fold-down styles with concealed button plackets) feature the folded cuffs, but there’s still nothing wrong with old reliable—the cotton dress shirt.
A subtle pin dot pattern is just one example of how you can live in the black and white palette and make it interesting. You can still add variety with shape, and a straight (also called batwing) bow tie is a modern take on the butterfly shape. Or in cooler weather, try a chunkier fabric like velvet to add texture to your look.
Okay, NOW we’re having fun (said nobody ever about pocket squares, but you get the idea). This pin dot pocket square is elegant, it’s interesting, and it’s definitely black tie attire. Just don’t match it with the pin dot bow tie (too matchy). The idea here is that the predominantly black pocket square won’t stand out in a loud (or bad) way, which is why this funky leopard printed square is also fair game. (No pun there as hunting leopards is messed up, my dude.)
A wood sole on patent leather is a high-low move, so it’s interesting. The wood grain adds just a Whisper of Ruggedness™ to your otherwise perfect outfit. Voted most likely to bust a move? Try these patent and grosgrain loafers.
WAIST COVERING (OPTIONAL)
We wouldn’t pair a cummerbund with the notch lapel tux above, but you can pull the same low cut vest move with a midnight blue tuxedo that you could with the shawl collar or peak lapel tuxedos. Just make sure you match the tux with a midnight blue vest.
Men’s Black Tie Attire for Normals
Time was when guys just wore tuxedos all the time—they were called dinner jackets then, and personally, I have dinner like… every single day. Meanwhile, I do not wear a tuxedo every day. We obviously live in more casual times, and unless you’re a celebrity or dignitary (or crazy rich), you probably don’t have a tux you can just pull out and throw on every time an important event comes up—you probably aren’t getting that many black tie attire wedding invites, or party invites.
But when you do get one of those invitations, you want to do it right. You want the tux to fit you well, for it to be a modern, fashionable style, and maybe—possibly—you want to stand out and snag a few compliments. That has typically been a… difficult combo to find in a tux rental, and renting is really the best (sometimes only) option for so many of us.
That’s why we changed it.
Because wearing a tux should be something you look forward to, something to celebrate. These are important days, and we want to help you step up. That’s why we make high quality tuxedos with a better fit, and deliver them to you for your biggest events.
Ready to arrive in a better tux? Get started here.