Black ties are a big turn off for casual gatherings and business meetings. They are in fact reserved for formal occasions like evening parties, weddings, elite dinners and balls. Such events usually require men to be dressed in a tuxedo along with a black tie while the women put on their best evening gowns. The following discussion is a concise guide on men’s black tie attire and maximum effort has been put in to acknowledge you with the latest trends in fashion.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT ATTIRE
It is an established fact that women are super conscious about their dressing. From their dress and jewelry to their makeup and shoes, everything has to be perfectly coordinated and well thought out. Well, gentlemen of the modern times fall no behind either. They’re no more interested in just the perfect clothing but want to complement it with the best accessories. For this exact purpose, we’ve discussed each component of an attire in detail so you can find all the options to wear with a black tie in one place. No more trouble of browsing through the various fashion magazines. The classic black tie dress code consists of a black tuxedo, white dress shirt, a black bow tie and black shoes. These components are the gold standard of a black tie ensemble. You may add a variety of accessories to accentuate the look but that part is enumerated later. Let’s start with the significant components first.

TUXEDOS
It’s always good to adhere to the classic dress code for a black tie which includes a tuxedo in solid black color. A traditional tuxedo is single breasted with a peaked satin-faced lapel and mostly has a single button on front. It is made of grosgrain fabric and does not have vents at the back. This is the standard choice of tuxedo for any formal gathering but a little variation is surely acceptable which will be discussed as follows.

ACCEPTABLE COLORS
Black is the standard color of tuxedo for black tie functions but other alternatives include dark midnight blue tuxedos and white dinner jackets. Black and blue color are suitable for evening wear whereas white is the color of choice for daytime black tie functions. White color is incorporated into the attire to break down the effect of warm weather during the daytime and thus this dress code is also referred to as ‘warm weather black tie’.

CUTS and STYLES
Single breasted tuxedo is the most versatile cut that exists today. It is more traditional and has a classy aura to it. However, double breasted jackets are also available and are a stylish alternative. They were first worn in the early nineteenth century. One important difference between the two is that a single breasted tuxedo is typically worn unbuttoned while a double breasted jacket is buttoned down. This is why waistcoat and other cummerbund accessories cannot be worn with a double breasted tux. Double breasted cut is an amazing option to opt for if you want to deviate from the boring, ordinary styles. However, a mental note should be made that they are slightly uncomfortable when sitting down. When talking about styles, peaked lapel is the commonest style that is considered both traditional and classic. A lapel is the folded front edge of the jacket having a shiny silk facing that matches the facing on the jacket’s buttons. Shawl lapel is an alternative style that imparts an equally formal look but is not that common. Notch lapels have also gained momentum during the modern times but they aren’t as formal as the former ones.

FABRICS
Most tuxedos are made up of grosgrain fabric which has a fine diagonal ribbed texture. You may opt for other fabrics too depending on your budget and the quality that you desire. The most extravagant tuxedos are made out of silk while the cheapest ones are made up of man-made polyester. This difference in fabrics is responsible for the difference in their price range. Fine worsted wool is another common alternative. Its’ best to choose a natural fiber like wool rather than a synthetic one because the former is more comfortable, easy to manage and low maintenance. When opting for wool, check the fiber number on the label. The greater the number, the finer is the fabric. This number defines the magnitude of exclusiveness and shine of the fabric.

RENT VS. BUY
If you don’t want to invest a huge sum on a tuxedo, it’s better to rent one for your black tie function. These events happen once in a blue moon so it’s only wise to go with a rental. A complete black tie outfit would not cost you more than $120, even in the peak seasons of prom and wedding. The only trick is to arrange a rental beforehand so you have ample time for fitting and tailoring. Buying a tuxedo is a good choice for those whose body physique doesn’t fluctuate too much. Besides, if you’re too social, you might need one for your personal use for you’re likely to attend many black tie events in a lifetime. You don’t have to worry about the changing trends because black tie outfit is something that doesn’t fluctuate with fashion. A few things to consider when buying a tuxedo is the quality of the fabric, design, lapel style and customized tailoring so it matches your fit.

TROUSERS
A black tie event would require classic tuxedo pants which are black in color and made up of the same fabric as the jacket. You may opt for both pleated and straight cut trousers according to your personal preference and comfort. The outer seams are hidden in a traditional tux trouser and are covered by a silk band that matches with the lapels of the jacket. Belts are usually not worn with tuxedos so there is no belt loop in these trousers. The trousers can be tightened using suspenders or adjustable side tabs. A waistcoat or cummerbund is used to cover the waistband of the pants.

DRESS SHIRT
Classically, a bright white dress shirt with a pleated front is worn with black tuxedos to a black tie event. The shirt usually has a turn-down spread collar and is French cuffed. Though many other options exist as we will be discussing below, this is by far the most popular and versatile option which imparts the best look.

COLLAR STYLES
As already mentioned, turn-down spread collar is the commonest style worn these days. Wide spread collars are the best choice because they hide behind the lapels of the jacket, creating an aura of elegance and simplicity. However, wing-tip collars are gaining popularity for they seem to be more formal than the former collar style. This style is mostly reserved for highly formal events where white tie dress code is mandatory. However, it is also making its way into the black tie dress code because of its sophistication. Finally, we’ve got the mandarin collar shirts, also known as the collarless shirts. The thing to note here is that a mandarin collar is a fail when worn with tuxedos and should only be opted for if you’re wearing an oriental jacket.

THE PLEATS DILEMMA

The classic dress code includes a pleated shirt where the pleats are spaced half an inch apart. A dress shirt with a plain front is also acceptable because of its simplistic style and formal nature. Whatever style you opt for, black tie dress shirts never have a breast pocket. More simply put, a breast pocket is an ultimate contraindication for a black tie event.

WAIST COVERINGS
A classical black tie attire makes use of either a waistcoat or a cummerbund for covering the waist. Their color should always match with that of the jacket or tuxedo i.e. solid black. According to a fashion aficionado, waistcoat is the acceptable waist covering when wearing a jacket with a peaked lapel while a cummerbund harmonizes with the shawl collar jacket. However, there is no hard and fast rule and you may opt for either option according to your desire.

WAISTCOAT
The black tie waistcoat should be made up of shiny sateen silk to match the lapels of the jacket. Those with a low cut have a formal look as they do not hide the decorative pleats of the dress shirt. Both single breasted and double breasted waistcoats are acceptable for a black tie ensemble, however open back waistcoat should be opted for in warm weather. A single breasted waistcoat has three buttons while the latter has four, all of them faced in sateen silk in order to match the jacket’s lapels. Every waistcoat has two welt pockets at the lower front which are intended to hold a pocket watch probably.

CUMMERBUND
A cummerbund is a decorative sash that has its roots in India. It was first worn during the times of British colonialism and soon became famous as an icon of style and elegance. During the early nineteenth century, a cummerbund was incorporated as an essential element of black tie attire. Traditionally, it is black in color and is made up of grosgrain or shiny sateen silk. The pleats are facing upward and many fashion experts consider cummerbund an aesthetic accessory which looks best with shawl collar jackets.

BLACK TIE NECKWEAR
The classical neckwear for a black tie function is a solid black bow tie that is self-tied. The fabric of the bow tie should be in coordination with that of the jacket’s lapels. For instance, finely ribbed or pique fabric bow ties are worn with grosgrain faced lapels while sateen silk bow ties are paired with sateen lapels. The traditional bow tie is also referred to as ‘butterfly bow tie’ and has a spread of two and a half inches. Batwing bow ties are also an acceptable alternative. They are narrow bow ties with a maximum spread of one and a half inches. We also have bow ties with pointed tips that impart a unique look to the overall dressing. You may buy a pre-tied bow tie or a self-tied one. Pre-tied bow ties are acceptable for prom dinners but are considered a black tie Faux Pas once you’ve passed the phase of high school. A gentleman’s approach would be to buy a self-tied bow tie that is available in both fixed length and acceptable length. The fixed length bow ties are superior because the bow will automatically adjust with the proportions of your face and neck. Also, they don’t have an adjustment clasp which enhances the formal look of your neckwear. You can easily learn how to tie a bow tie by navigating through the other articles on this website.

FOOTWEAR
The black tie shoes are always black in color, thus matching the jacket and the trousers. They’re slim, light weight and minimally decorative. It won’t be an exaggeration to call them conservative. You may opt for either a formal pump which is made from high gloss patent leather or the formal lace-up which is made from polished calf skin.

ACCESSORIES
Accessories act as a cherry on the cake and boost up the liveliness of any attire. It reflects style and grace and a little thought into choosing the right ones can enhance your personality several folds.

OPERA SCARF
An opera scarf is a common element of an evening attire that is made up of fine silk or cashmere. It is usually white in color and has tassels which are about five inches long. An opera scarf is always worn loosely around the neck and is never tied. Men prefer wearing an opera scarf so they can offer it to their date in order to make them stay warm. Thus they have evolved as a gesture of care and etiquettes.

CUFFLINKS and STUDS
They are a must-have accessory for a black tie event. The cufflinks are made up of gold, silver, onyx, platinum or mother of pearl. They should carefully be matched with the decorative shirt button studs and the metal color should be in coordination with the color of the pocket or wrist watch.

POCKET SQUARES
A white pocket square is an optional accessory that you may add to your black tie ensemble. The type of fold you choose is your personal preference however the best ones have hand-rolled edges. Pocket squares may be made up of fine linen, cotton pique or silk.

DRESS WATCH
Some fashion aficionados are of the view that a wrist watch does not coordinate well with a black tie outfit. They argue that a black tie event is a celebratory occasion and clock watching can ruin its aura.Thus it is suggested that you use a pocket watch instead whose color matches with that of the cufflinks and button studs. On the off chance that you’re too adamant to wear a wrist watch, make sure that its design is simple, sleek and unembellished. A black leather band with a thin body may be the perfect choice in this setting.

THE FINAL WORD ON THE MATTER
Once you’re accustomed to the basics of a black tie attire, it won’t be a challenge to go for shopping anymore. The key lies in coordinating every element of your ensemble to impart the perfect look.