Black tie event
Greetings, gents. I realize this may be a silly question but I'm just beginning to get into the world of mens fashion and I just recently found this awesome website. I recently got invited to a wedding and the invitation says it's a "black tie" event. My question is, what sould someone wear to a black-tie wedding? Are there specific guidelines or rules that you must follow when attending one of these events in order to not be rude to the hosts? Do I have to stick to the typical black and white penguin tuxedo or can I switch it up a bit without being looked at as the black sheep of the party? Basically, I would like my outfit to stand out at this wedding but I don't want to be rude to the host either by wearing something that's too colorful, or too "outside of the box".
Any tips, outfit suggestions or even image examples will be greatly appreciated.
Firstly, can I point you in the direction of The Black Tie Guide. It is an entirely free internet resource giving you more information about dinner jackets, tuxedos and evening wear than most of us will probably ever need. Check out the sections on Black Tie weddings (obviously) under the supplemental section and have a read through both the Classic and Contemporary Black Tie sections. It discusses tasteful twists and alternatives for black tie.
Secondly, here are my personal tips for making a black tie outfit look good in no great order:
- tradition pays dividends: black and white, utterly traditional looks have survived because they are guaranteed to make you look great. The single most important thing you can do is get a good suit that fits well. Make sure your shirt is sparkling white and your bow tie shiny black.
- Midnight blue: the traditional alternative to black. Daniel Craig wore it as Bond in Skyfall and Daniel Day Lewis wore it at the Oscars - it is clearly back with a vengeance. I'd love to have a midnight blue dinner suit - they stand out but are subtle.
- velvet is suave: velvet jackets are really in at the moment. They remind us of old smoking jackets but also look distinctly modern. Plus women like to stroke them. I'd avoid the all velvet suits I saw at some awards ceremonies recently, however - you can have too much of a good thing. Alternatively, how about a velvet bow tie?
- Colour should be discrete: because the basic palate is monochrome, any variations, any additions stand out. I'd suggest just one coloured item in your outfit, maximum. I'd probably plump for a coloured pocket square but a waistcoat could work too. ANy colour should be deep and rich - burgundy reds or plums or dark greens, for example.
- waist coverings are back: The cummerbund and the evening waistcoat both seemed to have utterly died out a few years ago, but they are returning. The reason is simple: when your jacket opens or parts beneath the button they don't leave an ugly patch of eye-catching white but leave the impression of a long elegant silhouette. If you opt for a waistcoat, make sure it is an evening one - they are low buttoning and only cover the waist area. Full waistcoats look very 1990s and cover most of the white shirt, which reduces the contrast that makes the outfit eyecathing.
An alternative might be a white waistcoat - have a look at the illustrated ones at the Black Tie Guide - paired with a starched marcella shirt.
- embrace your inner dandy: Black tie can be all about paired back minimalism. It doesn't have to be. Add some dashing extras - shirt studs, a silk evening scarf (white silk is traditional but you could go for something patterned) or a buttonhole flower. Canes and evening cloaks are probably taking things too far.
I was going to post the Black Tie Guide but Wolf got there first! I'd second all he's said; it's all well and good being innovative with your style, but black tie events are not the time. If you want to stand out, go for a traditional twist (velvet jacket or slippers, evening scarf, midnight blue) or add a plain dark pocket square.
Thanks for the tips, fellas. Excellent help.