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A person dressed formally in a suit

How to Dress up for a Black Tie Event

Men dressed for black tie events radiate confidence and sophistication. Now, you are probably reading this article to figure out the black tie dress code. Don’t worry! It is not that complex, and we are here to help you.

Whether you are off to a wedding or an award ceremony, your host is likely to suggest formal wear to attend. In order to respect your hosts, you should follow the dress code suggested when attending the event.

You may be surprised to know that menswear that we call formal suits for men today was brought into existence because King Edward VII wanted something more comfortable and less formal than a tailcoat to dine in. How ironic is that?!  

Today, when a man adorns himself for a black tie event, he stands a class apart and is considered the epitome of elegance and finesse.

Imagine being held in such high regard solely for how you dress! Now that is something every man should be well aware of.

Without further ado, let’s move on to teach you how you can dress up for a black tie event.   

1.   The Rules You Shouldn’t Forget

Back tie events have a strict dress code unless stated otherwise on the invitation. Hence, there are certain things you must avoid when following the black tie dress code.

  1. It is essential to understand what black tie means. A regular black suit does not qualify as formal wear.
  2. You must know that casual wear is a big no with a capital N. Making an appearance in your polo and tennis shoes will only make you look ignorant and obnoxious. Also, that’s not the kind of “turning heads” you are looking for at an event like this.
  3. Dinner jackets are the focal point of the dress code. Hence, the blazers do not qualify.
  4. Make sure to have a suit fitting a few days before the event because a black tie dress code requires you to be in a well-tailored suit with a balance of the right cuts and shapes.
  5. Belts have no place with a dinner suit. Formal suits for men are paired with formal braces secured with brace buttons.
  6. Clean up well. Trim your nail, keep your hair away from the face and use some aftershave and cologne to leave a sensual trail. A black tie event requires you to carry a sleek and polished look which is only put together when you consider every little detail.

8.   Dare to Ditch Black

Contrary to popular belief, black is not the only colour men can wear at a black tie event. In fact, King Edward VII thought that navy blue looked blacker than actual black on evenings. Who are we to not listen to the man who invented the look in the first place?

A classy Navy Three Piece Dinner Suit will make you look dapper and chic at the event. You can pair it with a bow tie if the code is strict or a silk necktie if the dress code allows for a slight bending.

Remember, navy, black, and some dark tones of grey are your only choices when it comes to black tie events. Hence, do not try to be creative unless the dress code calls explicitly for it.

In that case, you can experiment with shades while standing by the rules of formal wear. 

9.   Remember the Elements

In order to put together a formal suit for men that abides by the black tie dress code, you need the following elements:

  • A dinner suit
  • A waistcoat
  • A white shirt
  • Polished formal shoes
  • A Pair of Black Socks
  • Cuff links

Dinner Suit

A dinner suit calls for a dinner jacket and trousers of the same fabric. An Oliver Black Dinner Suit Jacket with a deep V lapel is an elegant and classic look that will elevate your persona at the event. Pair it with the Oliver Black Dinner Suit Trouser to add to that sharp look and make heads turn.

An earlier suit fitting will ensure that the trousers fit well and there is no bulging or clinging in any parts.

A Formal White Shirt

A crisp white formal shirt is the perfect base for your formal dinner suit. Typically a dress shirt with pleats and a winged collar breaks the otherwise dark attire and gives it some panache. Frankly speaking, a monochromatic look would be incomplete with some white space, especially with a cummerbund.

A Cummerbund or a Waistcoat

Well-tailored formal wear makes the man adorned in it look like the dapper and flamboyant man that he is. A certain look is required to achieve this. The entire formal suit for men is designed to be an outfit that flatters their physique and makes them appear stylish and sophisticated.

Hiding the waist with a cummerbund or a waistcoat is of the essence to achieve this look. You can pick either of the two. However, a cummerbund shows you are well aware of formal wear etiquette and have a strong fashion sense, which of course, is a good look on any man.

On the other hand, a waistcoat fulfils the same purpose and makes the entire look polished. You can pair your dinner jacket and trouser with an Oliver Black Dinner Suit Waistcoat to complete the formal outfit. 

Formal Shoes

They say you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes. Keep this thought in mind when choosing formal shoes to go with the outfit. You need to take a step above regular office shoes and go for a classic traditional look.

Ensure that your shoes are polished and choose a material that does not make them look dusty. There is nothing more off-putting than a man with dirty shoes. So, polish until you see your face smiling back in it.

Furthermore, remember to pair it with evening socks. Classic black calf-length socks will make the cut. Also, they are a mandatory part of your formal attire. In order to avoid appearing superficial, we recommend not ignoring this rule. 


It is the details that make the formal wear complete. These details bring attention to the look and elevate the charm it carries. Following are some accessories that will add some flair to your outfit:

Cuff Links:  Your dress shirt has space to add cuff links which is a requirement for formal wear. To achieve the timeless classic look, choose something simple. Extravagant cuff links are not the right place for black tie events.

A Watch: There is just something about a man with a watch in his hand. Of course, we all have our cell phones, and nobody is going around asking for the time these days. However, a watch is a detail that brings sophistication to the look. Additionally, it builds up the personality of the person wearing it. So, don’t think too much and strap it on. Remember, make sure it is not a casual watch.

Pocket Square: A pocket square is not mandatory, and you can choose to skip it. However, if you do wish to wear one, do not go for something too fancy. A solid colour that matches the attire will do the trick.

10. The Final Touch: The Bow Tie 

Now, the bow tie is the piece de resistance in a black tie dress code. Without it, you lack the charm and poise that a formal look for such an event requires.

Remember, do not make a faux pas by wearing a white bow tie or a clip-on. It only takes a few minutes to learn how to tie a bow tie, so take some time out before the event to learn this gentlemanly skill. You can clearly see a difference between a pre-tied bow tie and a hand-tied one. 

You can choose different between different tying techniques. The butterfly is the classic go-to look. However, you can choose the style that looks best with the formal wear you have chosen for the evening.


Getting invited to a classy black tie event can be pretty exciting. Dressing up to your nines and interacting with the crème de la crème will make the evening worth the effort.

Remember, follow the classics, enhance the look with details, keep it simple, remember all the elements and finish the entire look with a charming bow tie. You may think that all these rules for the black tie dress code are exhausting to follow, but going to a good boutique will help you in this regard.

Additionally, if you doubt your formal wear, just stick to the classics and you will have no trouble.

If you have black tie events coming up and you wish to dress in the best quality fabrics and designs, check out the variety of formal suits for men at Harry Brown London.

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