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Formal Attire for Men: Formal Dress Code Explained

The black tie dress code for men

For most of us, black tie events are rare. So while the chance to experience such a formal function is always exciting, it can also present a challenge. After all, navigating the rules of black tie dress and executing them in style can be daunting for even the most savvy dresser. Luckily, we’re experts in the field and can help you find the perfect outfit for your next formal occasion. Below is our guide to the black tie dress code for men.

RELATED: A guide to men’s dress codes for all occasions

What is the black tie dress code?

A black tie dress code denotes formal evening wear and is the highest standard of dress, besides a white tie event. The most important tip when wearing this outfit is to keep it simple. Classic black tie outfits should be tailored to perfection, which means all the components should brush your frame appropriately. A black tuxedo is one of the most alluring options, given that it can be worn endlessly and won’t date. However, there are many other attire elements to consider when preparing for an event with a black tie dress code, including the style of your tuxedo, shirt, and accessories.

Evening dress

Evening dress for men


Go for sleek, clean lines when trying on potential tuxedo jackets. Keep the look minimalist, making sure your black tie stands the test of time. A well-tailored black tuxedo is the best option for a classic look that doesn’t date and can be worn time and time again. That said, there’s something wonderfully dimensional about a deep midnight blue tuxedo. This color option won’t date and works incredibly well with specific skin tones, adding a subtle twist to classic looks. Alternatively, a velvet dinner jacket is a valid alternative, lending vintage references to black tie attire. When going for a velvet jacket, opt for subtle black trousers to anchor the look. When it comes to lapels, you can choose between visor or shawl styles.

Tuxedo jackets


Peak lapel

More popular, peak lapels are well structured and are incredibly useful for improving shoulder width and overall shape. Simplistic and universally flattering, peak lapel tuxedo blazers work well with different body types and sizes.

Peak lapel

Lapel Shawl

The shawl lapel tuxedo features a smooth plain lapel. Sleek, clean, and minimalist, this tuxedo style will lend a sleeker shape to black tie looks. Keep proportion in mind when trying out this style of tuxedo, making sure your look complements your build and the other components of your attire.

Lapel Shawl


Tuxedo pants should match your jacket, unless you’ve opted for a velvet jacket, which should be paired with basic black trousers. A simple but crucial element is to make sure that your pants are hemmed, and that they are neither too long nor too short. Be sure to tailor your pants as this will elongate your proportions suitable for formal looks. A fitted tuxedo tends to be a flattering fit for most body types, and saves the classic, while looking youthful.

Tuxedo pants


Dress Shirt

As with all black tie components, keep it simple. A classic white turn down collar shirt in a high quality fabric is what you should opt for. Clean, minimalist, timeless. Keep it simple, make sure your dress shirt isn’t convoluted, certifying that it doesn’t distract from the other minimalist elements of the classic black tie outfit.

Dress Shirts


Bow tie

The black tie outfit traditionally calls for a bow tie. Picking one that’s black or matches the face of your tuxedo is standard, but don’t feel too limited by this traditionalist approach. Today there are several ways to diversify your look without breaking all the rules. For an edgy approach, try opting for an oversized bow tie or consider experimenting with different textures, like luxurious velvet.




Although not strictly necessary, a waistcoat can be a great addition to a black tie ensemble. Perfect for injecting interest into an otherwise plain outfit, a waistcoat is a smart and stylish menswear item. For a classic look, choose a traditional black waistcoat. For a slightly more exciting look, choose a style with unique details or in a textured fabric. You could also consider a vest in a dark shade other than black if you really want to mix things up, but don’t go too bold.

Black tie waistcoat


dress shoe

Patent leather dress shoes are suitable for black tie looks. In particular, patent Oxford shoes are a perfect choice. To pull on a pair, keep things classic but very youthful with a slightly narrow, round-toe style. Not only will such a pair ensure you look decent, but it will also look very fashionable.

Black tie shoes



For those unfamiliar, a cumberbund is a piece of fabric that sits at the top of your suit pants and the bottom of your shirt. It is traditionally made from silk or satin and usually worn with a tuxedo or a single-breasted evening suit for a formal appearance. To wear one, simply place it around the lower half of your waist and tie it securely at the back. Also note that if your bow tie is a color other than black, your cumberbund must match.

Black Cumberbund Tie

The final touches

A little diversity can go a long way in finalizing your black tie looks. Opt for satin scarves for a nod to vintage that isn’t too noticeable, and keep the cufflinks simple. As usual, make sure your hair and grooming are perfect. Your signature scent for black tie looks should be something bold, austere and prominent, which will add an extra dimension to a well-tailored tuxedo that is remarkable and worth remembering.

Finishing Touches Pocket Square

black tie wedding attire

If you’re specifically heading for a black tie wedding, a black tuxedo is the most appropriate option. Try to keep the overall look simple by opting for a single-breasted style with a sharp, minimalist appeal. Also remember that a slim fit tends to be the most flattering and will keep your style suitably modern. As for your shirt, choose a smart white dress shirt with a turn-down or wing collar. Then complete your look with a black bow tie and leather dress shoes.

Dress advice

  • Wear a well-tailored tuxedo for a classic and appropriate appearance.
  • Choose a jacket with a peak lapel for a structured look or a shawl lapel for a minimalist style.
  • Complete your tuxedo with a classic white shirt in high quality fabric.
  • For shoes, patent leather dress shoes are the best choice.
  • Be sure to complete your look with a bow tie.
  • If you want to diversify your outfit, consider adding a satin scarf or unique cufflinks.


What is the formal dress code?

A formal dress code refers to the clothes best suited for formal occasions. These can include various occasions including weddings, dinner parties and business functions. When attending an event that stipulates that you must dress in formal attire, you should look neat and presentable, pay close attention to detail, and keep colors muted. Tuxedos are a great option and should be worn with a dress shirt and smart shoes. You should also wear a bow tie, and the standard black is one of the most sophisticated and versatile choices.

What is the difference between a formal tie and a black tie?

A formal dress code usually refers to black tie, requiring men to wear tuxedos, dress shirts, and dress shoes. Complete the look with a bow tie and focus on the fit and details of your chosen garment. The fit should be tailored, complementing your frame and ensuring you look polished. A black tuxedo is a subtle and versatile garment worn by men of different ages that will never date. It is always helpful to read the dress code for the events you will be attending and consider the location.

What is acceptable for evening wear?

Formal wear requires you to dress up, and a suit is a great way to do that. You should pay close attention to the cut, fit, and details of your suits. A fitted tuxedo is a fantastic option and will suit men of all ages and complement different body shapes. Keep your outfit minimalist for a timeless and classic feel; it’s also great because you can wear it for more than one season without it going out of style. Black is one of the most sophisticated and versatile colors, but you can experiment a little, depending on the venue and the event. Other options include white and deep midnight blue. Wear your tuxedo with a dress shirt, smart shoes and a bow tie. To put your stamp on the outfit, you can choose from different lapels.

Can I wear boots to a black tie event?

The simple answer to whether you can wear boots to a black tie event is no. Boots are generally more casual, although you can get a wide variety of sophisticated or edgy styles. Boots should not be worn with tuxedos, and the two styles will eventually clash. A better option for a black tie event would be to wear patent leather shoes, such as oxfords or oxfords.


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