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White Tie vs. Black Tie

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Have you recently been invited to a white tie event, but aren’t sure what that style of dress entails? Don’t make the mistake of simply swapping out the black tie of your tux in favor of a white one. There are many differences between white tie vs. black tie dress codes, and knowing what is involved with each can help you to dress to impress at your next event.

What is a Black Tie Dress Code?

Black tie is a style of dress consisting of semi-formal wear. The dress code derived in British and American culture in the 19th century, and it is typically only worn for social functions and events after 6:00 PM. Black tie is more formal business dress, but less formal than a white tie dress code. When planning your attire for a black tie event, it is important to know what the style of dress entails. Your apparel should include:
  • A black jacket with silk facings on a peaked lapel or shawl collar
  • Trousers with a satin or single silk braid covering the seams
  • A white dress shirt with cufflinks or French cuffs
  • A black satin cummerbund or low-cut waistcoat
  • Black dress socks and shoes, preferably patent leather Oxfords
  • A black silk bow tie that matches your lapel facings
If your date is wondering what she should wear to a black tie event, there are also some standards for women’s fashions. Traditionally, women’s dress involved long or tea length evening gowns accompanied by gloves and a wrap. However, in modern day women’s apparel for black tie occasions includes cocktail or knee length dresses, as well.

What is a White Tie Dress Code?

A white tie event is even more formal than a black tie gathering, although in the U.S., the white tie style of dress is not common. This dress code is usually reserved for evening weddings, formal balls, and state dinners. Like black tie, this style of dress is typically deemed appropriate after 6:00 PM. Black tuxedos are still the norm with a white tie dress code, although jackets typically differ from the black tie variety in that they are horizontally cut away from the front. You’ll also want to include some other items in your ensemble:
  • Trousers held up by suspenders that feature one or two stripes of braid or satin
  • A plain, white, stiff-fronted shirt with wing collar, preferably one that is detachable
  • A white bow tie
  • A white, low-cut waistcoat that matches the shirt and tie
  • Black socks with matching black court shoes
While the dress code for women isn’t as specific as that of men at a white tie event, it is typically acceptable for women to wear a ball gown or another full-length dress. Tea length or cocktail dresses are typically frowned upon, and long gloves or shawls are common accessories. Women who do opt to wear gloves should choose white, opera length gloves that are only taken off while seated for dinner. If you need assistance in planning your formal wear for a black tie or white tie event, contact Fine Tuxedos today.

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