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What does Black Tie mean? – LifeSavvy



  Pair in black tie, optional evening wear
Dean Drobot / Shutterstock

In the world of dress codes, the term "formal" has changed several times over the decades. This is what the term means.

Formal once implied "as chic as it gets," suggesting a white or black tie. If somebody expects white or black tie attire today, he usually states it. If the dress code is only formal, it usually means "black tie optional".

"Black tie optional" and "formal" are two common, almost interchangeable dress codes for fancy events. Although they are a bit more relaxed than white and black ties, you should make sure that you do not accidentally appear underwrapped.

Black Tie Optional: A Definition

The word "optional" means "yes", you can wear black ties ̵

1; but you do not have to, if you do not want or have any.

Since people today do not usually have many really formal dresses, this dress code gives guests some welcome flexibility. The hosts expect you to look good, but they do not expect you to buy or rent a tuxedo.

The optional black tie may also overlap with cocktail and lounge wear, but in case of doubt it is always the best choice. Go a little more elegant.

When to Attract the Black Tie as an Option

Your black tie as an option is best suited for the following occasions:

  • Weddings
  • Fundraisers
  • Galas
  • Dinner parties

If A Dress Code for an event is not set. Usually, you will certainly appear in a fancy cocktail attire. But if it's a classy event, you can play it safe with an optional tie-in black tie.

Optional Ideas for Women with Black Tie

Optional items for women include:

  • Fancy cocktail dresses
  • Evening dresses
  • Suits

You can choose to make your black tie look more or less formal, depending on what you wear. A short dress looks less formal. So when you're wearing a dress, make sure it's chic. Instead choose a floor-length dress for a safe dose of glamor. A luxurious suit is also great for women who prefer to wear pants.

Wear your heels or elegant flats and do not be shy with accessories. These are usually evening events, so you can make a big statement with statement jewelry and makeup. This is also an appropriate time for deep cut-outs and iridescent fabrics, as long as the look remains noble.

Fanciful details like clutches and long gloves match an optional black tie look – but as the name implies, this level of fantasy is optional.

Black Tie Optional Ideas for Men

Men should wear these for formal or black tie-optional events:

  • Tuxedo
  • Dark suits
  • White dress shirts

Leave the light linen suits for the home , Instead choose a color like coal or black. Swap your colored shirt for a more formal white (French cuffs with cufflinks are ideal, but not required). You can also wear a tuxedo if you want.

Keep your tie conservative and monochrome. Flies are also appropriate. Wear shiny leather shoes and a matching belt and stockings that match your suit. Consider a handkerchief as an accessory.


Black tie with optional dress codes saves you the hassle of buying a new, event-specific outfit for a formal occasion. A tuxedo or evening dress is great, but your business suit or cocktail dress will work too. Show your hosts that you value the flexibility of putting your noblest look together with what you have at hand.


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