Going to a black tie wedding? Here’s how you should dress.
Black tie wedding attire for men isn’t something you wear every day. That’s partially because weddings aren’t daily occurrences. But it’s also because black tie weddings aren’t as common as they once were.
In general, the black tie dress code isn’t as commonplace anymore. Someone who regularly attends weddings can go their whole life without attending a black tie wedding.
If you’re prepping for a black tie wedding, you probably have a ton of questions. What do men wear to a black tie wedding? Do you just rent a black tuxedo and call it a day? Does black-tie attire always mean an actual black tie? And what the heck does black tie optional mean, anyway?
Let’s dive into all these questions and more to decode men’s attire for a black tie wedding.
What Is Black Tie Attire?
The short answer is that black tie attire typically means a tuxedo. As Gentleman’s Gazette pointed out, that means:
- The tux
- A dinner jacket
- Matching tuxedo trousers
- A waist covering (cummerbund or waistcoat)
- A tuxedo shirt
- Dress shoes
- A bow tie
- Accessories (e.g., cufflinks, suspenders, pocket squares, etc.)
As restrictive as black tie might seem at first, it actually offers you all kinds of options. For example, you don’t actually have to wear black — you can also wear midnight blue. You can also choose between a peaked lapel (also called a peak lapel) or a shawl lapel.
If you’re interested in reading more about what this dress code entails, check out our complete guide to black tie. For this article, though, let’s just go with the basic definition of black tie as requiring a tuxedo.
What Does Black Tie Optional Mean?
If you’ve got a wedding invitation that says black tie optional, you might be understandably confused. Inexplicably, black tie optional is even more confusing than black tie!
In short, a black tie optional means that you can either wear a black tie or something that’s close to a black tie. (In other words, it doesn’t mean you can show up in a hoodie and jeans).
Generally, you should wear a black tie to a black tie optional wedding if you can. After all, if you already have a tuxedo that fits well, you might as well wear it.
If you’re unable to wear a full black tie, don’t worry. Go for a dark-colored suit (think black or navy), a pure white dress shirt (no patterns), and dark shoes. You want to emulate black tie and dress as formally as you can.
At the same time, don’t sweat it if you can’t get too close. Black tie optional is designed to accommodate men who can’t wear strict black tie. No one will judge you just because you can’t afford a fully tailored tux.
If you do end up wearing a dark suit, don’t wear a black bow tie. This will give the impression that you’re wearing an imitation tux. Instead, go with a non-black, solid-color tie in a dark color like a deep navy or burgundy.
What Do Men Wear to a Black Tie Wedding?
Unsurprisingly, black tie weddings almost always follow the typical black tie dress code. Basically, if you’re going to a black tie wedding, wear a tux. Don’t stray too much from traditional black tie unless the dress code is black tie optional.
Ideally, the wedding invitation should signify how strict or loose the dress code is. If it’s not clear, you’re completely in the right to ask one of the planners or organizers. It’s always better to double-check than to show up underdressed!
(Also, skip the boutonniere unless you’re in the wedding party).
Should You Rent a Tuxedo for a Black Tie Wedding?
It’s always better to buy a tuxedo instead of renting.
First, rental tuxedos just don’t fit as well. While a rental tux can be altered slightly, it can’t be fully tailored.
This is bad news if your proportions are different from whatever the tuxedo company considers to be standard. If you’re shorter, taller, or bigger than average, you’ll likely find that most rental tuxedos won’t fit you correctly.
Second, if you attend formal events regularly, it’s much more cost-effective to just buy a tux. Renting costs around $150 on average, and buying a tux outright often ranges from $500 to $1000. If you plan to wear a tuxedo at least five times, you’ll save money by buying instead of renting.
All of that said, if you just can’t afford to buy a tux, you may be stuck with renting. Don’t panic — it’s not the end of the world! However, you should probably research tuxedo rental companies to get information about sizing. That way, you can optimize your chances of having a rental tux that fits well.
Are Formal Weddings and Black Tie Weddings the Same?
Confusingly, formal in the context of a wedding doesn’t mean black tie. Black tie is one of the most formal dress codes, but it’s not actually called formal.
Instead, formal attire basically means the same thing as black tie optional. It’s a step below black tie, but it’s still formal enough to be called formal.
In essence, if your invitation stipulates formal wear, you’re likely good with a nice dark-colored suit. However, it is worth checking in with the wedding party to make absolutely sure.
Black Tie Wedding Attire for Men FAQ
Here are some quick answers to commonly asked questions about black tie men’s wedding attire.
Can I Wear a Normal Suit to a Black-Tie Event?
No. If the event is a black tie, you must wear a black or midnight blue tuxedo. If the event is a black tie optional (or referred to as a formal event), you can wear a dark-colored suit.
What Is the Difference Between a Formal Wedding and a Black Tie Wedding?
A formal wedding is essentially the same as a black tie optional wedding. A black tie wedding requires men to wear a tuxedo. In contrast, a formal wedding only requires men to wear dark suits.
Can a Guest Wear Black to a Black Tie Wedding?
Yes! Black is part of black tie, after all. That said, you can also wear a midnight blue tuxedo, but a black tuxedo is widely considered standard.
Conclusion: Get a Nice Tux
Here’s the extra-short explanation of men’s black tie wedding attire: Wear a black or midnight blue tuxedo.
If you want, you can also dive further into the black tie dress code. This will allow you to modify your outfit and accessorize in an appropriate manner. But don’t feel like you have to become an expert just because you’re going to a black tie wedding.
And remember, when in doubt, reach out to a wedding planner or someone at the wedding party to clarify. Not all invitations are as clear as they should be, so clarifying ahead of time is often the best move.
Those are the basics of black tie wedding attire for men. If you’re looking for some more advanced reading, read our guide to black tie.
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