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THE BLACK TIE DRESS CODE FOR WOMEN
Dress codes can be seriously stressful, especially when said dress code is black tie. Whether you’re heading to a wedding, gala or any other formal event, spotting a black-tie dress code on the invite can cause a little panic. Although the code is rather straightforward for men, it can be somewhat ambiguous for women. As such, a black-tie event can lead to a lot of second-guessing for even the savviest of dressers. So, to ensure you nail this tricky attire requirement, we’ve put together this handy guide. Use it, and you’ll never have to worry about appearing under-dressed or over-dressed again.
What Does Black Tie Mean?
Black tie is a standard dress code for social events. Although most women have heard of the term, many are still unsure as to what it means. If you fall into this category, the first thing you need to understand is that black tie is typically reserved for formal events that take place at night. Black tie for men translates to tuxedos. For ladies, on the other hand, black tie is more lenient and can be interpreted in different ways.
Black Tie Dress Etiquette
Apart from white tie attire, black tie is the most formal of all dress codes. As such, it requires a sophisticated level of dressing. For women, the code typically calls for a floor-length dress or gown. While cocktail dresses can be an appropriate option for black tie, long dresses tend to be a more elevated choice. Selecting a refined dress that features a simple and feminine silhouette and an elegant colour, such as black, will help you nail the etiquette of this dress code.
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Black Tie Cocktail Dresses
For many black-tie events, particularly those that are less formal, a sophisticated cocktail dress can make an ideal outfit choice. This option is perfect for any ladies who feel uncomfortable in a full-length gown. Just make sure you choose the right kind of cocktail dress for the event you’re attending. Selecting one that’s structured or elegant and that sits at the knees is always a good idea. Also, to keep your look elevated, stick to black or rich, jewel-toned colours and finish your ensemble with sophisticated jewellery, accessories, and heels.
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Black Tie Gowns
A black-tie dress code is a great excuse to get glammed up and wear a gown. Full-length gowns in dark shades and decadent fabrics are perfect for formal black-tie events. Just make sure you invest in a quality dress with a timeless appeal. A sophisticated function, such as one that calls for black-tie attire, is no place to wear cheap designs or the latest crazy trends. Instead, stick to classic silhouettes and styles that won’t date.
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Black Tie Wedding Attire
If you’ve received a wedding invitation that denotes a black-tie dress code, don’t panic. While you will be required to get dressed up for this formal occasion, there’s no need to appear red-carpet ready. Instead of wearing a full ball gown, just choose a full-length dress or a formal cocktail frock. Also, remember to be mindful of the colour of your dress. Try to avoid both black and white as they can each seem inappropriate at a wedding. Instead, stick to rich tones of red and navy or something softer like pink.
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Black Tie Gala Attire
A black-tie gala is a good time to go all-out with your outfit. Selecting a floor length gown that is sophisticated and stylish will allow you to nail this dress code without feeling under-dressed. Black is a standard colour choice for gala attire and will never steer you wrong, but don’t be afraid to try other options, such as white, red or metallics. While a classic silhouette that flatters your body type is an ideal choice, you should try adding a little excitement with unique design details and embellishments.
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Black and White Formal Dresses
When it comes to a black-tie dress code, the colour of your outfit is an important decision. While gents will typically wear a black tuxedo, the choice of colour is a lot more open for the ladies. That being said, sticking to a classic palette is always a good option for formal functions and events. Monochromatic styles featuring black and white will often appear more elevated than dresses featuring other shades, such as yellow, pink or red. Opting for a black and white design can also help to create a more coordinated and matching outfit with your date for the evening.
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Formal Black Dresses
There’s a reason why so many women choose to wear a black dress to a formal event. The colour is classic, timeless, and appropriate. As such, it’s a failsafe choice for occasions with elevated codes of dress. Black also tends to be highly flattering and can suit any skin tone, making it an excellent option for all women. If you choose to wear a formal black dress, consider opting for one with exciting details, such as embellishment, or selecting bold accessories to allow your look to stand out from the crowd.
Wedding season is almost here, which means you might be faced with more formal attire than average. We’re not sure about you, but when we open our mailboxes and find an invitation to a black tie function, our thoughts immediately turn to what that dress code actually means. Casual wear is out, obviously, but is a cocktail dress going to cut it, or do we need to Rent the Runway?
That’s why we compiled a guide to black tie formal wear that’ll help you navigate what to wear to a wedding, event, gala, or anything else that calls for black tie attire.
Black-Tie Formal Wear: What It Actually Means
Black tie is a dress code for social functions that start after 6 p.m., and basically translates to “this party is fancy and men should wear tuxedos.” While the intricacies of black tie formal wear applies more to men than to women, it’s still important to understand that your attire should definitely be appropriate.
Gown or No Gown: Do I Have an Option?
Apart from white-tie affairs—which aren’t common—black tie is the most formal dress code you’ll probably face when to comes to weddings or galas. For women, it’s customary to wear floor-length gowns, but exceptions can be made.
Don’t own a gown and don’t particularly want to buy one for a one-off occasion? It’s perfectly acceptable to wear a cocktail dress you already have. However, if you do go this route, just make sure to keep the colors rich (black, jewel tones, chic metallics, brown) so as not to look too casual.
Conversely, women can wear a floor-length gown in a lighter shade, since the silhouette is inherently dressy. Another acceptable option for black-tie affairs: Chic separates, such as a silk blouse with a full satin skirt.
Black Tie Optional: What it Means for Women
If you receive an invite with the term “black tie optional” know that it mostly applies to men who may or may not own or want to wear a tuxedo. For women, it means you have the option of wearing a full-length gown, or opting for a cocktail dress, so long as the hemline isn’t too short or the style isn’t too revealing.
Essentially, ladies should choose a dress that’ll hold up alongside a room full of men in formal tuxedos, and women who potentially have chosen to wear gowns.
Wearing Red to a Formal Affair: What’s the Deal?
This dated fashion rule was put into place during more conservative times when red was thought to be a way-too-sexy, attention-stealing color. Yes, you might want to stay away from wearing a skin-tight red plunging spandex gown to a wedding or black-tie affair, but you probably don’t want to wear that in any color.
These days, there are tons of high-style red dresses that are perfectly acceptable as formal wear. Celebrities often wear red gowns that look elegant and classic, as opposed to tawdry.
A good rule of thumb: Choose red gowns that are made from rich silky fabrics like chiffon or organza, as opposed to shiny satin or anything too stretchy, and always keep embellishments to a minimum.
Wearing White to a Wedding: Yes or No?
Despite the fact that etiquette books say it’s perfectly fine to wear a white dress to someone else’s wedding so long as it’s not overtly “bridal,” we say proceed with caution. It’s become a pretty big no-no in modern times, and you could run the risk of offending the bride—even if it’s a given that you won’t take away any of her attention. Since every woman under the sun is clued into the fact that wearing white is a don’t, it’ll look like you made a conscious effort to cause some drama.