Black-Tie Dress Code – Dos And Don’ts

When it comes to sartorial elegance, few dress codes carry the weight and sophistication of the Black-Tie. This dress code is the epitome of formality, and understanding its nuances can indeed seem a bit formidable. With this comprehensive guide, we aim to unravel the dos and don’ts of the black-tie dress code for men and help you exude the impeccable grace that such events warrant.

A Brief History of the Black-Tie Dress Code

Before diving into the intricacies of the Black-Tie dress code for men, let’s take a step back in history. This dress code finds its roots in the formal dinner parties of the Victorian era. Its modern interpretation began in the 19th century when the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) desired a more comfortable alternative to tailcoats for dinner. From there, the trend of the tuxedo or dinner jacket quickly spread across the Atlantic, cementing its place in formal men’s fashion.

Understanding the Black-Tie Ensemble

Black-tie events symbolise significance and grandeur, marked by their elaborate nature and regal vibe. They could be awards ceremonies, grand weddings, milestone birthday celebrations, or prestigious balls. The dress code is traditionally the most formal in men’s fashion, necessitating specific garments and styles to maintain the decorum and elegance of the event.


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The Quintessential Elements of the Black-Tie Dress Code

A tuxedo and its accessories

1. The Dinner Jacket

At the heart of the Black-Tie formal suit lies the dinner jacket or tuxedo, the foundation of your attire. This jacket must perfectly contour your body, neither too tight nor too loose, allowing for fluid movement. The timeless silk-lapelled jacket remains a classic choice, with wool barathea offering a sophisticated alternative. For those who dare to experiment, a velvet jacket could add a touch of chic to your ensemble. Summer events may warrant lighter shades, including tan, grey, or light blue. Remember, sports coats, blazers, or traditional suits do not fit this dress code.

2. The Trousers

The trousers accompanying your dinner jacket should ideally be crafted from the same fabric, ensuring a seamless look. A dark pair of fitted trousers is the safest bet. A satin stripe running down the side of each leg is a classy touch. Comfort is as vital as style, so do not hesitate to opt for braces. Remember, your trousers must always have a clean hem, and clingy materials are a strict no-no.

3. The Shirt

The base of your Black-Tie ensemble, the shirt, requires careful selection. A traditionally pleated dress shirt with a winged collar and cufflink holes on the sleeves is the ideal choice. Going shirtless or opting for an open-collar dress shirt could lead to a major faux pas, given the dress code’s requirement for a bow tie or formal necktie.

4. The Shoes

Your footwear for a black-tie event should reflect the event’s elevated status. Leather or patent black shoes are the fail-safe option. Depending on your outfit, you could also consider velvet slippers. Socks are not to be overlooked. Mid-calf socks in classic natural shades like black or navy would be your best bet. Open-toed shoes and tennis shoes are a definite no.

5. The Bow Tie

An essential accessory to your Black-Tie ensemble, the bow tie, should always be hand-tied. As it can take a bit of practice, it’s advisable to allow yourself some extra preparation time. Remember, a white tie is reserved for white-tie events, an even loftier dress code. For a black-tie event, stick to black or other dark, rich colours.


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Accentuating Your Ensemble With the Right Accessories

So, are you wondering how to wear a tuxedo? While your suit, shirt, and shoes form the core of the Black-Tie dress code for men, the right accessories can accentuate your look.

1. Cufflinks

Cufflinks add an element of sophistication to your attire. Opt for simple, elegant designs in silver or gold. Novelty cufflinks are best avoided for such formal events.

2. Pocket Square

A silk pocket square can enhance the elegance of your jacket. Traditionally, a white pocket square is the safest choice for a black-tie event.

3. Timepiece

If you wish to wear a watch, ensure it is as understated and elegant as the rest of your attire. A thin black or silver watch with a simple face is an appropriate choice.

4. Waistcoat or Cummerbund

A low-cut waistcoat or a cummerbund can add a touch of elegance to your black-tie attire. Remember, they should always match the material of your dinner jacket.


In essence, navigating the Black-Tie dress code doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Adhering to these guidelines can create a dashing outfit that speaks volumes about your style. The key is to maintain simplicity and allow the quality of your garments to shine through.

The black-tie attire signifies the pinnacle of men’s fashion formality. With the understanding of the necessary elements and some tips on perfecting your outfit, you’re ready to make a statement at your next black-tie event. All you need now is to polish your shoes, straighten your tie, and relish the experience.

The Hidalgo Brothers can help you adhere to these strict rules while adding a touch of personal flair. Our bespoke services ensure your black-tie ensemble fits like a glove and mirrors your unique style. Get in touch with us for more information.


1. What makes a black-tie event different from other formal events?

Black-tie events are the epitome of formal social events. They are characterised by their grandeur and significance, often including milestone celebrations, prestigious award ceremonies, proms, and extravagant weddings. The black-tie ensemble is considered the most formal in men’s fashion, requiring specific garments and styles to ensure the attendee exudes elegance and sophistication.

2. Can I wear a regular suit to a black-tie event?

No, a regular suit does not meet the black-tie dress code. The key to successfully dressing for a black-tie event is to wear a dinner jacket or tuxedo. This should be perfectly tailored to fit your body, allowing you to move comfortably while looking elegant. The trousers should ideally match the jacket fabric, and you should complete the ensemble with a traditionally pleated dress shirt and formal neckwear.

3. Are there any colour restrictions for a black-tie ensemble?

Yes, there are certain colour conventions associated with this dress code. The tuxedo or dinner jacket, along with the trousers, should ideally be black. Lighter shades such as grey, tan or light blue may be acceptable for summer events. The dress shirt is traditionally white, while the tie should be black or a dark, rich colour. Remember, a white tie is strictly reserved for white-tie events.