What Does “Black Tie” Mean?

The term “black tie” refers to a specific type of formal dress code for social functions that originated in British and American conventions. This dress code is traditionally used for evening events and social functions that start after 6 p.m. “Black Tie” is often associated with class, sophistication, and a high level of standards in presence and attire.

The term itself appeared in the 19th century in the context of formal wear for men. In essence, “black tie” translates to wearing a tuxedo or dinner jacket. The specifics depending on the local custom and the time of the day. For men, attires generally consist of a black wool or ultrafine herringbone dinner jacket. These jackets usually have satin or grosgrain facings on the lapels, a black formal trouser, a white evening shirt, a black bow tie, black formal footwear and optional accessories like cummerbund, a black low cut waistcoat, and a boutonnière (a floral decoration worn by men), amongst others.

For women, the equivalent of black tie is a formal evening gown or dress. Usually, the gown is floor length, although cocktail dresses can also be appropriate when they are of a formal cut and fabric. Styling should be elegant, consisting of well-tailored and fitted attire.

It’s important to mention that “Black Tie” dress code is gradually evolving and people tend to interpret it according to their personal style. Therefore, some slight variations in the attire are acceptable today. That said, one should adhere to well-established principles that show respect to hosts and guests.

Over the years, several variations of black tie have developed, such as black-tie optional, creative black tie, and warm-weather black tie. While “Black Tie Optional” provides guests the option of wearing a tuxedo/dinner suit or a dark suit, “Creative Black Tie” represents a fusion of black tie attire with trendy or whimsical items. The “Warm-Weather Black Tie” is a variation where men wear a white or ivory dinner jacket in place of black, offering a more comfortable option in hotter weather.

In conclusion, “Black Tie” is more than just a dress code – it’s a theme and an atmosphere. Whether it’s a wedding, a formal party, or a high class social gathering, “Black Tie” signifies a refined and classy environment. While it does require a certain type of formal dressing, there are modern and creative versions allowing slight fluctuations in how it is interpreted. Yet, the essence remains the same: well thought-through outfits for a sophisticated setting.