What to Wear to a Black Tie Wedding

At the mere age of 8, my friends and I would fantasize about our future weddings. I know it seems rather inappropriate to daydream about something so adult—but our visions consisted of superficial things rather than long-term commitment. My Pinterest board consisted of an indoor garden ceremony, a white-tiered cake, and a mermaid-style bridal gown. 

Musing about that special day is a common fantasy that most people indulge in, and while I’m sure that our visions are all different, there’s a good chance it’s a black-tie wedding event. 

In this day and age, it would be the economical choice to elope and splurge on the honeymoon afterward—but a girl can dream. If it’s not within the cards, there’s some hope that one of your friends will throw a BTW in the future. Judging by this article title, you’re probably on the guest list. So, with that in mind, what do you wear to a black tie wedding? 

There’s no need to throw your closet into chaos. For those in need of a dapper outfit in time for the big day, we’ll show you what to wear to a black tie wedding using 11 OOTD ideas. From penguin suits to slinky silk dresses, we’ve collected the creme-de-la-creme of ensembles for all genders to choose from. 

What is a Black Tie Wedding?

This isn’t a backyard extravaganza or a civil ceremony. A black tie wedding is a highly formal event that requires its guests to dress well. Think of full-length ball gowns, tuxedos, and patent leather shoes. It’s not as strict as a white-tie event, but don’t take it as an excuse to be lax with your outfit. If anything, a BTW posits a unique opportunity to finally buy that fancy suit. 

What to Wear to a Black Tie Wedding

Black tie weddings offer a strict dress code. Short dresses are not allowed, and suits are considered a requirement, not an option. If you choose to wear a ballgown, it should not reveal the ankles at the hemline. It’s worth noting that you don’t have to wear a tuxedo with tails, but it’s best to ask the wedding planner or the couple just to be sure. 

So, with that out of the way, you’re probably still wondering what to wear to a black tie wedding. In most cases, the bride or the groom will have a preset color theme for their guests to reference. They may ask you to wear creams, pinks, or greens for photography purposes. 

While this narrows the outfit ballpark a bit, it’s still a large arena to play around with. We recommend opting for classic silhouettes devoid of any bells and whistles. Remember, it’s their special day, not yours.  

For additional specifics, we’ll show you what to wear to a black tie wedding by using 11 outfit ideas. Let’s get started! 

6 Outfit Ideas for a Black Tie Wedding for Women

‘Modern romance’ is a common wedding theme that most couples choose, and for good reason. It’s a one-day fantasy that entails candlelight dinners, onyx plates, glassware, and lots of blooming roses.

Naturally, you’ll want to embody the same vibe as a guest, which is why we included this stunning number in our ‘what to wear to a black tie wedding’ lineup. 

Composed of gold-tinted accents, beige mesh fabric, and a bodycon silhouette, this glamorous dress is perfect for high-profile events. Don’t forget to finish off this look with a pair of nude heels and a matching clutch bag. 

So, what do women wear to a black tie wedding? In most cases, the dress is the go-to option. If you can’t decide on the color, why not opt for the hue of the season? Emerald green is one of the hottest colors for wedding ceremonies, thanks to its deep jewel tone. 

This silk dress does wonders in showcasing this mesmerizing shade, as it features a fitted bodice, a flowing skirt, and a sultry thigh slit for added movement. It’s worth noting that showing a bit of ankle is okay, so long as the dress’s hem extends past the foot. 

It’s usually considered poor taste to wear white to a wedding, but I’m sure printed designs are deemed acceptable. For instance, this stunning dress features a flurry of blue floral accents. Accentuated with layered tiers and a gathered bodice, this number is slightly reminiscent of delicate China plates. 

It’s the gown to fashion for a vintage-themed ceremony, as it’s somewhat antique in aesthetic. Due to the outfit’s silhouette and pattern, this is something to consider if you’re wondering, “What does a woman wear to a black tie wedding?” 

Not a fan of loud prints or patterns? If so, there’s nothing wrong with opting for simplicity. Considered a more elegant take on the classic LBD, this dress features a one-sleeve moment, a fitted bodice, a mermaid-style skirt that comes with a sultry thigh-slit. 

It’s definitely giving me ‘James Bond leading lady’ sort of vibes thanks to the sexy but simplistic silhouette of the gown. We recommend topping this look with a pair of pointed-toe stilettos and dainty diamond jewelry. 

For those Googling ‘what does a man wear to a black tie wedding’ into the search bar, there’s a good chance that you’ll be bombarded with tux after tux. It’s 2022; we say that you can wear whatever you want to a high-profile ceremony—as long as it’s still fancy. 

While I’m sure most of you are keen on wearing a dress regardless, there might be some of you that have reservations. If so, we recommend this stunning jumpsuit.

Featuring a low-cut bodice and cape-style bottoms, it’s the perfect number to wear to the reception. We suggest wearing a pair of Louboutins and a set of gold-tinted hoops for a touch of bling. 

Who says you can’t wear a tux to a wedding? If you’re not a fan of dresses or jumpsuits, we suggest donning this crisp look by Alexander McQueen.

Considered part of his 2021 collection, this stunning number comes with a pair of cigarette trousers, a sharp blazer, and diamond-studded hoops for a touch of bling. 

Arguably, the best part of this ensemble is the unique white collar featured on the front. Angular, bold, and perfect for boss-babe types, it’s the number to break all black tie wedding outfits. 

5 Outfit Ideas for a Black Tie Wedding for Men

It’s worth noting that black tie weddings don’t exclusively mean black suits and pants. You’re free to wear any color, such as pink. This dapper outfit consists of fitted trousers, a matching blazer, a white button-up, and a decorative pocket hanky for extra pizazz. 

The collared shirt comes with a slight grid pattern, which helps break up the monotony of solid colors provided in the outfit. For shoes, we recommend donning a pair of brown Oxfords. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what to wear to a black tie wedding. 

If you’re allowed to wear bright colors to the wedding, we suggest this bold blue outfit. Comprising a double-breasted suit, tailored trousers, a collared shirt, and a matching tie, this OOTD is certainly a daring take on traditional ceremony attire. 

While wearing sunglasses is ill-advised, we recommend a pair of black loafers to help downplay the vibrant hues. For those wondering what to wear to a black tie wedding set in a whimsical, avant-garde theme, this is the ‘fit to sport. 

In some instances, it’s totally acceptable to wear a beige suit instead of black. Of course, it’s best to check with the bride and groom if it’s okay. For those given the green light, this chic ensemble features a pair of trousers, a well-fitted blazer, a white collared shirt, and a fashionable black tie. 

It’s all about fitting, as you should definitely hire a seamstress to ensure that your suit is cut to your proportions. Trust us, it’s the easiest way to look expensive without the added effort. 

Of course, we can’t forget to include the classic all-black number in our ‘what to wear to a black tie wedding’ lineup. Clean, sleek, and stylishly effortless, this dazzling beauty showcases the art of tailoring. 

It comes with a fitted blazer, cigarette-style trousers, a white button-up, and a stylish bow tie for extra ‘oomph.’ Instead of opting for brown oxfords, we highly recommend a pair of black Italian shoes to really drive home that ‘James Bond’ vibe. 

Considered a great ensemble for jewel-toned ceremonies, this deep emerald green suit looks rich and opulent when paired with a simple white button-up. I can definitely imagine this in a Great Gatsby-themed wedding, as it imbues the same sophisticated vibe. 

Finished off with a black bow tie, a boutonniere, and a decorative lapel chain, it’s a clean look for those wondering what do men wear to a black tie wedding. 

What Type of Black Tie Wedding Outfits Can You Get?

Black tie weddings require full-length gowns, extravagant jumpsuits, and tuxedos. At first glance, it may seem like a strict dress code, as the choices are narrowed down to three.

But hey—look on the bright side. The selection of potential outfit ideas is a lot less overwhelming, and it definitely takes the headache away from shopping. 

Need some in-depth specifics on what each choice entails? Considering that fancy garb is notorious for being expensive, we’ve developed a helpful guide to mitigate any future migraines:

  • Full-length dresses: As aforementioned, mini skirts and short dresses are considered ill-advised at a super formal ceremony. You must wear a gown that extends past your ankles, such as the ones featured in our ‘what to wear to a black tie wedding’ lineup. 
  • Jumpsuits: It’s worth noting that this doesn’t include rompers and overalls. Instead, we’re referring to extravagant, full-length, one-pieces. It’s considered a great compromise between a dress and a tuxedo. 
  • Tuxedo: You’re not required to wear suits with tails, but it’s always best to ask the wedding planner just in case. If anything, you can never go wrong with a classic black number. Some couples may be open to different colors, but again, it’s a good idea to double-check. 

How to Choose The Best Black Tie Wedding Attire

Black tie weddings require you to visit stores you’ve never been to before. Yes, this means staying away from Shein, Zara, and H&M. 

Formalwear needs to look expensive, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend hundreds of dollars. Instead, shoppers need to assess each clothing piece by price, quality, material, and fit. This ensures no rips, dips, or distasteful glares at reception. 

Formal dresses are often made out of silk, satin, chiffon, jacquard, and cotton. Depending on the silhouette and style, they should feel soft and extravagant to the touch. 

Before you settle on a design, it’s important to consider the wedding theme and the season you’re currently in. For instance, you don’t want to wear a sheer number in the dead of winter, nor do you want to fashion a long-sleeve moment in 30-degree heat. It’s worth noting that this also applies to jumpsuits as well. 

If we’re talking about tuxes, it’s essential to find a number made out of wool, polyester, and rayon. They should hold their shape, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for stiff fabrics. At the end of the day, shoppers should never opt for thinly made tuxes, as they’ll often drape and pleat in unwanted areas. 

Like dresses and jumpsuits, tailoring is considered a pivotal step. Oversized silhouettes are considered ill-advised at weddings, so it’s best to be friends with your local seamstress. 

High-quality formalwear isn’t cheap. You should expect to pay over $200 for a well-made piece. If you’re not fond of single-use fashion, we suggest renting out a tux or dress to help save money. 

How to Style your Black Tie Wedding Attire

So, have you finally figured out what to wear to a black tie wedding? If so, it’s time to do some last-minute styling. To help you stand out of the sea of penguins and glittery sequins, here are some ways to pizazz your final BTW look. 

  • Boutonniere: Considered an accent to any tuxedo suit, a single flower can help romanticize the stark look of a traditional blazer. We suggest consulting with the wedding planner or couple in terms of recommended flowers. 
  • The lapel chain: Jewelry is considered a no-go with tuxedos, but you’re free to wear a decorative lapel chain for a touch of bling. 
  • The pocket hanky: Not only does it add a pop of color to a tuxedo, but it’s a must-have for guests during emotional speeches. 
  • Dainty jewelry: Simple elegance is the way forward when it comes to accessories. We recommend subbing chunky chains with a delicate necklace and a pair of diamond studs instead. 
  • High heels: Flats and platforms are considered ill-advised to wear at weddings. You can never go wrong with a pair of pointed-toe stilettos or a set of kitten heels. 

Fashion Tips to Avoid in a Black Tie Wedding

Trust me, there are hundreds of styling no-nos when it comes to black tie events. In the previous segments, we’ve mentioned a few to avoid. But for those completely in the dark regarding formalwear, here are some fashion tips to stay clear of:

  • Boots: Doc Martens, Uggs, and combat boots are the antithesis of formal wear. Trust me, there’s nothing tackier than pairing a tuxedo or dress with a set of chunky lace-ups. 
  • Mini skirts and dresses: Black tie weddings require full-length ball gowns. Here’s a general rule of thumb: if it’s considered appropriate for clubbing, partying, or casual use, it’s a no-no in terms of formalwear. 
  • White: Just because Kelly Kapoor wore white at Phyllis’ wedding, it doesn’t mean you’re allowed to.
  • Flip flops: Unless it’s a party favor for beach-themed weddings, it’s probably best to leave your sandals at home. 
  • Shorts: This is considered a styling no-brainer, but we thought it best to include it anyways. Cargo shorts, distressed denim, and bermudas are off-limits when it comes to weddings. 
  • Loungewear: This only applies to silk robes and slips for pre-game weddings. You should never wear yoga pants, sweats, or hoodies if you’re a guest. 

Best Places to Buy Black Tie Wedding Attire

Once you’ve figured out what to wear to a black tie wedding, it’s time to do some shopping. For those in need of recommendations, we’ll spotlight a few stores to consider. 

  • Reformation
  • Joanna’s Bridal
  • Nordstrom 
  • Suit Supply 
  • Indochino 

Final Thoughts

Despite the headache that comes with it, black tie events come with a level of excitement if you’re a guest. Yes, it does involve some outfit coordination, but it can be a fun event between friends and family.

You can finally wear that slinky satin slip or that dapper tuxedo, and we’ve shown you 11 outfit ideas to consider. Our list is chock-full of inspiration if we do say so ourselves. 

Again, it’s best to consult with the wedding planner or the couple to ensure no confusion. You don’t want to wear a green emerald dress if the theme calls for pastel tones.

In most cases, they’ll give a heads-up months in advance. From sharp-looking suits to tiered dresses, here’s to hoping you’ve figured out what to wear to a black tie wedding. 

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