Black and white formal dress 2018

Date: 15.10.2018, 00:47 / Views: 94534

This article is about the black dress code. For other uses, see.

Black tie, occasionally known in the English-speaking world by its French name cravate noire, is a for evening events and social functions derived from British and American conventions of the 19th century. For men, the principal elements of black tie are a white dress shirt with a black, an evening or, and a (called a tuxedo in the United States).

Traditionally worn only for events after 6 p.m., black tie is less formal than but more formal than. It may be worn to private and public dinners, balls, and parties.


Men's standard[]

The elements of gentleman's black tie.

For men, the elements of black tie are:

Women's standard[]

An example of a black evening gown.

Women's dress for black tie occasions has varied greatly through the years; traditionally it was:

  • evening shoes
  • dinner (ankle) or tea (below mid-calf) length sleeveless, often accompanied by:
    • a wrap or and
    • gloves

Today ladies dress for black tie occasions covers a much wider level of formality ranging from just below the white tie standard to something more informal such as a. Specifically it can also include:

  • Evening shoes and
  • A ballgown, evening gown or cocktail dress. Cocktail dresses may be long or moderately short and needn't be black.
  • In England, evening trousers with a cut are another acceptable option.

Unlike the men's standard, the specifics of black tie for women are linked to whatever evening wear is currently in fashion.


Cocktail party – 1936

The first record of a dinner jacket is an 1865 record in the, of an order placed by the Prince of Wales and future King for a short midnight blue jacket. In the following decades of the, the dinner jacket ( in American English) came into fashion as a less formal alternative for the which men of the wore every evening. Thus it was worn with the standard accompaniments for the evening tailcoat at the time: matching trousers, white or black waistcoat, white bow tie, white detachable wing-collar formal shirt and black formal shoes. Lapels were often faced or edged in silk or satin in varying widths. Dinner jackets were considered from the first less formal than full dress (cutaway tailcoat) and etiquette guides declared it inappropriate for wear in mixed company.

During the, the practice of wearing a black waistcoat and black bow tie with a dinner jacket became the convention, establishing the basis of the current black tie and dress codes. The dinner jacket was also increasingly accepted at less formal evening occasions such as warm-weather gatherings or intimate dinners with friends.

After World War I, the dinner jacket became de facto evening wear, while the evening tailcoat was limited to extremely formal or ceremonial occasions. During this interwar period, double-breasted jackets, turndown-collar shirts and cummerbunds became popular for black-tie evenings as did white and colored jackets in warm weather.

In the decades following World War II, black tie became special occasion attire rather than standard evening wear. In the 1950s, colored and patterned jackets, cummerbunds and bow ties and narrow lapels became very popular; the 1960s and 1970s saw the color palette move from muted to bright day-glow and pastel, as well as ruffled-placket shirts as lapels got wider and piping was revived. The 1980s and 1990s saw a return to nostalgic styles, with black jackets and trousers again becoming nearly universal. The 21st century has seen increased variation and a relaxation of previous strict standards; midnight blue once again became popular and lapel facings were sometimes reduced to wide edging.

Traditionally, black tie (in contrast to formal white tie) was considered informal. In the 21st century black tie is often referred to as being semi-formal.

The elements of black tie[]

Unlike, which is very strictly regulated, black-tie ensembles can display more variation. In brief, the traditional components for men are:

  • A jacket with facings (usually or ) on a, or. Many current fashion stylists and writers see notched lapels as less formal although they (like peaked and shawl) were used (though somewhat rarely) in some of the early forms of the garment.[]
  • with a single silk or satin braid covering the outer seams, uncuffed and worn with braces.
  • A black low-cut or a.
  • A white (a or pleated bib is traditional) with double (or "french") and a turndown. While the turndown is most appropriately, the attached wing collar has been popular with American men since the 1980s. However, many style authorities argue that the attached version now typically offered is insubstantial with minuscule wings and inappropriately paired with soft pleated fronts.
  • A black silk matching the lapel facings.
  • and. Some classic etiquette authorities limit studs to stiff-front shirts only and prescribe pearl buttons for soft-front models instead.
  • Black dress, usually of silk or fine wool
  • Black shoes—traditionally patent leather (pumps); now often highly polished or instead.


Covered cuff buttons on a dinner jacket. Dinner jacket peak lapel

The original and most formal model of dinner jacket is the model. The typical black-tie jacket is single-breasted with one button only, with and is of black or midnight blue; usually of wool or a wool–, or wool- blend, although other materials, especially silk, are seen. Although other materials are used, the most appropriate and traditional for the dinner jacket are wool or superfine. models are less common, but considered equally appropriate. Dinner jackets were commonly before World War I, but today come ventless, with, or with. The style is considered more formal, whilst the is the least formal. The (traditionally and ) are usually faced with silk in either a or a weave, but can also be silk. According to the Black Tie Guide, the and are equally authentic and correct. The should be covered in similarly coloured material to the main part of the jacket, which would ideally be either self-faced or covered with the same material as the. Some higher-end single-breasted jackets, both new and vintage, tend to be fastened with a link front closure which is visually similar to a ; this method of closure is still common in the United Kingdom.

The (slit) hip pocket is the only style understated enough to complement the dinner jacket. are not considered appropriate for formal attire's refined minimalism due to their busier and bulkier design and are simply an attempt by tuxedo manufacturers to save money by using standard suit patterns (although sometimes they will trim the edges of a flap pocket so that the flap can be tucked in or removed if desired). can be of self fabric or trimmed with the 's silk facing, though classic menswear scholar Nicholas Antongiavanni suggests that for the English this latter touch "is a sure sign of hired clothes." The dinner jacket should also have a to hold a, which should generally be self-faced rather than covered with silk.

Dinner jacket link front An example of a link front style closure of a dinner jacket, featuring.

, a resident of Tuxedo Park, New York, stated in 1909 that "[Tuxedos] can have lapels or be shawl-shaped, in either case they are to have facings of silk, satin or grosgrain." She later republished this statement in her 1922 book Etiquette, adding that only single-breasted jackets are appropriately called tuxedos. There is a fashion movement suggesting that a man's appearance when wearing the wider and higher is superior to the narrower.

A white dinner jacket.

White dinner jackets are often worn in warm climates. They are in color rather than pure white, and have self-faced lapels (i.e., made of the same fabric as the jacket) rather than silk-faced. They are generally worn with the same types of shirts and accessories as black dinner jackets, though the and preferred to the or. Similarly, the is more common in white dinner jackets. In the United Kingdom, the 20th-century etiquette was that white dinner jackets are never worn, even on the hottest day of summer, but are reserved for wear abroad. Today, white dinner jackets are frequently seen at, formal beach events, and high-school, in the United States and at some concerts (famously for instance the ) in the United Kingdom. In tropical climates, such as in Imperial Burma, desert fawn was historically used as the less formal color. At one time, the (civilian) was also an option in warmer climates.

It is generally considered inappropriate for a man to remove his jacket during a formal social event, but when hot weather and humidity dictate, the man (of the, the guest of honor) may give men permission by noticeably taking off his jacket. In anticipated hot weather, is specified in the invitation, although this dress is esoteric in civilian circles, and is particular to certain communities.

Black bow tie[]

Traditionally, the only neck wear appropriate is the black that is a self-tie and should always match the facing of the dinner jacket and braiding of the seams. The is tied using a common, which is also called the bow knot for that reason. Often, members of wedding parties wear pastel bow ties with their dinner suits; this is inappropriate in a black tie context because it dilutes the formal integrity of the outfit, thereby reducing it to a party costume.


Black tie trousers with a side stripe. Black tie trousers with a side stripe.

Black tie traditionally have no (turn-ups in British English) or belt loops. The outer seams are usually decorated with a single braid of silk or a material that matches or complements the facing. Traditionally,, hidden by the, are used to support the trousers. should not ever be worn with black tie. Evening can be flat-fronted or pleated today; pleats first coming into fashion in the 1930s. Whilst flat-fronted trousers are more fashionable at present, pleated trousers may be considered more comfortable by men who have wider hips and a narrow waist.

Waist coverings[]

A waist covering should generally be worn as part of a black tie ensemble. Either a low cut or may be worn, but never both at the same time. Although the English authority consider that wearing a is smart, they no longer consider either waist covering to be essential. The American authority,, considers them to be an essential component of proper black tie attire. Waist coverings shouldn't be matched to wedding theme colours.

Black tie waistcoat with studs Waistcoat with shawl collar, closed with studs.


A low cut should be worn when wearing a coat. The plays an important part in black tie's refined minimalism by helping to conceal its working parts by discreetly covering the 's exposed waistband and the bosom's bottom edge. come in the 'V' or rarer 'U' shape, in backless or fully backed versions, or, with or without. styles typically have three buttons, and ones three or four rows. Before World War II, while black tie was still gaining acceptance, men would wear a white, along with other details now associated primarily with, such as stiff fronted shirts. However, this style, though increasingly viewed as an affectation, is still acceptable in the United States.The should be made from either the same fabric as the dinner jacket (traditional) or the same silk as the jacket's (popular). When a has, they should be faced in the same silk as those of the jacket; in this case it is considered more refined if the body is made from the same fabric as the jacket. The buttons may be self-faced or covered in the same silk as the. Vintage were sometimes closed with studs made from or, which were often surrounded by a setting of silver or gold.

A is never worn with a. Since this style of jacket is never unbuttoned, the waist of the is never exposed, and therefore does not need to be covered, though before World War II an edge of was often shown between the jacket and.


Black silk cummerbund.

A may be worn with a dinner jacket in lieu of a and, although it is considered slightly less formal, it is equally correct. It looks especially well with a dinner jacket but may be worn in conjunction with. The material of the should be silk, (or faille), or to match that of the bow tie. It features upward facing folds, which were originally used to store theatre or opera tickets, and are now considered to be more decorative than functional. Just like the, are not worn with a.

As the is seen as an extension of the trousers, traditionally it should the same colour, i.e. be black. However, the Black Tie Guide endorses deep and rich colours as a tasteful way to introduce some colour into an outfit that is otherwise. Bright colours, such as those often worn by members of wedding parties, should be avoided and the must remain black in any case. Some higher quality models feature a hidden pocket and an elastic loop to fasten to the trousers.


A modern attached wing collar (of the half-collar shape, with longer wings than a typical attached wing collar) and pre-tied bow tie

designed to be worn with black tie are called "formal shirts," or "tuxedo shirts" in American English and "dress shirts" in British English. Traditionally, the shirt is white, has a bibbed front that is either or pleated, a turndown collar, and double (or "french"). In the early-20th century, a shirt with a wing collar and single cuffs such as is worn with was used, and in the 1960s and 1970s ruffled bibs were popular, but neither styles are often seen today. The wing collar originally disappeared in black tie after the 1920s when the appropriately attached turndown collar shirt became preferred, but it has been popular with American men in a less substantial, attached form since the 1980s. However, many style authorities argue that the wing collar should remain the domain of white tie for aesthetic reasons. Etiquette maven Miss Manners is one of those who feel that while the bow tie's uncovered band is fine in a white-on-white scheme, “gentlemen with their black ties exposed all around their necks look silly."

Gold and cuff links and shirt studs

Although some style authorities consider the to be an acceptable option for black tie shirts, they should not be worn with or a pleated bib, and are better suited to the more formal single-breasted jacket. They should feature a bib that is either or and include stiff single (secured with ), made of the same fabric as the bib; this type of shirt is exactly the same as one worn with attire. The collar in this case should be tall and stiff, which may be attached or. When a full dress shirt is worn in this fashion, it should be accompanied by the white ordinarily associated with. Wearing accessories in this manner is considered by many to be an affectation. do not endorse the as being compatible with the black tie dress code.

The more formal version of the shirt fastens with matching. These are most commonly in silver or gold settings, featuring or ; various geometrical shapes are worn, e.g., circles (most common for ), octagons, or rectangles (most common for ). There has been no consistent fashion preference for gold or silver, but studs with are more formal and therefore often associated with. The soft-front pleated version of the shirt should be fastened with buttons, typically supplied with the shirt on a separate strip of fabric. Alternatively, a fly-front shirt, appropriate with both the marcella and pleated bibs, conceals the for a more minimalistic look.

There are several types of that may be worn with black tie. The most formal and decorative are the double-panel type, which dress both sides of the cuff and are connected by a chain or link of metal; this model conceals the mechanism by which the cuff is secured. The most common, and least decorative, are the swivel bar type; whilst these are acceptable, they leave the inner side of the cuffs and mechanism exposed which is incongruous with formal dress.

Patent Leather Oxford


The most formal and traditional shoes are opera pumps () decorated with bows. The more popular alternative currently is the black lace-up, in or, with a rounded plain toe. or any other decorative patterns should never be seen on Black Tie footwear. Matte finish are also seen. Shoes are almost invariably black and is considered more formal than matte finishes while are considered more formal than. Generally considered too informal for black tie are shoes with open lacing, such as the (bluchers in American English). Notable alternatives include the black button boot (primarily of historical interest only) and the monogrammed which was originally worn only at home. The black Gucci loafer in leather is also considered as an alternative, especially in urban British settings.[] Hosiery is black socks made from fine wool or silk.


Button hole flower with white pocket square.

Most etiquette and fashion guides of the current decade recommend keeping color touches and favoring a single color, usually dark; muted reds, such as maroon, are a traditional choice.

: A handkerchief in linen (traditional), silk, or cotton is usually worn in the breast pocket. Although precedents for tasteful exceptions exist, are normally white, and should not match the waist covering or bow tie.

: A flower may be worn. Red and white, blue, and have all been popular at times. In, the boutonnière is usually a.[]

Outerwear: Black-tie events do not involve outerwear and coats and gloves are no longer considered part of the dress code. However, etiquette for what to wear in public in transit to and from black tie occasions was stiffer in earlier eras and remain an option: Matching overcoats are usually black,, or dark, and traditionally of the style. A was also once popular, and a lighter topcoat can be worn in summer. Historically, an was also worn. Until the mid-20th century, gloves and scarves were always worn, and are still occasionally seen in gray leather and white silk, respectively. White kid gloves have never been standard with black tie, remaining exclusive to white tie dress.

Hat: The 20th-century standard hat for black tie was a black (or midnight blue) in winter, or straw in spring and summer. Fedoras were originally regarded as too informal but have become more common recently. Top hats were originally worn with black-tie, but had been reserved to and from World War I. Black-tie dress does not require a hat today.

Miniature medals with black tie.

Decorations and orders: Military, civil, and organizational are usually worn only to events, generally of formal governmental or diplomatic significance. Miniature and awards are typically worn on the left lapel of the jacket, and neck badges, breast stars, and sashes are worn according to country-specific or organizational regulations. Unlike in, where decorations are always permitted, the dress code will usually give some indication when decorations are to be worn with black tie.

Timepiece: Traditionally visible timepieces are not worn with formal evening dress, because timekeeping is not supposed to be considered a priority. are acceptable.

Black-tie social occasions[]

Black tie worn at a dinner party in the 1940s.

Black tie is worn to private and public dinners,, and parties. At the more formal end of the social spectrum, it has to a large extent replaced the more formal. The black tie code is sometimes classified as "semi-formal" in contrast to the "formal" white tie, or as "formal" in contrast to the "most formal" of white tie. Once more common, dress code is now fairly rare, being reserved for only extremely formal occasions.Black tie is traditionally worn only after six o'clock in the evening, or after sundown during winter months. Black tie's rough daytime equivalent is the, which is less formal than because (as with black tie) it replaces the tailcoat with a. Curiously, in opposition to the trend seen in evening dress, the less formal is now extraordinarily rare, whereas is still relatively common.

When the dress code for an event starting at or after 6 o'clock in the evening is described as 'formal' with no further qualification, the invitee may choose to wear either black tie or a dark with a tie.

Opera and ballet[]

Traditionally, black tie should be worn to the although a dark is also now acceptable. In the 21st century, many opera houses in the English-speaking world do not stipulate black tie. For example, neither the nor the have a black tie. Black tie is customary at English country house opera, such as during the summer Festival at.

Black tie should also be worn at a or gala.[]

Cruise ships[]

At formal dinners on the will typically be black tie although a dark may be worn as a substitute. In 2013, noted for its adherence to formal, relaxed its dress standards. As of 2015 Cunard requires one of a dinner jacket, a, formal or for gentlemen diners on formal evenings. Similarly, the luxury cruise liner,, stipulates either a tuxedo or a dark business suit on formal evenings.


Some university debating societies, such as at and conduct at least some of their debates in black tie. Learned societies, such as the, may also follow a similar practice.

Black tie at weddings[]

Black tie worn at a wedding

In the last few decades, in place of the traditional or, black tie has been increasingly seen in the United States at formal day. However, etiquette and clothing experts continue to discourage or condemn the wearing of black tie as too informal for weddings, or any event before 7 p.m., such as by (1872-1960) and (1908-1974), the latter arguing that "no man should ever be caught in a church in a tuxedo."

In the and the rest of, although a minority accepts black tie at evening, including some, it is seldom worn at church weddings or civil ceremonies where instead, or a is normally favoured. In some places, local variations of white tie etiquette may traditionally be worn, such as in.

Corresponding forms of dress[]

Mess dress[]

Main article:

For formal dining, and often wear equivalents to the civilian black tie and evening dress. Mess uniforms may vary according to the wearers' respective branches of the armed services, regiments, or corps, but usually include a short Eton-style coat reaching to the waist. Some include white shirts, black bow ties, and low-cut waistcoats, while others feature high collars that fasten around the neck and corresponding high-gorge waistcoats. Some nations' armed services have black tie and white tie equivalent variants in their mess dress.

Red Sea Rig[]

Main article:

In tropical areas, primarily in Western diplomatic and expatriate communities, is sometimes worn, in which the jacket and waistcoat are omitted and a red and trousers with red piping are worn instead.

Scottish Highland dress[]

Main article:

Scottish Highland dress is often worn to black- and white-tie occasions, especially at Scottish reels and ; the black-tie version is more common, even at white-tie occasions. Traditionally, black-tie Scots Highland dress comprises:

  • Black, or other solid colour, barathea jacket with silver buttons — Regulation, Prince Charlie (coatee), Brian Boru, Braemar, and black mess jackets are suitable. There is some contention about whether the Duke of Montrose and Sheriffmuir doublets are too formal for black-tie occasions. The Argyll jacket is a popular alternative choice; however, it should be worn with a three button waistcoat rather than the five button vest.
  • Miniature medals (if authorized)
  • Matching or tartan waistcoat
  • White shirt with shirt studs, French or barrel cuffs, and a turn-down collar (wing collars are generally reserved for in the United Kingdom)
  • Black bow tie or white lace
  • Evening dress
  • Full-dress kilt hose (diced, tartan or off-white)
  • Silk flashes or garter ties
  • with silver chain
  • Black, silver-mounted
  • (optional)
  • Highland bonnet with crest badge (only suitable out of doors)

Traditional black-tie Lowland dress is a variant of the normal black tie that includes tartan rather than the usual trousers and may include a suitable kilt jacket instead of the dinner jacket. Trews are often worn in summer and warm climes.

See also[]


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  31. ^. Retrieved 2016-05-29.
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  41. .
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  43. .
  44. .
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  47. . Cunard. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  48. (PDF). Seabourn Cruise Line Limited. p. 21. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  49. .
  50. . Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  51. Rich, Jonathan (2004).. Nelson Thornes.  .
  52. . Royal Aeronautical Society.
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  54. .
  55. (1970). Scottish Tartans & Highland Dress. Glasgow/London: Wm. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. p. 98.  .

Further reading[]

  • magazine, an account of 1930s fashion and style; some issues more relevant than others, such as those reproduced with comment at The London Lounge: and (numbering: London Lounge, not original)
  • (2002). Dressing the Man: Mastering the art of Permanent Fashion. New York:.  .
  • provides a breakdown of traditional categories of progressing formality in dress for men & women.
  • is the most prominent British authority on etiquette, which discusses the elements of black tie.
  • have a guide for men on how to dress for any black tie event.

External links[]

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

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