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Getting invited to a formal dinner, party, or high society occasion is always exciting. From charity dinners to balls and awards events, there are plenty on the social calendar to choose from. Usually you’ll get a posh invitation with all the instructions for the event listed on them. 
Getting invited to a formal dinner, party, or high society occasion is always exciting. From charity dinners to balls and awards events, there are plenty on the social calendar to choose from. Usually you’ll get a posh invitation with all the instructions for the event listed on them. Open up the invite, read down, and there it is: 
 

Dress code: Black Tie 

The black tie suit is a well-respected and known tradition and there are a few rules and fashion directions to follow. We thought we’d give you some pointers to help you look your absolute best whilst making sure you’re not making any fashion faux pas! 
 

What are your options with ‘black tie only’ as a dress code? 

We’ll discuss colours below, but traditionally you’ll need a black tie and black suit as the name suggests. The traditional and classic choice is a single-breasted black dinner suit with a single button on the front. 
 
Often called a dinner suit or dress suit, some will be accompanied by trousers with a satin stripe down the side of them. This combination of jacket and black tie is often called a tuxedo or ‘tux’ for short. 
 
There are ‘options’ with a black tie suit, just like with other suits, but you’ll find the majority of people will go for the classic option described at the start of this section. 
 

When do you wear a black tie suit? 

It’s important to be dressed correctly for the occasion. If you’re attending a prestigious event like a charity evening or awards dinner and the invitation states ‘strictly black tie’ it’s best to adhere to it. 
 
Dress formally in a smart black dinner suit, white shirt and bow tie. Our advice is to keep it simple and conform here. Some events are very strict about this. 
 
If it’s a birthday party, wedding, or something like a cruise then you can generally add a bit of personality to your outfit like a colourful bow tie, jazzy waistcoat, or even a white tuxedo. 
 
If in doubt, ask. 
 

Can I add some colour to the black tie tradition? 

There are plenty of occasions where you can be a little inventive and stand out a little and for these times, some subtle colours will serve you well. 
 
There are a variety of colours you can introduce to your outfit, and this often best done with your accessories. 
 
Of course, the black tie can be a different colour, can’t it? Burgundy is the second choice for those who still want to look really smart and then we move on to bright red, which is a classic colour choice at Christmas time. 
 
Want to really go for it? Add any colour you like with the tie (dress code depending) and/or match the colour of your partner’s party dress so your outfits complement each other. 
 
Blue, green, deep red, purple, silver or gold are really popular choices for bow ties. Want to go even further? Why not add a matching waistcoats or cummerbund? You’ll really stand out whilst still conforming to the ‘black tie’ dress code. 
 
There are some other options for those who really like to stand out. The jacket doesn’t have to be black… you can add some cheeky colour in here too. 
 
Why not choose a dark green or midnight blue jacket or suit, or even a velvet jacket? Or you could choose a jacket with a slightly tweaked style with a more pointed lapel or angled jacket pockets. You have options within the guidelines. 
 

Do I need a waistcoat? 

The traditional use of the waistcoat was to store things like cigars, a wallet, or pocket watch. Clearly times have moved on with the no smoking culture and watches now either being on your phone or on your wrist. But the waistcoat lives on in fashion and you might want to have this addition to create a stylish matching three-piece suit. 
 
A waistcoat is an excellent addition but tends to be better during the colder months or for a black tie wedding. 
 
Because at many occasions you can’t really take your jacket off, a waistcoat can be quite warm in summer time and is best avoided if you’re one who feels the warmth more than most. 
 
A waistcoat does gives you the option of a matching three-piece suit though and this can help you inject some colour or some added pattern to your outfit. Wearing it is always an option, though. It’s not considered a must. 
 

And then shoes to match 

Get yourself a good pair of black shoes to make your outfit is complete. Shiny is the way forward here to set off the matt black jacket and trousers. Your shoes must be black and they must be polished or a hi-shine dress shoe. 
 
If you’re hiring your suit (as many do) then it’s best to have your own pair of shoes. These are then ready worn in, they fit and they look smart and don’t hurt your feet. 
 
If you’re wearing a black velvet jacket a black suede shoe can complement this very well. 
 

Black tie only? 

Not always. There are many options for you depending on your style and the event. The three-piece gives you the best canvas to work with but do check the event and with the hosts if you’re unsure. Unless you really want to make a statement and stand out for all the wrong reasons, that is! 
 
The black tie is a classic style and one we’re very familiar and experienced with. If you’re local to Warwick then do come and speak to us about it. 
 
We’ll guide you to the right suit and help you with your fashion etiquette. 
 
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