What Not to Wear to a Black Tie Event – All Tips & Advice

What not to wear to a black tie event - faverie

Imagine that you have just come back from the mailbox and discovered that the long-awaited invitation to your childhood best friend’s wedding invitation has just arrived. When you open it, you find out it is to be a black-tie wedding in a cathedral.

On the other hand, you may have been pinching pennies so that you could go to the black-tie gala being sponsored by your alma mater or your favorite nonprofit.

Now, panic sets in as you have no idea what to wear to a black-tie event. Before you worry about what to wear, let’s look at what not to wear to a black-tie event. When you get a handle on what not to wear, you will find it much easier to pick out the right outfit. 

Black tie event fundamentals

Did you just get your mail and discover that you were invited to a black-tie event. Before you panic and decide to decline the invitation, let’s look at what you should wear to a black-tie event. 

We will also take a quick look at the history of black-tie events and determine different times in your life when you might be invited to one. Understanding these details can help you understand why people plan black-tie events and help you feel more comfortable about dressing for one.

I have a good friend who used to automatically turns down an invitation to a black-tie event. Then, we discussed the benefits of attending these events. Often, you get top-quality food for nothing, and if you are a drinker, there may be an open bar. You also get to celebrate monumental occasions with your friends. 

When he started looking at it this way, he was more willing to attend black-tie events. He is still thankful that they do not come around very often, but at least he is willing to go. On the other hand, I wish they happened more because I like their formality.

What does the black tie dress code mean?

A black-tie event is a formal occasion occurring in the evening. Therefore, men and women are expected to wear formal clothes and do a super job of taking care of their hygiene. Before the 19th century, these events did not occur, so if you love to dress up, you can be very thankful you live in the 21st century.

Men must wear a black dinner jacket with matching trousers. I have an uncle who loves black-tie events because his knowledge of fashion is minimal, and this dress code is straightforward. Therefore, he does not have to worry about if what he is wearing is right.

Along with the dinner jacket and trousers, men should wear a pleated white shirt. The exception is if you are wearing a cummerbund. In that case, you should wear a plain white shirt. 

A few years ago, it was a requirement that the shirt has a wing collar, but that requirement has disappeared. I will go into more detail about the shirt and how to style it in a little bit.

Men should also wear formal black shoes. Narrow shoes with a round toe are an ideal choice.

Man posing dresssed black tie

While ladies may be able to get away with a cocktail dress, they should wear a long gown. With so many different choices, a black-tie event is a perfect time to have fun wearing your most formal gown with your dress shoes. 

I will have more to say on the subject a little later, but you will want to wear your hair in an updo. While men need to wear black and white, you can wear any color that you choose.

You also need to wear your high heels. The choice is up to you if you wear sandals or closed-toed shoes, so you have many options.

The history and origins of black tie

While European opera houses reserved a section of their seating for guests who were well dressed in cutaway coats with long stiff skirts, black tie clothes, especially men’s, find their origins in horseback riding in the early 1800s. The trend to dress like a country gentleman was started by King George III about 1760.

George “Beau” Brummell perfected the look while a man of modest means, Mr. Brummell, had high ambitions cultivated through a friendship with the Prince of Wales, who would become King George IV in 1820. 

Brummell statue street
Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Since Brummell did not have the money to compete with royalty, he went about changing the colorful outfits worn by them to too much drabber outfits. While royalty wore patterned waistcoats, Brummell convinced them that monochromatic waistcoats in dark colors were a much better choice. 

He also managed to convince royalty to trade in their frilled shirts for plain ones and instituted wearing starch linen neckcloths. He also convinced royalty, like his friend King George IV, that they needed to wear tailcoats to show off their physique. 

Yet, men of the high social class still wore light-colored pantaloons that were carefully tucked into tall riding boots.

Soon, the elite started wearing three different sets of clothing, which they referred to as undressed for the clothes they wore at home, half dressed for clothes they wore during daytime recreational pursuits, and full dress for the clothes that they wore to evening parties. 

Yet, they needed one more category as some evening events were much more formal than others. Brummell eventually convinced men that they needed to wear a dark blue or black tailcoat, white waistcoat, black pantaloons, or black knee breeches with silk stockings, white cravat, and thin shoes when going out in the evening to the fanciest clubs and dinners.

During the process, Brummell incurred massive debt. He eventually had to give up trying to hang with royalty. Afterward, the world’s elite class modified his dress code by lowering some of the white standards to black and morphing other ideas into a white dress code.

What does black tie wedding attire refer to?

Black-tie wedding attire refers to clothing worn to a formal wedding, which usually occurs after 6 o’clock. Men will want to wear a tuxedo, but they may or may not wear a cummerbund. Most women will opt for a long formal gown, but an upscale cocktail dress may be acceptable if it comes down at least to the middle of the calf.

If you have been invited to a black-tie wedding ceremony, then you may be wondering what to wear to a wedding. For men, it often looks like you are dressing for a funeral because you will want to wear a black tuxedo with a white shirt. 

The cummerbund is optional but will make your outfit appear more put together. You should also wear your black dress shoes and a black bow tie.

Women attending a black-tie wedding do not have the same concerns as their outfits do not look like they are trying to answer the question of what to wear to a funeral. Instead, they will want to wear their beautiful, full-length gowns. Options staying close to the body in a silky material are often viewed as the best choice.

As I stated earlier, women can also wear cocktail dresses that end at their mid-calf or lower. These dresses should be embellished with beads or other features to look more formal. Additionally, women opting for cocktail dresses will want to make sure they style their hair in an updo and wear their fanciest jewelry.

What type of events might have a black tie dress code?

There are many types of events besides weddings that might have a black-tie dress code. Balls and galas often have black-tie dress codes. You may also find this dress code at various events attended by the world’s elite. You can also find black-tie dinners hosted on cruise ships. Some quinceaneras and birthday parties may be black-tie events.

For example, Queen Charlotte’s Ball launches wealthy 16-and-17-year-olds into the world each year in the United Kingdom. While black tie was not the dress code of the first ball held in 1788 by King George III, it may have been one of the first places where black-tie attire was worn. While its roots do not go back nearly as far, a similar event, called le Bal des Débutantes, occurs annually in France.

Many types of balls also feature black-tie dress codes. One of them is the Culdwell Children Butterfly Ball, which raises over $1 million annually for United Kingdom disabled children. 

Another huge ball that could have a black-tie dress code is the Costume Institute (MET) Gala, which raises funds to cover the operating expenses of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Events attended by queens, kings, and presidents may be black-tie affairs, although some of them are white-tie affairs. For example, various black-tie dinners and other events are held annually in England to launch the thoroughbred racing season. These events, called the Royal Ascot, are often attended by the queen and her representatives.

Nonprofits often hold black-tie galas to help their fundraising efforts. The University of West Georgia has their Presidential Black Tie Gala annually. The Hermitage Gala is held by the Andrew Jackson Foundation each year. 

Alabama A&M University holds the Black-Tie Scholarship Gala regularly. Assuming you have deep enough pockets, you can often attend these galas, so if you love wearing black-tie outfits, be sure to consider them.

What’s black-tie gala attire?

A black-tie gala is a formal event often held for fundraising purposes by nonprofits, colleges, or political candidates. These events often include a meal and dancing. The main reason people go is to be seen by and socialize with influential individuals. These events often raise large amounts of money.

I already gave you a brief glimpse of some galas, but let’s dig a little deeper and see what happens at others. The San Francisco Ballet’s Opening Night Gala occurs each January starting at the city’s Beaux-Arts city hall, built in 1915.

Beaux arts city hall
Source: commons.wikimedia.org

There, guests are served dinner under the dome. Then, guests move across the street to the War Memorial Opera House to watch a special one-night-only performance before returning to city hall for socializing and drinks.

The Met Gala, also called the Costume Institute Gala, the Costume Institute Benefit, or the Met Ball occurs in New York City each May and is one of the most important fashion events of the year. 

The event occurs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. It opens with guests who are encouraged to wear costumes inspired by the opening of the institute’s fashion exhibit walking the red carpet and getting a private tour of the exhibition. Then, guests are treated to dinner and big-name entertainment.

Ireland Funds Annual National Gaa occurs annually in Washington D.C. This event includes many speeches by important political figures, like the president. The event also includes a dinner and dancing.

What’s black tie etiquette?

Black-tie events are formal events. Therefore, in addition to wearing the right clothes, it is essential to use your best manners. Your attention to detail begins before the event.

If you are invited to a black-tie event, then you should write your RSVP. It should be done in the third person. For example, you might write, “Mr. XYZ thanks Ms. ABC for the invitation to dinner on February 27, 2022, and has the pleasure of accepting.

Most dinners are served at long tables, although round tables can be used. You will probably find name cards on the table, and you should sit where your name appears and not attempt to move the name cards around. 

Many formal dinners have an equal number of men and women, and in that case, the men are expected to escort a woman to her seat. While women can be seated as soon as they get to the table, men should remain standing until the hostess sits down.

If you are a guy, then you should rise slightly out of your chair anytime the hostess stands up. Do not attempt to help the staff in any way with food handling or clean-up. You should expect multiple courses to be served, and you should never ask for seconds.

A demitasse usually occurs after a formal dinner. Men and women may be separated for this event, or everyone may be in one room. Someone will serve you as you mingle with other guests.

Entertainment often follows the demitasse. Usually, late-night snacks are served during the entertainment. After the event, the host and hostess may make a formal exit, and guests are expected to leave soon afterward. At smaller events, the host and hostess may say individual goodbyes.

What’s the difference between black tie formal and black tie optional?

Except for white-tie, black tie is the most formal dress code, and men are expected to dress in tuxedos or dinner jackets while women are expected to wear formal clothes, usually consisting of a full-length gown.

Woman full length pink gown

Black-tie-optional dress codes are a little less formal. Men can wear a formal black suit while it is more acceptable for women to wear a dress showing their ankles.

If you are going to a black-tie wedding and the dress code is black-tie-optional, then you can expect the bride and bridesmaids to be dressed in full-length gowns while the groom and his groomsmen will be dressed in tuxedos. 

If you are a guy, then you can wear a tuxedo or dark formal suit. Women can choose to wear a formal gown or a dress where their ankles show. She should still be wearing her best jewels and have her hair fixed in an updo.

Men can wear a formal suit to a black-tie-optional event. If you choose this option, then be sure that the suit jacket and the trousers match precisely. You still need to wear a white button-down shirt and a tie. Furthermore, you should wear dark-colored formal socks and formal dress shoes.

Women dressing for a black-tie-optional event can wear a gown, long cocktail-style dress, or a formal jumpsuit. Regardless of which option she chooses, she should wear formal dress shoes and up-style her hair. 

The jumpsuit or dress should have enough embellishments, including beading on it, that you would not wear to work or a casual dinner.

In this chapter, we have started to explore the black-tie dress code. In the next chapter, we will dig deeper into what not to wear to a black-tie event. As I have done in this chapter, I will look at concepts for men and women. Therefore, everyone will want to make sure they keep reading.

What NOT to wear to a black tie event?

In the last chapter, we looked at the definition of a black-tie dress code and how it is different from a black-tie-optional dress code. We also discussed black-tie events and took a special look at black-tie weddings.

While I indicated what you should wear several times, people will invariably show up at black-tie events without being appropriately dressed.

The other day, my friend texted me. She was mortified at what she was observing. She was at a big gala and said that the man ahead of her had on distressed jeans and was giving the greeter at the door a hard time because he would not let him in. 

The greeter finally got him out of the way, but the lady behind her in line had on a knee-length dress and was also being denied entry to the event.

Before you make the same mistakes, let’s look at what not to wear to a black-tie event.

What not to wear for women

Women should wear formal gowns, elegant jumpsuits, or dresses that come at least to mid-calf to black-tie events. Therefore, there are many clothes that women should leave in their closets when dressing for a black-tie event.

Mini Dresses

Even if the entertainer at the event is someone who typically performs in clubs, you should not wear a mini dress to a black-tie event. Any outfits ending above your knee are considered casual clothing, and a formal event is precisely the opposite.

Woman sitting sofa elegant

You will not want to embarrass yourself or those around you, including your host or hostess, by wearing anything that ends above mid-thigh. It does not matter if you wear thigh-high boots, so very little of your skin is showing. You should not wear a mini dress to a black-tie event.


Jeans of all styles are inappropriate for black-tie events. It does not matter if they are distressed or not; they do not belong on formal occasions. I would also be very hesitant to wear a long gown made of denim to a black-tie event. Instead, opt for one made of shiny fabric, like pretty silk or rayon. 

Furthermore, it does not matter if your jeans are blue, red, black, or green. Leave them in your closet and take them out to wear when you are telling friends and family about the great time you had wearing your formal clothes at a black-tie event.

Revealing clothes

Even when choosing a long gown, be careful to select an option that adequately covers your body. Any options with long necklines that come down almost to your belly button are inappropriate. If your gown has thin straps across the shoulders, be sure that the dress offers enough support that it will not slip down and reveal your breasts. 

It is acceptable to wear a cold-shoulder dress or one with a revealing back if the dress is properly anchored so that it will stay in place. If you have any concerns, it is best to choose a different option because you do not want people talking about your wardrobe malfunction like they did Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction.


Blazers are not formal enough for black-tie events, even if you are attending as a representative of a company. It does not matter if it is structured or unstructured. There is no way that you will ever make it formal enough to wear to a black-tie event. 

Blazers are ideal for wearing to most offices and businesses. The clothes that you wear to work should not be worn on formal occasions. 

Wear a shawl with your long formal gown if you think you might get cold. If you are tempted to wear pantaloons or a jumpsuit that comes with a blazer, then you need to rethink your strategy because you are not going formal enough.


You will look very out of place wearing any sportswear to a black-tie event. Do not wear sneakers, shorts, hoodies, tracksuits, or any other type of athletic gear to a black-tie affair. Additionally, while you may pull your hair back in a ponytail while exercising, you need to fix your hair for a black-tie event. 

Since they can be nerve-wracking the first few times, consider wearing your sportswear to exercise before showering and getting dressed for the event, as exercise helps to reduce stress. If you have the guts to show up in sportswear, you will probably be asked to leave, so skip the hassle.


You may have a closetful of skirts and nice tops to wear with them. These garments should stay in your closet when you are dressing for a black-tie event as they will not be formal enough. 

It does not matter if they are long, knee-length, tea-length, or short, do not give them a second glace when choosing your outfit for a black-tie affair. The one possible exception is a long skirt that comes with a separate top made from a silky material that has some shine to it.


Even if the t-shirt comes from the organization holding the black-tie event, it is not the right choice to wear. T-shirts are perfect for casual dinners, but they are not formal enough to wear to a formal dinner. 

In addition, you would find it impossible to find a bottom that would be formal enough to wear to a black-tie event and casual enough to wear with a t-shirt. Therefore, you should save your t-shirts for occasions like picnics, classes, and hanging out with friends. 

For once, you really will not care that your favorite t-shirt is in the dirty clothes because you will not want to wear it anyway.


Bypass your trousers when getting dressed for a black-tie occasion. Instead, opt for a formal gown. Many women find trousers more comfortable to wear than any dress, but you will need to grit your teeth and survive a few hours wearing a formal gown. 

Put on your best smile, and you will soon be having a great time dining on scrumptious food and dancing the night away with friends. Your trousers will be there the next day and are an ideal choice to wear on most occasions when you are telling about the great time you had at the black-tie event.

Pullover tops

Unless the pullover top is part of your formal gown, you should not wear it to a black-tie event. There is no way you want to disrespect others you love attending a black-tie event with you, and that is what you would do if you wore a pullover top to a black-tie event. 

Even the ones made from shiny fabrics will not be formal enough. Instead, opt for a beautiful long formal. They are actually easier to wear anyway because you do not have to color-coordinate your outfit. You will impress your friends, at least for one day, with your fashion.

Short dresses

Black-tie events generally require a ball gown that touches the floor, although highly embellished jumpsuits and cocktail dresses may be acceptable in some cases. Any outfit that shows your legs above your ankles should be avoided, and this includes short dresses. 

Even black and other dark-colored dresses should be saved for a different occasion. Instead, enjoy getting dressed up for a special event in a full-length gown. You can choose any style. So if your legs are your strong suit, opt for choices that show them off, like those with slits where your legs peak out.

What not to wear for men

Men should wear a tuxedo to most black-tie events. Therefore, they should not wear their suit, even if it is black. They should definitely not wear their jeans and cowboy boots. There are lots of other things that guys should not wear to a black-tie event.


While part of many fundraising efforts is a golf tournament, when it comes time for their black-tie event, do not wear your polo shirt. You need to wear a button-down shirt under your tuxedo.

Man model posing polo buttons

A shirt with a wing-tip collar is considered more formal than a dress shirt, but both are acceptable. After all, if you were to choose a polo shirt, where are you going to put the cufflinks and button studs? 

Therefore, a tuxedo shirt with French cuffs is the ideal choice. Options with barrel cuffs are just too casual for black-tie events. You should also opt for alternatives requiring button studs to keep them closed.


Do not show up at a black-tie event in shorts. Your best dress shorts are not fancy enough, even if it is 100 degrees in the shade. Instead, you will need to wear tuxedo pants. While I will have more to say about this in a little bit, tuxedo pants have a strip of accent fabric, often in the same color, down the side.

So it is easy for everyone to tell if you try to wear suit pants with your tuxedo. And, you do not want people having negative thoughts about you. Now, go to your room and take off your shorts because they simply will not do.

Open toe shoes

No, you cannot wear your open-toe shoes to a black-tie event and look stylish. Do not even glance at your favorite pair of flip-flops. Even your closed-toed mules and boat shoes are simply going to have to stay at home. Instead, opt for shiny black shoes. 

Make sure that they match the color of your tuxedo. The shoe should have a short boxy heel, and the best choices have a square toe box. They should have short laces up the front. Black cap-toe oxfords can be a terrific choice but look for options that have cushioning in the footbed.


You will stand out like a sore thumb if you opt to wear a suit to a black-tie event, even if it is black. You should wear a tuxedo, and it should be black or a deep blue, which appears black under artificial light. If you are shopping online, you may see tuxedos referred to as dinner jackets if you are shopping at a United Kingdom site. 

They are the same thing. When choosing a tuxedo, look for one that comes with a cummerbund. Even if you decide not to wear it right now, you will have that option in the future because a classical tuxedo will not go out of style.

Sport coat

Sport coats are designed to be worn with non-matching trousers, which is never appropriate for a black-tie event. Furthermore, the cut of a sport coat makes it perfect for informal occasions, which is definitely not a black-tie event’s purpose. Even if you choose to wear tuxedo pants with their strip of alternative fabric down the side, you will not look appropriately dressed. 

This can be an embarrassment to you if you are single because you might meet the right life partner at the event, or you might meet your next potential employer who will not give you a second look because you do not know how to dress correctly.


There are several reasons you will not want to wear a blazer to a black-tie event. First, a tuxedo is made from shiny material, and it has a lovely sheen to it. Meanwhile, most blazers are made from more textured fabrics and lack shine. 

Like women’s blazers, men’s blazers do not have the same formal structure, so they hang loosely from your body. Blazers do not have any padding, so they just hang limply while dinner jackets stand upright on their own better, making you look sharper. 

You would also be guilty of not paying tribute to the garment’s history. Blazers were made for country bumpkins to wear, while tuxedos were made for royalty.


While your favorite jeans may be your go-to pants for every occasion, you should not wear them to a black-tie event. There is no way that you can make them formal enough. Trying to wear them may get you banned at the door, and you would not want that, so leave them at home. 

Instead, opt for tuxedo trousers. You will love the way that the silky fabric feels against your skin. You can also skip a load of laundry because your jeans will be clean the next time you want to wear them, and tuxedo pants must be dry cleaned.

Standard dress shirt

As I stated a little earlier, you should not wear a standard dress shirt with your tuxedo. Instead, you need to wear a tuxedo shirt with French cuffs and preferably a winged collar. The buttons on a regular dress shirt will look out of place because they are metal studs with covers on tuxedo shirts. 

You will have trouble attaching cufflinks to a standard dress shirt. Many regular dress shirts are made of soft materials, while a tuxedo shirt is made from stiffer fabric. Some dress shirts do not have the correct type of collar for a bow tie.

Dress trousers

You will not want to wear your dress pants to a black-tie event. I have already discussed the stripe going down the side of tuxedo pants, but that is not the only difference. Most dress trousers have belt loops, while tuxedo pants never have them. Some tuxedo pants have a silk strip at the top of them that is missing on dress trousers. 

If your tuxedo pants are not tailored, they are adjustable on the sides, while dress trousers count on the belt to hold them in place. Your tuxedo pants should be the same color as your jacket, so you will not want to mix and match.


Black-tie events require black clothing, so do not wear your khakis. Khakis are much too light in color to wear to a wedding, which is considered an insult to the bride as the light color may steal some of her spotlight. Even if you are not going to a black-tie wedding, they are still too light in color to wear to a black-tie affair.

Detail man legs khakis
Source: Redd on Unsplash

Additionally, the cut of khakis is very baggy, while tuxedo pants stay closer to your body. Khakis will also look out of place with your dark-colored dress shoes, as you should wear a casual shoe style with them.

Now, you know some of the things you should not wear to a black-tie event. I have tried to include ideas on what to wear instead of each one. In the next chapter, I will share some tips on what to wear to an occasion with a black-tie dress code.

Tips & advice for choosing what to wear to a black tie event

I have spent a lot of time discussing what not to wear to a black-tie event. Now, let’s turn our focus to things you should wear to a black-tie event. Focusing on these items will help ensure that you dress appropriately regardless of the black-tie occasion where you are heading, like an evening wedding, gala, or special party.

It also lets me start to end this post with a positive attitude, and I usually see the glass as half full instead of half empty. Keeping these tips in mind will ensure that the outfit you are thinking about wearing checks all the right boxes.

I just love using checklists. It is how I keep all my duties caught up. I often find when the pressure gets too great, I become a scattered brain and forget basic ideas. You can think of this tip list as a checklist that will help you get dressed correctly. 

While there is no guarantee, it may even eliminate enough problems ahead of time that you will be on time, but there is no guarantee of that. While I cannot cover every possibility, following the guidance in this checklist is a great way to ensure you do not pull any significant bloopers.

Read your invitation carefully

The first thing that you should do is make sure that you read the invitation correctly. It is effortless to skip over words when you are reading. Therefore, you should reread the invitation. There is a difference between black tie, black tie optional, and black tie creative. So be sure that you did not skip over a word. 

With black-tie optional, women can wear a cocktail dress while men can wear a structured suit coat. With black-tie creative, men and women can wear an elegant print, rich texture, or glittering fabric while still keeping their outfits very formal.

Tuxedo required

Most men will want to opt for a tuxedo for a black-tie event. If you do not have one, they are easily rented, and this helps ensure that you are wearing the latest style. Some men wear a dinner jacket and formal pants. But that outfit is harder to style because you must ensure that your jacket and pants match precisely. 

You also need to be sure that you are wearing flat-front pants. So do not assume that you can wear your dress trousers. You will want to keep the jacket on throughout the event. So be sure you choose one that is the right weight for the weather.

Select the right shirt and bow tie

You must wear a white shirt under your tuxedo jacket. Traditionally, the shirt would have a wing collar, and that is still the best choice. The best options are bib-front shirts. They ensure that your shirt looks star white under your black tuxedo because they have a double layer of fabric across the chest. 

The shirt should have French cuffs because you need to wear cufflinks, but I will have more to say about that in a little bit. You also need to wear a black bow tie. It must be black and match the fabric of your tuxedo.

Wear leather formal dress shoes

You should wear black leather dress shoes. Get bonus points if they have a shine to them. Make sure they are clean and polished. There are four styles of dress shoes that you can choose between to wear with your tuxedo. 

The first are court shoes, sometimes called opera pumps, and these shoes have a silk or grosgrain bow across the vamp. The second choice is your Oxfords, and these shoes lace up the front and have a low heel. 

The third choice is a Venetian loafer. These shoes have slotted straps and vamps, and they may have tassels. The last choice is the Prince Albert slippers. These shoes have a leather sole, but they may have a velvet upper.

Choose the right accessories

The only accessories that you should wear to a black-tie event are formal studs and cuff links. Choose studs that are subtle and elegant. Gold, platinum, and silver are all acceptable. You can choose options that match your personality if they look elegant. 

If you are selecting new ones, then consider mother of pearl options because they are appropriate in every scenario where you need to wear cuff links. You may also want to choose options made of the same material as your studs. While I highly recommended tux shirts with French sleeves earlier, if your tuxedo has single cuffs, then stick to the most elegant options.

Women should wear their best jewelry

This is the time to open the vault and get out your best jewelry. Diamonds are an ideal choice. Consider wearing a matching set of diamond earrings, a diamond bracelet, and a diamond ring. You can also wear real gold and silver pieces that are elegant.

Since this is a very formal event, your jewelry should stay close to your body. Therefore, stud earrings, small hoops, or short dangle earrings are outstanding choices. It is far better to wear too little jewelry than too much.

Woman portrait jewelry head

This is particularly true if your ball gown is eye-catching, as wearing too much can draw away from its elegance. Alternatively, if your dress is rather boring, then have fun with your jewelry.

Seriously consider a full-length gown

The most popular choice for women to wear to a black-tie event is a full-length gown, and it is usually the best choice for this type of formal affair. There is no expectation that your gown is black, but it is a beautiful choice if you want. 

Think about choosing a gown that does not have a plunging neckline, as they usually look a little casual for a black-tie event. You can choose one-shoulder or cold-shoulder options. Ensure that you can move comfortably in the dress, including sitting down for long periods, as many black-tie events include a multi-course meal.

Opt for Other Choices

While I strongly urge you to wear a full-length gown, there are other choices that you can wear. One of them is a formal cocktail dress in a dark or jewel tone. Stick to longer options so that only your ankles peek out underneath. 

You can also opt for a jumpsuit, but make sure that it is made of silk or another luxurious fabric. In this case, black is the best choice, but you can choose one-shoulder or cold-shoulder options. Make sure you wear elegant jewelry and up-style your hair. You should also wear your most formal dress shoes.

Wear heels

Black-tie events require you to wear your dressy heels. Stilettos are a prevalent choice, but you may find dress shoes with a block heel more comfortable to dance and walk in. If your gown has embellishments on it or sequins, neutral-colored shoes are the best option. 

Wear shoes in a solid color if your outfit sparkles or you run the risk of looking like a disco ball. Do not try to match your dress color. You will never come close enough. Therefore, you will end up clashing. Always make sure that your shoes are clean and well-polished.

In the next part, I will share some concluding thoughts and allow you to ask your questions, so please make sure to keep reading.


I hope you have enjoyed learning about what not to wear to a black-tie event and will use the checklist when picking out your gown or tuxedo.

If you have friends attending the event with you, share this post with them. Then, all of you will look fabulous, and no one will find their face plastered on social media for wearing an inappropriate outfit.

While you are waiting for the big day to arrive, check out our other fashion posts, as they are loaded with helpful information.

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