Dear ladies and gentlemen, you may receive an invitation nowadays which read white tie, black tie or cocktail dress code required. What does that mean? What are dos and don’ts of each type? Let’s review together!
It is the most formal dress code and not so common these days. White tie is specific at royal ceremonies, balls, state and livery dinners. Sometimes it’s specified for formal evening weddings or charity balls.
Dress: Full-length, formal evening dresses. It is traditional to show décolletage, not mandatory.
Gloves: Long ones are mandatory. An older woman in a sleeveless dress should wear gloves with a cap or short sleeves dress with gloves. Should be worn all the time, except for the dinner.
Jewelry: Can be striking. Finest jewels and gems, including tiaras.
Clutch: Evening bags should be small and elegant
Cover: Wear smart evening coat, cloak, pashmina or wrap in a suitable material.
High heels: Open or closed ones, but mandatory.
Shorter dresses or trousers, no matter how smart, are not acceptable.
It is incorrect for young girls to wear tiaras on any occasion.
Coat: 4- or 6-button black barathea wool tailcoat with satin-faced peak lapels. The tails hit at the back of the knee and the sleeves can be a touch shorter than you may be accustomed to.
Trousers: Black barathea wool with double satin braiding on outseams.
Waistcoat: Low-cut single-breasted in white piqué cotton with three buttons.
Tie: White piqué cotton self-tie bow tie.
Shirt: White cotton, double cuff wing collar with piqué bib and a tab to fasten to trousers.
Shoes: Black patent leather oxfords or opera pumps.
Optional: Shirt studs, white dress scarf, white dress gloves, white pocket square, black top hat, and, of course, cufflinks.
When indoor don’t forget to remove your hat.
Don’t miss a chance to take part in white tie event, you may lose the opportunity to look the best in your life.
Black Tie Attire
It is less formal than white tie. Used for formal dinners (public & private), parties and balls, or some seasonal events.
Dress / skirt: Long or at least below the knee. The dresses don’t need to be black.
Tights: Wear black or sheer ones.
Jewelry: Fine or costume one is appropriate.
Clutch: An elegant evening bag should be used.
Cover: If it is necessary, wear an evening coat as for white tie.
High heels: Open or closed ones, but mandatory
Do not wear tiaras or any decorations.
Do not wear extravagant dresses.
Avoid too tight dresses, you should not wear a sexy attire for this formality.
Bow tie: Black hand-tied one.
Shirt: White with regular collar and black eclipsed button.
Jacket: With silk facings.
Trousers: Black with a single row of braid down each outside leg.
Cummerbund: Black to cover the waist.
Shoes: Black polished.
Don’t over accessorize, watch and cufflinks are enough.
Don’t wear a clip on your tie, you have to tie it by yourself.
This type allows semi-formal look that fills the gap between casual day wear and formal evening attire and it is applied when having a cocktail party after work (business cocktail), afternoon parties or sports events on weekends (social cocktail) or for private events (weddings, anniversaries…)
Dress: Go for little black dress or midi dress with length not more than 5cm above the knees.
Skirt: Long and flounce skirt are recommended, graceful and light ones.
Shirt: A fluid and sophisticated shirt are possible.
T-Shirt: If you want to wear a t-shirt, chose the matching jacket or shawl to your attire.
Trousers: convenient but prefer to choose a light material, it will help to materialize sensually your shape.
High heels: Not mandatory but recommended.
Don’t wear sexy attire, not too slim, not too short.
Don’t choose casual fabrics like denim, jersey, chino, etc.
Don’t wear outward-looking colours like pink, flashy green, etc. Try to keep sober patterns.
Shirt: White or pastel colour (light blue, light pink)
Suit: Dark colours for the evening, lighter if afternoon. A different pattern is acceptable.
Tie: Recommended but not mandatory, it can be creative.
Cuff links and pocket squares: Non-essential but can spice up the outfit.
Belt: Must be the same colour as the shoes.
Shoes: Large range of choice amongst leather or suede shoes.
Socks: In case you wear them, match with trousers or something else in your outfit.
Leave your tuxedo at home, don’t be overdressed.
Never wear white socks, they are only for sport.
Don’t upstage the host, if you’re attending any occasion in which the spotlight is meant to be on someone specific, leave the bright colours and flashy accessories at home.
Dear all, I like to quote Coco Chanel when I talk about grooming: “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance”. Keep that in mind for your following events!
This article was first published by Michelin