It’s that time of year again…when men and women start to panic, asking, “What do they mean by Black Tie?” I asked a Twitter friend, Rishi Chullani, the founder of Suit Up, Dress Up, to sum it up for those gearing up for the season’s celebrations. I added a few pictures from my Pinterest page to give you a holiday kick start.
Black Tie for Him
The requirement is a tuxedo, though there are always those that try and get away with wearing a dark suit and black tie.
A single breasted tuxedo with a notched lapel will flatter any body type, while a shawl lapel will compliment a leaner frame. A formal tuxedo shirt will typically have a pleated front (to the waist only, so that it doesn’t buckle when you sit down). The waist is always covered with either a cummerbund or waistcoat or double-breasted dinner jacket, which is never unbuttoned in public.
Trousers should always have a stripe up the outside leg on the seam of satin, silk or grosgrain (matching the facing of the jacket lapel). While tuxedo pants can be pleated, given the modern man’s inclination towards fitted jackets, for both suits and tuxedos, flat front pants would be the ideal option. And most importantly, no cuffs on your tuxedo pants.
Black Tie for Her
A black floor length dress is the standard for a Black Tie event. Some women may prefer a very dressy shorter dress and that should be left up to the discretion of the host, the formality of the venue and personal taste. Black tie events embody the concept of subtle elegance and dressing conservatively will always boost your standing at a black tie event. Sparkly earrings and a rhinestone bracelet will look fabulous with your dress of choice.
Cocktail Attire for Him
Cocktails, by definition, are a notch down from a black tie event. Cocktail party attendees will typically wear a suit with a tie; dark colored suits are the standard for cocktail attire. Shirt color should typically be white or of a lighter color, and it is best to go with a solid color tie at a cocktail event. Leave the more whimsical stuff for the festive family parties where you can accessorize, mix and match with a greater degree of freedom.
When the cocktail party is more formal, a pocket square is traditionally worn. Contrary to popular belief, the color of the pocket square should not be identical to the tie, but rather, should contrast. If you’re sporting a navy blue tie, try a burgundy colored pocket square. Socks should be long and dark, and don’t overlook a good shoe polish.
Cocktail Attire for Her
Cocktail dresses are generally knee length dresses that range from just above the knee to just under the knee. Cocktail attire can be worn in any fabric, though it is best to match the fabric to the nature of the party. Darker colors such as silk and satin give off a more formal look. The primary goal of your cocktail dress is to have fun and flatter your body; combine your dress with a small evening bag that compliments your look.
Festive Attire for Him
This is a time to have fun with your wardrobe. While Black Tie events and Cocktail parties are great to dress up for, there is nothing like ‘Festive’ which encourages the guest to dress in a more creative, yet stylish way. Draw inspiration from the season and dress to impress. Wear a knitted or woolen olive green tie under a burgundy sweater, throw on a pair of slacks, and you will look “GQ” before you can say ‘Merry Christmas’.
Festive Attire for Her
Given that this is the most casual of the choices mentioned, feel free to express your holiday style in a beautiful way. Dressing in a sequin or beaded party dress will definitely bring the party to life.
Many thanks Rishi for your holiday tips.