Over the years, some traditions have been dropped or lost. Therefore it can be most confusing when you receive an invitation requesting the dress code of 'Black Tie' or 'White Tie'. Hopefully below I will be able to make things a little clearer for you........
Black Tie Events
With an invitation for an event that states Black Tie, the hosts are asking you to wear a dinner suit (DJ). You may find that if they are American they may refer to it as a tuxedo. Its easy, just think James Bond.
A dinner suit jacket is defined by its black grosgrain silk or satin facing (lapels) and covered buttons. Similarly, any trimmings should also be in either the silk grosgrain or satin. The suit itself can either be black or midnight blue. Although the majority will tend to wear black, historically either colour is acceptable and both are correct. Plain, patterned or textured cloth is totally up to yourself. Its all down to confidence and maybe daring to be different.
Traditionally the trousers should be of the same fabric as the jacket. Normally in a plain cloth with a silk or satin stripe or piping covering the edge of the outside seam. Although, modern versions do not always have the traditional stripe down the seam. Should you do choose to wear a less conventional more modern textured or patterned jacket, then plain trousers are essential as opposed to matching ones.
Shirts, on these occasions, are always white. A 'Black Tie' event shirt should have either a covered, fly front or dress stud option. These tend to be rather more elegant than shirts with the buttons on show. The shirts collar style is a personal preference. Both a full traditional or a wing collar style shirt are acceptable. Cuff links just add that finishing smartness on these occasions.
The bow tie or tie
Traditionally, bow ties are usually worn with a dinner suit. However, due to some of the younger celebrities, a modern dinner suit can also be worn with a tie. To keep it elegant, we would strongly suggest either should be in black. This rule especially applies if you are attending wedding or formal business function.
If the function is for charity or a school prom then the rules aren't as strict. Gentlemen can wear a bow tie or tie to co-ordinate with their partners outfit. Also, for example, we have found that a lot of 'Breast Cancer' related charities ask the gentlemen to wear pink bow ties for their events.
An ideal way to finish off the elegant black tie look is a pair of patent or Oxford type shoes. The only thing we ask is please, please, please always with socks!!!
White Tie Events
White Tie events these days are few and far between. Normally only worn for Royal affairs, Mason or Livery events or formal balls. This style of dressing has an extremely strict code. Think 'Downtown Abbey' or 'Fred Astaire'.
An evening tailcoat normally is made in a barathea wool. Not to be confused with the 'Morning suit tailcoat' worn for weddings. This tailcoat is cut short across at the waist at the front. Making it completely different to the beautiful curve of the traditional 'Morning suit tailcoat' design.
White tie evening trousers should always be made from the same fabric as your evening tails. The trouser should always have the traditional silk or satin stripe or piping covering the outside seam of the trouser. Braces are usually worn with an evening suit. As a result, wearing braces ensures that your trousers do not move or slip down during the evenings proceedings.
The white Marcella waistcoat (a fabric with a slight waffle texture into it) is one of the quintessential items of a White Tie outfit. Low cut with pearl buttons that traditionally are removeable for easy maintainence, keeping the waistcoat pure white in colour. The design is normally a backless waistcoat. Meaning that waistcoat style just has an adjustable strap at both the waist and the neck.
A white tie outfit is traditionally worn with a white Marcella dress stud shirt. The same fabric as the waistcoat. Dress studs can be either black or pearl. Cuff links are required for the double cuff shirt.
Marcella bow tie
This formal attire is always finished off with a matching white Marcella bow tie, hence the title of White Tie. This is normally made out of the same Marcella fabric used on both the waistcoat and shirt.
Traditionally patent or an Oxford style. Always in black. But, above all, ensure they are always worn with black socks for this kind of event.