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What to Wear to a Black Tie Wedding

Check out some of our favorite attire options for men and women and what to keep in mind when selecting your attire for a black tie wedding.
Elena Donovan Mauer the knot
by Elena Donovan Mauer
Elena Donovan Mauer the knot
Elena Donovan Mauer
Wedding Planning Expert
  • Elena creates content for a variety of print and digital publications, including The Knot, The Bump, Parents, Real Simple, and Good Housekeeping.
  • Elena is a former weddings editor, having held positions at Modern Bride and Bridal Guide and contributed to The Knot Ultimate Wedding Lookbook.
  • Elena is currently Senior Editor for Happify Health, an adjunct instructor for Pace University, a freelance writer, and content con...
Updated May 20, 2020
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If you've received an invitation to a black tie wedding, know that the event is going to be fancy. In fact, the only dress code more formal than black tie is white tie, which is Oscars caliber and not exactly common. So what do you wear to a black tie wedding?

For men, the answer is simple: a tuxedo, literally with a black tie. If he doesn't own one, he should rent one, complete with a cummerbund and patent leather or other formal shoes. If the invitation says "black tie optional," he can wear a tux but can also opt for a dark suit with a dark tie instead. If it says "creative black tie," he can go a little wilder with color and style while keeping his attire formal.

For women, the rules are less rigid. As a black tie wedding guest, you can't go wrong with a long formal gown. And you might want to go for it, since we don't get many opportunities to wear one. But if you're more interested in a shorter cocktail dress, that's okay too, but be sure there's a glamorous note to it, perhaps some sparkly beads or gold embellishments. Black is a no-fail dress color for a black tie wedding guest dress, but jewel tones, metallics and other dark or vibrant hues can work well too. You too may want to rent from a service such as Rent the Runway, since formal gowns can be pricey. Dramatic or upscale jewelry is appropriate. Feel free to style your hair in an elegant updo, though it's not required.

Now that you know the basics, check out some of our favorite black tie wedding attire for both men and women.

(And psst...through The Knot, couples can offer their guests a 20 percent discount code for Rent the Runway. Just head to your Wedding Website dashboard—or create one—to redeem.)

Women's Attire for a Black Tie Wedding

red floral one shoulder slate & willow dress

Black tie wedding attire gives you the chance to feel like a princess. Here, a gorgeous red floral print forms an asymmetrical neckline that flows into a full skirt.

Slate & Willow Simonetta gown, from $80,

Dress The Population Alicia Frayed A-Line Dress

An LBD can work for a formal affair if dressed up with some statement jewelry and fancy shoes.

Dress the Population Alicia frayed A-line dress, $198,

BCBG light pink andi lace dress

Black tie wedding women's attire gets a bohemian twist in this ethereal lace stunner.

BCBG Max Azria Andi lace dress, $398,

Alex Evenings sequined A-line midi dress and jacket

If you want extra coverage, a pretty jacket works well for a black tie affair. A touch of sparkle keeps it formal.

Alex Evenings sequined A-line midi dress and jacket, $189,

ML Monique Lhuillier  Green Floral Lace Gown

The allover lace and unique green hue of this black tie wedding guest dress makes it a head turner.

ML Monique Lhuillier green floral lace gown, from $55,

anthropologie pink convertible maxi dress

This unique maxi can convert from a strapless to a halter to a criss-cross neckline—15-plus styles total—making it the rare black tie dress you'll wear more than once.

BHLDN Ginger convertible maxi dress, $310,

asos slinky twist front midi dress

A long-sleeve dress that exudes glamour is ideal black tie wedding women's attire.

Boohoo slinky twist front midi dress, $35,

womens little black tux

Women can go literal "black tie" too—and we're big fans of this look.

Little Black Tux black peak lapel long tuxedo jacket, $149,; black ultra slim fit tuxedo pants, $99,

mulberry cape gown

We can't decide whether it's the rich berry color or the unique attached cape that makes this gown a standout—but it sure is one!

Halston Heritage Dahlia cape gown, $50,

R & M Richards petite sequined gown

Black tie wedding women's attire allows you to go as sparkly as you want.

R & M Richards petite sequined gown, $149,

 Express strappy cutout fit-and-flare maxi dress

With its sexy but still modest cutouts, this pretty maroon gown has a youthful feel.

Express strappy cutout fit-and-flare maxi dress, $98,

marchesa notte gold floral gown

Roll out the red carpet! Gold floral details and a pretty trumpet skirt of tulle make this gown suitable for the most formal affair.

Marchesa Notte falling roses gown, from $110,

Alice + Olivia Arora embellished cape-sleeve gown

A pretty gray-blue shade and cap sleeves add subtlety to a gown with allover sequins and a sky-high slit.

Alice + Olivia Arora embellished cape-sleeve gown, $995,

blue cap-sleeve dupioni full-length dress

Luxurious dupioni and a gathered A-line skirt exude formality in this black tie wedding guest dress.

Alfred Sung cap-sleeve dupioni full-length dress, from $230,

fuschia ruffle gown

Bright fuchsia adds a pop of color to this black tie wedding dress. We love that it's available in straight, petite, long and plus size.

Carmen Marc Valvo fuchsia ruffle gown, from $90,

Men's Attire for a Black Tie Wedding

boss tri fit wool tuxedo

A slim-fit tuxedo with silk notch lapels is a modern look for black tie wedding men's attire.

Boss the start/glamour trim fit wool tuxedo, $895,

mercantile silk bow tie jcrew

While any formal black necktie fits the dress code, he can't go wrong with a classic silk bow.

J.Crew mercantile silk bow tie, $25,

modern tool tuxedo jacket

If the crowd isn't overly stuffy, he should be able to get away with a navy tux, if he'd prefer.

Saks Fifth Avenue modern wool tuxedo jacket, $798,

express classic fit twill tuxedo dress shirt

A classic-fit shirt is a no-fuss, no-fail look to coordinate with his tuxedo.

Express classic-fit twill tuxedo dress shirt, $70,

Brooks Brothers Regent Fit plaid tuxedo jacket

Black tie optional and creative black tie dress codes may give a little more leeway for choosing a plaid tuxedo.

Brooks Brothers regent fit plaid tuxedo jacket, $598,

ASOS PLUS slim tuxedo suit jacket in Black

This sleek tux jacket is available in sizes to fit bigger and taller men.

ASOS PLUS slim tuxedo suit jacket in black, $135,

Ludlow slim-fit tuxedo pant in Italian wool

These tuxedo pants are such perfect black tie wedding men's attire, that once he tries them on, he's going to want to buy, not rent.

J.Crew Ludlow slim-fit tuxedo pant in Italian wool, $265,

Regent Fit ten-pleat tennis collar tuxedo shirt

He's going to need a handsome pair of cuff links to go with this pleated shirt, which pairs perfectly with a tuxedo jacket with a classic-style lapel.

Brooks Brothers regent fit ten-pleat tennis collar tuxedo shirt, $135,

Florsheim Kingston patent leather plain toe oxfords

Patent leather oxfords make perfect black tie wedding men's shoes.

Florsheim Kingston patent leather plain toe oxfords, $140,

BLACK by Vera Wang black notch lapel

A notch lapel give this tux the feel of a suit jacket while still being formal enough for a black tie wedding guest to wear.

BLACK by Vera Wang black notch lapel, $230,

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