What to Wear to a Black Tie Wedding
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.
Women's Attire for a Black Tie Wedding
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, RenttheRunway.com
An LBD can work for a formal affair if dressed up with some statement jewelry and fancy shoes.
Black tie wedding women's attire gets a bohemian twist in this ethereal lace stunner.
BCBG Max Azria Andi lace dress, $398, BCBG.com
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, Macys.com
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, RenttheRunway.com
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, Anthropologie.com
A long-sleeve dress that exudes glamour is ideal black tie wedding women's attire.
Boohoo slinky twist front midi dress, $35, US.ASOS.com
Women can go literal "black tie" too—and we're big fans of this look.
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, RenttheRunway.com
Black tie wedding women's attire allows you to go as sparkly as you want.
R & M Richards petite sequined gown, $149, Macys.com
With its sexy but still modest cutouts, this pretty maroon gown has a youthful feel.
Express strappy cutout fit-and-flare maxi dress, $98, Express.com
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, RenttheRunway.com
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, AliceandOlivia.com
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, Nordstrom.com
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, RenttheRunway.com
Men's Attire for a Black Tie Wedding
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, Nordstrom.com
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, JCrew.com
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, SaksFifthAvenue.com
A classic-fit shirt is a no-fuss, no-fail look to coordinate with his tuxedo.
Express classic-fit twill tuxedo dress shirt, $70, Express.com
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, BrooksBrothers.com
This sleek tux jacket is available in sizes to fit bigger and taller men.
ASOS PLUS slim tuxedo suit jacket in black, $135, US.ASOS.com
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, JCrew.com
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, BrooksBrothers.com
Patent leather oxfords make perfect black tie wedding men's shoes.
Florsheim Kingston patent leather plain toe oxfords, $140, Macys.com
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, Tuxedo.MensWearhouse.com