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Black Tie Optional Wedding: What It Means and What to Wear

Wondering what to wear to a black tie optional wedding? We've got you covered. Check out some of our favorite selections and what to keep in mind when selecting your attire.
Black tie reception
Leigh Weingus
by Leigh Weingus
Updated May 20, 2020
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Wedding dress codes can get confusing, and "black tie optional" is a particularly tricky one. How fancy is it, exactly? Do men need to wear a tux? Should women opt for a floor-length gown? What does black tie optional mean, exactly?

It's actually simpler than it sounds: For a black tie optional wedding, men can wear a tuxedo, but it's not a requirement. If they end up going tuxedo-less, though, they should wear a formal dark suit and tie instead. Women can go the long evening gown route, but a dressy suit or shorter cocktail dress is fine too.

Still feeling stumped? No worries—we've got you covered. Whether you're looking to rent a dress from a service like Rent The Runway or you want to find a dress that you can wear to every black tie optional wedding in the foreseeable future, here are 10 black tie optional getups we're loving.

Nicole Miller oxblood pleated sweetheart dress

Going to a winter wedding? This oxblood-colored dress will wow all the guests at your black tie optional wedding.

Nicole Miller oxblood pleated sweetheart dress, $60-$90, RentTheRunway.com

Bardot Paris lace body-con dress

This dress may be on the shorter side, but its lace details make it a great choice for a black tie optional wedding. 

Bardot Paris lace body-con dress, $77-$129, Nordstrom.com

Elliat rust popover gown

If you're opting for full-on black tie, this classy, attention-grabbing gown is a great option. 

Elliat rust popover gown, $70, RentTheRunway.com

Reformation Gavin dress

This midi-length, cap-sleeve dress is perfect when you're looking for a pop of color and a fun print. 

Reformation Gavin dress, $218, Reformation.com

Lulus v-neck trumpet gown

This emerald floor-length gown is perfect for a black tie or black tie optional wedding. 

Lulus v-neck trumpet gown, $84, Nordstrom.com

Black jumpsuit

Yes, jumpsuits are definitely a thing at black tie optional weddings—and you can't go wrong this one. 

La Petite Robe di Chara Boni Rebecca jumpsuit, $100-$100, RentTheRunway.com

Roxy fringe dress

Swishy fringe and a whole lot of shimmer. What more could you want in a dress? 

Dress The Population Roxy fringe dress, $320, Nordstrom.com

High low floral dress

Stun in florals in this top-notch black tie optional dress.

Shoshana Paladina high low dress, $75-$105, RentTheRunway.com

Velvet mini dress

Wow your guests in velvet in this show-stopping dress option.

Dion Lee Grosgrain-trimmed velvet mini dress, $590, Netaporter.com

cobalt Marilyn gown

You can't go wrong with cobalt, as this stunning Allison Paris dress proves. 

Allison Paris cobalt Marilyn gown, $80-$110, RentTheRunway.com

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