Dress to impress. Here’s what to wear to a black tie event in the big city.
Whether it’s a company party, charity gala, or a swanky New Year’s Eve ball, it’s not uncommon for New Yorkers to find themselves on the guest list for a black-tie affair. These events typically come with a strict dress code, which – understandably – can be intimidating to formal party newbies. Score an invite to the gala of the year? Here’s what to wear to a black tie event in the big city.
Black Tie for Men
This is a no-brainer. Even the dress code tells you what to wear (bowties are always a winner). Paired with a well-tailored tuxedo, a crisp white shirt and black tie are the first step towards channeling your inner James Bond.
Notch lapels are perfect for everyday suit jackets, but a black-tie event in New York gives you a chance to up your fashion game. Try a tuxedo jacket with a shawl lapel for a very fluid, old-world type of vibe. Or, for a more “Leonardo DiCaprio circa The Great Gatsby” look, go for a peaked lapel – a bold and stylish finish to any tux.
For shoes, make sure they’re black and pristine (no scuffs). Patent leather is a classic choice, and you can’t go wrong with a pair of black lace-up oxfords. If you prefer the ease of a slip-on style, velvet and suede also make for black-tie appropriate men’s shoes.
Aside from a black bowtie, you don’t need many accessories to complete your black-tie look. A silk or satin pocket square can add a touch of color; and a single designer watch can be enough to take a tuxedo to the next level.
Black tie for Women
Gowns and Dresses
For the most part, black-tie dress codes imply that women should be wearing full-length gowns. Alternatively, you may also opt for a full-length ball skirt with a formal top or blouse. If your closet is limited to cocktail dresses and you don’t have a chance to buy a new gown, be sure your shorter dress is dark or rich in color (black, emerald green, burgundy, etc.) And, no matter where your hemline falls, the most important thing is that your dress fits properly. A black-tie event is absolutely NOT the place for visible bra straps or too much cleavage.
Thankfully, going to a black-tie party doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a torturous evening standing around in stilettos. Feel free to wear a dressy pair of flats if sky-high pumps and strappy sandals aren’t your thing. (But no flip flops!)
You don’t actually need to wear a ton of bling to fit in with the crowd at a black-tie event. When in doubt, keep things classic – think strands of pearls, a crystal tennis bracelet, diamond stud earrings, or a cocktail ring. Jewelry is all about adding a finishing touch and creating balance. Depending on how minimal your dress is, a basic black gown looks stunning with a glittering statement necklace; and an embellished frock requires nothing more than a simple pendant. Also, when it comes to handbags, leave your oversized totes at home. Black-tie events call for elegant clutches or a small purse dangling daintily from the wrist.
Do you have any fancy events coming up? What’s your go-to ensemble for a black tie event?
Plus a fabulous New Year’s eve in New York.