With wedding season in full swing, you’ve received an invitation featuring that classic phrase: “Black Tie Optional”. For many guys, it’s a dress code that can be deceptively confusing - not to mention pricey. What if I’m under-dressed? Am I about to drop $600 on a tux? The truth is black tie optional is still a formal black tie dress code, but with slightly more casual exceptions.
The “optional” in Black Tie Optional means you’ll still be dressed in formal menswear – just not necessarily a traditional tuxedo. You can branch out into dark colored suits as well, preferably in shades of black, navy or charcoal. Dark suits with a subtle pattern can be a smart way to play with the dress code. To make things a little more interesting, you could try something like our Blue Plaid suit. Avoid light and vibrant colored suits and accessories, as they can read too casual for a Black Tie Optional event.
Black Tie Optional allows some wiggle room for men who might not feel comfortable dressed to the nines, or can't afford to buy a new tux when they already have a black suit sitting at home. Black Tie Optional is a nice way for the host of a wedding, gala, or high end event to indirectly say to guests, “Come looking your best, but don’t go crazy.” On the other hand, Black Tie Optional can be a great opportunity to invest in a well fitting tuxedo. There’s nothing better than feeling confident in how well you adhered to a dress code. If you haven’t seen yourself in a tuxedo yet I encourage you to stop by State and Liberty and see how sophisticated you’ll look in one of our athletic fit tuxedos.
In Black Tie Optional attire, accessories play a major role in checking the boxes for a formal dress code. Traditionally, in Black Tie dress code, a white or black bow tie with a tuxedo shirt and cufflinks is expected. Black Tie Optional, on the other hand, leaves more room for interpretation when it comes to accessorizing. It’s acceptable to wear a normal dress shirt, instead of a tuxedo shirt - but stick to white in both scenarios. Also, feel free to experiment with different colored ties, bow ties, and pocket squares instead of just the classic black or white staples.
Shoes and belts are also open to interpretation. We like to recommend that you match the color of the shoes and belt to the color of the buttons on your blazer. For example, if you're wearing one of our Heathered Navy suits that comes with brown buttons and stitching, we recommend you find a matching dark brown leather belt and dress shoes – save the nice leather sneakers for a cocktail attire event.
Next time you’re invited to a Black Tie Optional event, keep these basic guidelines in mind when putting together an outfit. Remember, have some fun with accessorizing, but avoid light and bright colors. Last but not least, have fun! The point of dressing up in formalwear is to look and feel your best at the moments worth celebrating.
SHOP STATE & LIBERTY FORMALWEAR