#MYTatlerBall2016: Dissecting the ‘Black Tie’ dresscode
Just to clear the air once and for all, this is what constitutes ‘Black Tie’ so we can all look good in the many photos that will be taken on the night of our 27th anniversary Tatler Ball
The invites for our 27th anniversary Tatler Ball have gone out and some of you may already have decided what you’re going to wear.
Every year we are left excited to our toes to see what everyone shows up in – the gowns, the jewellery, the tuxedos never fail to leave us starry-eyed.
Every once in a while, however, we are left speechless (and not in a good way) when someone shows up in something not quite Black Tie-appropriate despite it being clearly stated on the invite.
Just to clear the air once and for all, this is what constitutes ‘Black Tie’ so we can all look good in the many photos that will be taken that night.
For the Gentlemen
What is ‘Black Tie’
Let’s start with the basics. The most commonly encountered formal evening wear, black tie is customarily worn only for events after 6pm. The must-haves are a dinner jacket, trousers, a white shirt, an optional waistcoat or cummerbund, dress socks, formal shoes and of course, a bowtie. (swipe left)
At its most traditional, the jacket (or the tuxedo) should be made of wool, has no vents and be black although midnight blue is fast becoming a popular choice. Velvet is also an alternative worth considering. Both single and double-breasted options are acceptable. For the lapels, both the peak and the shawl are fine but the peak is favoured if only for how it brings attention to and square out your shoulders. (swipe left)
Shirts with either the turn-down or the winged collars are fine but never the button-down collar. A white shirt is always a classic and fronts can either be plain, pleated or Marcella (just be careful should you choose the pleated variety, you don’t want to look like you’re wearing ruffles). The buttons should preferably be concealed in a fly front but these days, buttons that show are fairly acceptable. Make sure your shirt has double cuffs and we’d recommend to keep your cufflinks simple and elegant of the silver, black or white variety. (swipe left)
While optional these days, it only works in your favour to cover your waist with a waistcoat or cummerbund. It hides any untidy cloth from your shirt at the bottom and brings attention to your bowtie with the powerful V it leaves on your chest. Your legs are also lengthened, your waist tightened and your figure emphasised. (swipe left)
Steer away from clip-ons – if you’re old enough to be invited to a black tie event, you’re old enough to tie your own bowtie. True to the name, the colour should be black but in modern times, you’re allowed to experiment with colours so long as it is done tastefully. A beginner’s tip is to match the material of your bowtie to your jacket or the lapel, but by all means feel free to mix and match textures, again, as long as you do it with a healthy dose of caution. (swipe left)
For black tie events, pants should be single braided (characterised by a single trim of satin ribbon down the side of each leg). Run as far as you can from pleats and turn ups. It’s alright to have side pockets of course but make sure they’re so perfectly in line with the braids that you can’t tell. Oh, and did we mention you’re not supposed to wear belts? So you might wanna ensure your trousers are of the perfect fit. (swipe left)
Formal evening shoes should be your go-to for black tie events but black leather dress shoes are also acceptable, so long as they are well-polished or of a patent leather material. The shinier they are, the better. It goes without saying that you'll need to wear socks.
For the Ladies
Black-tie presents a lot more leeway for the women. You can never go wrong with a long evening dress or skirt. While it is fine to show off some skin with a high slit or a little décolletage, every host will always appreciate guests who stay classy, so don't overdo it. Keep accessories tasteful, like fine or costume jewellery; leave the tiaras at home. Match your dress with an elegant evening bag.
For some gown inspiration as we count down to the big day, check out who wore what last year.