On invitations and for those going on a cruise it is not uncommon to see the words ‘Black Tie’, so we often get asked what is mean by this as there appears to be some confusion as to what a ‘Black Tie’ event is and what men should wear. If you think what James Bond would wear in the evening you won’t go far wrong.
‘Black Tie’ is a tradition short hand to mean eveningwear. So men should wear an evening suit and ladies and evening dress. It’s as straight forward as that, this is a formal event and requires special clothing.
The options for a man are as follows…
Evening Suit: Also known as a dinner suit or sometimes wrongly referred to as a Tux or Tuxedo. An evening suit is plain black and usually features satin lapels and a single black stripe down the trouser leg. These are available in single-breasted, double-breasted and shawl collar.
Tuxedo: This is a white version of the evening suit jacket and is worn with a black evening suit trouser. These are also available in single-breasted, double-breasted or with a shawl collar.
Shirt: Eveningwear requires an evening shirt. Evening shirts are usually white and have a pleated or Marcella (golf ball pattern) front although plain fronts are also acceptable. The buttons are either concealed or studs and the shirts have a double cuff so require cufflinks. The collar is either a standard shape or traditional wing collar. In recent years there has been a trend towards coloured evening shirts which are available in the same styles as the plain white.
Cufflinks: Any design is acceptable so here is an opportunity to show your individuality.
Bow Tie: Although the invitation says ‘black tie’ this actually means you should wear a bow tie which can be any colour or pattern although plain black is still the most common. Bow ties are usually ready tied and have a ribbon which goes around the collar and fastens with a clip behind the bow. In recent years there has been a trend toward more traditional tie-yourself bow ties. Most tie-yourself bows come with instructions which are fairly easy to follow but take some practice to get right.
Cummerbund: This is a pleated fabric that is worn over the trouser waistband and matches the bow tie. In recent years there has been resurgence in the wearing of cummerbunds.
Waistcoat: A traditional evening waistcoat is plain black and cut lower at the front than a daytime waistcoat. Once again coloured waistcoats are acceptable and if worn should match or compliment the bow tie.
Socks: Plain black
Shoes: Plain black or black patent.
Braces: Evening suit trousers do not usually have belt loops but feature adjustable buttons on the inside. You may find it more comfortable to wear them with braces which should be either plain black to match the jacket or white to match the shirt. Braces are worn over the shirt but under a waistcoat.
Carriages at Midnight
Finally if you see ‘Carriages at Midnight’ on your invitation this means the party ends at midnight so this is the time to book your taxi (carriage) home.