While traditionally, an invite that stipulated a black tie dress code called for floor length ball gowns and sky high stilettos, fashion and modern elegance have taken a turn for the more casual - meaning navigating the dress code rules and regulations have, unfortunately, become even more confusing.
In saying that, think of this as a blessing in disguise! Your options of what you can wear are endless. (Just don't throw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, they aren't that endless). So, to ensure you put together the perfect black tie appropriate outfit, from top to bottom, take a look at our Top Tips for when it comes to nailing the black tie dress code and having as effortless elegance and etiquette as Prince Mary.
Belle of the Ball
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The classic of all dress codes, a black tie event calls for a show-stopping gown and your very best manners-minding etiquette. Classic styles in luxurious materials and rich colours make for the perfect black tie dress code appropriate gown. While black certainly is the easiest option to take, try and steer clear of the monochrome blandness and draw inspiration from a royal palette of rich emeralds, varying shades of merlot, and deep navy hues.
Floor length, figure hugging garments aren't for everyone, hence the convoluted rules and regulations behind the black tie dress code. If the classic, fit and flare silk-satin ball gowns aren't up your alley, turn to 1950s Dior styles for a black tie ready outfit. Look for a dress with contrasting shapes - tight up top, and full of volume below - for a more dramatic silhouette. Always ensure the hem-line falls below the knee, or better yet, opt for a dramatic graduating hemline (short in the front, long in the back) for a modern take on an old classic.
If you feel the event is an all-out-there black tie affair, stick to the classic shapes and styles. Look for bias cut dresses, cowl neck designs and corset shaped styles to err on the safer side. For a winter do, team the gown with an elegant shawl or a faux-fur jacket for a truely luxurious feel.
Image Source: Sunshine and Feeling Fine
Black tie dress codes don't always call for a red-carpet worthy ball gown. Depending on the event - location, time of day, and weather - will in fact have a large impact on what you wear. Day time or early evening black tie dress codes can edge towards the more casual side; meaning your outfit can too.
When it comes to maintaining the black tie dress code class, but at a slightly more casual level, our top tip is to look for a more modern style (read: materials, design and shape) and steer clear of the classic, luxurious materials that dictate an evening black tie affair. Think like Olivia Palermo and take some style cues from the years gone by; channel old world glamour mixed in with modern elegance and look for classic styles in embroidered or lace materials.
Here's where you can play with hem length, so don't be afraid to wear something ankle-grazing or just below the knee. However, avoid too many cut-outs and bare skin, this isn't a 21st birthday cocktail party. In saying that, don't shy away from modern styles; peek-a-boo gowns work well when balanced properly. Just remember to ooze effortless elegance. As long as your comfortable and feeling amazing, you've picked the right dress.
Keep it Classy
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When it comes to styling the entire look, keeping your accessories and hair neat, simple and classy is the best way to go. As the gown is set to be the main feature for the night, choosing an easy, out-of-the-way updo, or a classic side-swept-waves look will ensure your entire look is pulled together to a T.
Matching nails polish, shoes and your clutch can seem a little outdated, so don't be afraid to pair your gown with a statement bag or nail. Keeping your heels simple and stylish, however, will ensure the dress does all the talking and nothing detracts from its glamour.
For beauty advice, our Hot Hint is to balance the overall look with either a statement lip or eye - having both may make you appear overly done-up. Simply put, work with your dress: classic lines and shapes call for classic accessories, while modern materials and styles need something to complement their delicate design.