When Black Tie Is Optional (and You Don’t Own A Tuxedo)

April 11, 2013

When Black Tie is Optional (and You Don’t Own a Tuxedo)

A friend of mine asked me last week for some advice on what to wear to a “black tie optional” event. He didn’t own a tuxedo and wasn’t planning on buying or renting one (plus, the event was days away). 

While I believe you should always wear an appropriate black tie outfit to “black tie optional” events, it’s bound to be impractical for most people who simply don’t have a tuxedo in their wardrobe. Ownership of such an ensemble isn’t for everyone and it’s not exactly cheap to put together for something most will rarely wear. 

So, what should you consider wearing instead? 

I suggested to my friend going with a solid, dark charcoal suit, a white spread collar shirt and a conservative dark necktie in either black, silver-grey or navy that had some satin-like shimmer to it for the evening.

Preferably, the shirt will have a French front, no pocket and French cuffs. Footwear would be a simple black calf balmoral, either captoe or wingtip, with dark socks. Of course, a TV-folded white linen pocket square to finish the look. 

The idea isn’t to replicate the tuxedo, but it is trying to mimic the simple neutral tones of black and white. The nice thing about this outfit is that you’ll hopefully have all these elements in your closet already and you can even wear this outfit to non black-tie optional events and look really great. 


(Image via The Suits of James Bond)