Modern Black Tie Dress Code Rules That Every Man Needs to Know

From weddings to other special occasions, black tie dress codes will pop up — but for some men, the style rules can be confusing.

For starters, it’s easy to deduce that black tie means a fancy party with men in black bowties or long ties. Still, there are parameters other than just wearing a tie in the hue that the host has requested.

“Typically black tie means tuxedo; if it says black tie optional, then you can wear a suit with a tie. But if it says strictly black tie, it is always a tuxedo,” bespoke men’s formalwear designer Art Lewin shared with FN. With stores in Beverly Hills, Calif., and more locations, Lewin knows plenty about modern dressing. His clients include many NBA stars, as well as retired baller (and Oscar winner) Kobe Bryant, Sylvester Stallone and Ryan Seacrest.

Lewin added that it’s acceptable to wear traditional or double-breasted tuxedos with a peak lapel (edges point to shoulders) or notch lapel (the bottom of the collar and the top of the lapel align at 75- to 90-degree angles).

Age also factors into men’s preferences for formalwear. A slim cut is the trendiest silhouette for men, Lewin said. “The older people want a modern fit but not a slim cut.”

Below, Lewin shares more black tie styling tips for the modern man.

The Shoes

“Back in the day, you had to wear satin-finish tuxedo shoes. You don’t have to now. A polished slip-on shoe is just fine. Today, with the slimmer-cut tuxedos or suits, they’re more tapered at the ankle, so they are a bit higher than usual. With a tuxedo, it’s ideal to have a small break hitting the shoe — not too much showing the socks. Showing the socks is trending, but tuxedos are more formal.”

The Socks

“You have to have fun: A white and black polka dot or herringbone and solid is great.”

The Shirt

“The shirt color is traditional (white) and not wing-tipped — you rarely see that.”

The Pants

“The tuxedo stripe should be on the outseam; typically it’s a half-inch wide. Never wear a belt with tuxedo pants, but you can wear braces.”

The Accessories

“I think anytime you wear a tuxedo, you should wear a white pocket square.

What Not to Wear

“Cummerbunds haven’t been used in a while, so none. I prefer tuxedos with no vests because it makes you look more square. ”

How to Look Slimmer and Taller

“If the first button is placed lower on the jacket, it makes you look slimmer and taller. I’m 5 foot 8 inches and stocky, so I put my button lower. Visually, I appear taller.”

Below, an affordable and versatile shoe option for black tie events from Florsheim. The brand’s Corbetta bike toe slip-on features linings with breathable leather and a flexible insole that incorporates Florsheim’s Comfortechnology footbed with Suedetec, which enhances conditions for comfort and wearability.

Florsheim Slip-Ons



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