Spilling The Secrets On The Perfect Black Tie Mens Outfit

‘Black tie’ – perhaps the most feared dress code after ‘smart casual’, after all, what does black tie even mean, does it mean a literal black tie? Is it a suit? Do you need a cummerbund? What even is a cummerbund? The list of questions goes on. As we enter the Christmas party season the likelihood that you’ll be receiving a black-tie invitation in your inbox has increased exponentially, so here’s what you need to know to make sure you get it right. 

What should you wear to a black-tie event?

A black-tie outfit for men centres around a dinner suit. Now, depending on your knowledge of the dinner suit that may or may not be very helpful, so let’s break that down a little further.

You will need:

A dinner jacket
The most common and arguably most stylish form of dinner jacket is the tuxedo suit with its shawl lapel forming a deep V. Dinner jackets were traditionally in silk however wool barathea or even velvet has become the material of choice today. As for colour, you may feel that is obvious from the term black-tie, but the colour of the traditional black tie isn’t actually black, it’s midnight blue, a colour which can look even darker than black in certain lighting. As black tie has progressed people have experimented with different jacket colours including white, as an opposite to the traditional deep dark colour. Although white is still a little tricky to pull off if you decide to go with this option stick to black trousers and consider one with black lapels to add shape.   

A pair of trousers
When it comes to trousers so long as they are dark, well fitted and match your jacker then you’re set to go. Opt for a belt or braces depending on how much you wish to indulge and make sure that they don’t cling.

A shirt
A dress shirt is traditionally pleated with a winged collar and has space for cufflinks. They come with both white and black buttons and which you choose may depend on whether you want to wear a cummerbund or waistcoat with white buttons preferential for the latter. 


Often neglected, socks form an important role in black tie stopping your skin from showing when seated. Always opt for black unless you want to be a rebel and try something colourful. 

A pair of shoes
Black patent smart shoes sit well with a formal dinner suit, as do a pair of velvet slippers. 

A bow tie
You better start looking at how to tie a bowtie because a black tie bow tie should absolutely be hand-tied. Stick to the colour of your dinner jacket although colour deviation is acceptable so long as it isn’t white. 

A cummerbund
If you want to stay true to the traditional black-tie then wear a cummerbund to hide your waist and accentuate the V of your dinner jacket. 

A waistcoat
If you don’t fancy a cummerbund then a waistcoat can provide a similar solution. 

Black tie accessories

When it comes to accessories keep things simple, a dress watch, cufflinks and pocket square usually suffice and finish the whole look off with some classic aftershave and a clean swept-back hairstyle. 

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