Black tie

Black tie is a semi-formal Western dress code for evening events, originating in British and American conventions for attire in the 19th century. In British English, the dress code is often referred to synecdochically by its principal element for men, the dinner suit or dinner jacket (sometime abbreviated to just a DJ). In American English, the equivalent term, tuxedo, is common. The dinner suit is a black, midnight blue or white two- or three-piece suit, distinguished by satin or grosgrain jacket lapels and similar stripes along the outseam of the trousers. It is worn with a white dress shirt with standing or turndown collar and link cuffs, a black bow tie, typically an evening waist coat or a cummerbund, and black patent leather dress shoes or court pumps.[1] Accessories may include a semi-formal homburg, bowler, or boater hat. For women, an evening gown or other fashionable evening attire may be worn.

The dinner jacket evolved in late 19th century out of the smoking jacket – originally 19th century informal evening wear without tails designated for more comfortable tobacco smoking – following the first documented example in 1865 of the then Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII (1841–1910). Thus in many non-English languages, it is known as a "smoking". In American English, its synonym "tuxedo" was derived from the town of Tuxedo Park in New York State, where it was first introduced in 1886 following the example of Europeans.

Traditionally worn only for events after 6 p.m., black tie is less formal than white tie but more formal than informal or business dress.[2] As semi-formal, black tie are worn for dinner parties (public, fraternities, private) and sometimes even to balls and weddings, although etiquette experts discourage wearing of black tie for weddings. Traditional semi-formal day wear equivalent is black lounge suit. Supplementary semi-formal alternatives may be accepted for black tie: military uniform (mess dress), religious clothing (such as cassock), folk costumes (such as highland dress), etc.

Reagan toasting 1981
Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan toasting in a dinner suit, i.e., a tuxedo with peak lapels, turnover collar dress shirt with double cuffs, and a black bowtie


Dinner jacket in the context of menswear first appeared in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland around 1887[3] and in the US around 1889.[4] In the 1960s it became associated in the United States with white or colored jackets specifically.[5]

Tuxedo in the context of menswear originated in the US around 1888.[6] It was named after Tuxedo Park, a Hudson Valley enclave for New York's social elite where it was often seen in its early years. The term was capitalized until the 1930s and traditionally referred only to a white jacket.[7] When the jacket was later paired with its own unique trousers and accessories in the 1900s the term began to be associated with the entire suit.[8]

In French, Italian, Catalan, Portuguese, German, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and other European languages the style is referred to with the pseudo-anglicism smoking (esmoquin). This generic colloquialism is a false friend deriving from its similarity with the 19th century smoking jacket. In French the dress code may also be called "cravate noire,"[9] a term that is sometimes adopted directly into English.[10]

The suit with accompanying accessories is sometimes nicknamed a penguin suit given its resemblance to the bird's black body and white chest. Other slang terms include monkey suit and, since 1918, soup and fish.[11][12][13]


Coctail party - 1936
Cocktail party – 1936

19th century: British origins

Dinner Jackets, 1898.
Illustration of British peaked lapel and shawl collar dinner jackets, 1898. As substitutes for tailcoats, dinner jackets were originally worn with full dress accessories, including white waist coat.

In the 1860s, the increasing popularity of outdoor activities among the middle and upper classes of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland led to a corresponding increase in the popularity of the casual lounge suit (standard suit in American English) as a country alternative to the more formal day wear that was traditionally worn in town. Men also sought a similar alternative to the formal evening tailcoat (then known as a "dress coat") worn every evening.[7]

The earliest record of a tailless coat being worn with evening wear is a 1865 midnight blue silk smoking jacket and matching trousers ordered by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII of the United Kingdom) from Savile Row tailors Henry Poole & Co.[14] Henry Poole never saw his design cross the Atlantic and be called a tuxedo over there; he died in 1876 leaving behind a powerful and well respected business to be run by his cousin Samuel Cundey. The jacket was tailored for use at Sandringham, the Prince's informal country estate and was described as a smoking jacket.[7]

Other accounts of the Prince's experimentation appear around 1885 variously referring to "a garment of many colours, such as was worn by our ancestors" and "short garments coming down to the waist and made on the model of the military men's jackets". The garment as we know it (suit jacket with tailcoat finishes) was first described around the same time and often associated with Cowes, a seaside resort in southern England and centre of British yachting that was closely associated with the Prince. It was originally intended for warm weather use but soon spread to informal or stag winter occasions. As it was simply an evening tailcoat substitute, it was worn with all the same accoutrements as the tailcoat, including the trousers.[15] As such, in these early days, black tie (in contrast to formal white tie) was considered informal.[16]

In the following decades of the Victorian era, the dinner jacket came into fashion as a less formal alternative for the tailcoat which men of the upper classes wore every evening. Thus it was worn with the standard accompaniments for the evening tailcoat at the time: matching trousers, white or black waistcoat, white bow tie, white detachable wing-collar formal shirt and black formal shoes. Lapels were often faced or edged in silk or satin in varying widths. Dinner jackets were considered from the first less formal than full dress (cutaway tailcoat) and etiquette guides declared it inappropriate for wear in mixed company.[17]

During the Edwardian era, the practice of wearing a black waistcoat and black bow tie with a dinner jacket became the convention, establishing the basis of the current black tie and white tie dress codes. The dinner jacket was also increasingly accepted at less formal evening occasions such as warm-weather gatherings or intimate dinners with friends.[18]

After the World War I, the dinner jacket became de facto evening wear, while the evening tailcoat was limited to extremely formal or ceremonial occasions. During this interwar period, double-breasted jackets, turndown-collar shirts and cummerbunds became popular for black tie evenings as did white and colored jackets in warm weather.[19][20] Since the early 21st century black tie is often referred to as being semi-formal.[21]

In the decades following the World War II, black tie became special occasion attire rather than standard evening wear. In the 1950s, colored and patterned jackets, cummerbunds and bow ties and narrow lapels became very popular; the 1960s and 1970s saw the color palette move from muted to bright day-glow and pastel, as well as ruffled-placket shirts as lapels got wider and piping was revived.[22][23][24] The 1980s and 1990s saw a return to nostalgic styles, with black jackets and trousers again becoming nearly universal. The 21st century has seen increased variation and a relaxation of previous strict standards; midnight blue once again became popular and lapel facings were sometimes reduced to wide edging.[25]

Introduction to the United States

Tuxedo or Dinner Jacket, 1888
1888 American tuxedo / dinner jacket, sometimes called a dress sack.

The earliest references to a dress coat substitute in America are from the summer and fall of 1886 and, like the British references from this time, vary between waist-length mess-jacket style and the conventional suit jacket style.[26] The most famous reference originates from Tuxedo Park, an upstate New York countryside enclave for Manhattan's wealthiest citizens. A son of one of the community's founders, Griswold Lorillard, and his friends were widely reported in society columns for showing up at the club's first Autumn Ball in October 1886 wearing "a tailless dress coat".[27] Although it is not known whether this garment was a mess jacket or a conventional dinner jacket, it no doubt cemented the tailcoat substitute's association with Tuxedo Park in the mind of the public.

An essay in the Tuxedo Park archives[28] attributes the jacket's importation to America to resident James Brown Potter, a merchant banker who had worked in London for Brown Brothers. However this claim for Potter cannot be verified through independent sources.[29] Period newspaper accounts indicate that at first the jacket was worn by young mavericks to gatherings considered strictly formal. This led the American establishment to reject it out of hand. It was only by 1888 that polite society accepted its role solely as a summer and informal evening substitute, at which point it became very popular.[30]

20th century: evolution

StateLibQld 1 106448 Celebrations at the Belle Vue Hotel, Brisbane, January 1940
Black tie worn at a dinner party in the 1940s.

The earliest dinner jackets were of the same black material as the dress coat with one, two or no buttons and a shawl collar faced in satin or ribbed silk. By the turn of the twentieth century the peaked lapel was equally popular and the one-button model had become standard. When trousers were sold with the jacket they were of the same material. Edwardian dandies often opted for Oxford grey or a very dark blue for their evening wear.[31]

By World War I, the grey option had fallen out of favour but the "midnight blue" alternative became increasingly popular and rivalled black by the mid 1930s. Notch lapels, imported from the ordinary business suit, were a brief vogue in the 1920s.[32] A single stripe of braid covering the outseam on each leg was an occasional variation at first, but became standard by the 1930s. At this time double-breasted jackets and white jackets became popular for wear in hot weather.[33]

Colour, texture and pattern became increasingly popular in warm-weather jackets in the 1950s.[34] In the 1960s, these variations became increasingly common regardless of season or climate. Notch lapels were once again a fad.[32] By the 1970s, mass-market retailers began offering white and coloured versions of the entire suit to its rental customers.[35][36] The 1980s vogue for nostalgic and retro styles returned evening wear to its black tone.[37] Notch lapels returned for good in the 1980s, and in the 1990s tuxedo jackets increasingly took on other traits of the business suit, such as two- and three-button styling, flap pockets, and centre vents. These trends have continued into the early 21st century, and midnight blue is now once again a popular alternative.[38]


Museo del Bicentenario - Traje de gala de Carlos Menem
The elements of gentleman's black tie.

The dinner suits's accompaniments have also evolved over time. The most traditional interpretations of these elements — dress shirt, low cut waistcoat (in the "V" or "U" shape), black bow tie, oxford dress shoes — are incorporated in the black tie dress code.

Unlike white tie, which is very strictly regulated, black tie ensembles can display more variation. More extensively, the traditional components for men are:

  • A dinner jacket (also called a tuxedo in the United States) of black or midnight blue wool (white may be used, traditionally associated with warmer climates) with silk jacket lapels and facings (usually grosgrain or satin) on a shawl lapel, peaked lapel or notched lapel (some fashion stylists and writers see notched lapels as less formal)[39] although they (like peaked and shawl) were used (though somewhat rarely) in some of the early forms of the garment.
  • Trousers with a single silk or satin braid covering the outer seams, uncuffed and worn with braces.
  • A black low-cut waistcoat or a cummerbund.
  • A white dress shirt (a marcella or pleated bib is traditional) with double (or "french") cuffs and a turndown collar. While the turndown is most appropriately semi-formal, the attached wing collar has been popular with American men since the 1980s. However, many style authorities argue that the attached version now typically offered is insubstantial with minuscule wings and inappropriately paired with soft pleated fronts.[40]
  • A black silk bow tie matching the lapel facings
  • Shirt studs and cufflinks. Some classic etiquette authorities limit studs to stiff-front marcella shirts only and prescribe pearl buttons for soft-front models instead.
  • A black evening waistcoat or cummerbund
  • Black dress stockings, usually of silk or fine wool
  • Black shoes — traditionally patent leather court shoes (pumps); now often highly polished or patent leather Oxford dress shoes instead (without brogueing).


Dinner Jacket cuff button detail
Covered cuff buttons on a dinner jacket.
Dinner Jacket Lapel Boutonnière
The peak lapel of a dinner jacket featuring a working buttonhole and silk grosgrain facings.

The original and most formal model of dinner jacket is the single-breasted model. The typical black tie jacket is single-breasted with one button only, with jetted (besom) pockets and is of black or midnight blue; usually of wool or a wool–mohair, or wool-polyester blend, although other materials, especially silk, are seen. Although other materials are used, the most appropriate and traditional for the dinner jacket are wool barathea or superfine herringbone.[2] Double breasted models are less common, but considered equally appropriate. Dinner jackets were commonly ventless before World War I, but today come ventless, with side vents, or with center vents. The ventless style is considered more formal, while the centre vent is the least formal. The lapels (traditionally pointed and shawl) are usually faced with silk in either a grosgrain or a satin weave, but can also be silk barathea. A notched lapel is not always considered to be appropriate for a dinner jacket.[41] However, according to the Black Tie Guide, the peaked lapel and shawl collar are equally authentic and correct.[39] The buttons should be covered in similarly coloured material to the main part of the jacket, which would ideally be either self-faced or covered with the same material as the lapels. Some higher-end single-breasted jackets, both new and vintage, tend to be fastened with a link front closure which is visually similar to a cufflink; this method of closure is still common in the United Kingdom.

The double-besomed jetted (slit) hip pocket is the only style understated enough to complement the dinner jacket. Flap pockets are not considered appropriate for formal attire's refined minimalism due to their busier and bulkier design and are simply an attempt by dinner jacket manufacturers to save money by using standard suit patterns (although sometimes they will trim the edges of a flap pocket so that the flap can be tucked in or removed if desired).Template:Sayswhio Besom welts can be of self fabric or trimmed with the lapel's silk facing, though classic menswear scholar Nicholas Antongiavanni suggests that for the English this latter touch "is a sure sign of hired clothes."[42] The dinner jacket should also have a welt breast pocket to hold a pocket handkerchief, which should generally be self-faced rather than covered with silk.

Dinner Jacket Link Front Closure
An example of a link front style closure of a dinner jacket, featuring silk grosgrain.

Emily Post, a resident of Tuxedo Park, New York, stated in 1909 that "[Tuxedos] can have lapels or be shawl-shaped, in either case they are to have facings of silk, satin or grosgrain." She later republished this statement in her 1922 book Etiquette, adding that only single-breasted jackets are appropriately called tuxedos.[43] There is a fashion movement suggesting that a man's appearance when wearing the wider and higher peak lapel is superior to the narrower notch lapel.[44]

Ken White dinner jacket
A white dinner jacket.

White dinner jackets are often worn in warm climates. They are ivory in color rather than pure white, and have self-faced lapels (i.e., made of the same fabric as the jacket) rather than silk-faced lapels. They are generally worn with the same types of shirts and accessories as black dinner jackets, though the turndown collar and cummerbund preferred to the wing collar or waistcoat. Similarly, the shawl lapel is more common in white dinner jackets. In the United Kingdom, the 20th-century etiquette was that white dinner jackets are never worn, even on the hottest day of summer, but are reserved for wear abroad.[45] Today, white dinner jackets are frequently seen at weddings, formal beach events, and high-school proms, in the United States and at some concerts (famously for instance the Last night of the proms) in the United Kingdom. In tropical climates, such as in Imperial Burma, desert fawn was historically used as the less formal color. At one time, the (civilian) mess jacket was also an option in warmer climates.

It is generally considered inappropriate for a man to remove his jacket during a formal social event, but when hot weather and humidity dictate, the ranking man (of the royal family, the guest of honor) may give men permission by noticeably taking off his jacket. In anticipated hot weather, Red Sea rig is specified in the invitation, although this dress is esoteric in civilian circles, and is particular to certain expatriate communities.

Black bow tie

Traditionally, the only neck wear appropriate is the black bow tie that is a self-tie and should always match the lapel facing of the dinner jacket and braiding of the trouser seams. The bow tie is tied using a common shoelace knot, which is also called the bow knot for that reason.


Black tie trousers with a side stripe.

Black tie trousers traditionally have no cuffs (turn-ups in British English) or belt loops. The outer seams are usually decorated with a single braid of silk or a material that matches or complements the lapel facing. Traditionally, braces (suspenders), hidden by the waistcoat, are used to support the trousers. Belts should not ever be worn with black tie trousers. Evening trousers can be flat-fronted or pleated today; pleats first coming into fashion in the 1930s. While flat-fronted trousers are more fashionable at present, pleated trousers may be considered more comfortable by men who have wider hips and a narrow waist.

Waist coverings

A waist covering should generally be worn as part of a black tie ensemble. Either a low cut waistcoat or cummerbund may be worn, but never both at the same time. Although the English authority Debrett's consider that wearing a waistcoat is smart, they no longer consider either waist covering to be essential.[46] The American authority, The Emily Post Institute, considers them to be an essential component of proper black tie attire.[43] Waist coverings shouldn't be matched to wedding theme colours.[47]

Black Tie Waistcoat Gold and Black Studs
Waistcoat with shawl collar, closed with studs.


A low cut waistcoat should be worn when wearing a single-breasted coat.[48] The waistcoat plays an important part in black tie's refined minimalism by helping to conceal its working parts by discreetly covering the trouser's exposed waistband and the shirt bosom's bottom edge. Waistcoasts come in the 'V' or rarer 'U' shape, in backless or fully backed versions, double or single breasted, with or without lapels. Single breasted styles typically have three buttons, and double breasted ones three or four rows. Before World War II, while black tie was still gaining acceptance, men would wear a white waistcoat, along with other details now associated primarily with white tie, such as stiff fronted shirts. However, this style, though increasingly viewed as an affectation, is still acceptable in the United States.The waistcoat should be made from either the same fabric as the dinner jacket (traditional) or the same silk as the jacket's lapels (popular). When a waistcoat has lapels, they should be faced in the same silk as those of the jacket; in this case it is considered more refined if the body is made from the same fabric as the jacket. The buttons may be self-faced or covered in the same silk as the lapels. Vintage waistcoats were sometimes closed with studs made from onyx or mother of pearl, which were often surrounded by a setting of silver or gold.

A waistcoat is never worn with a double breasted jacket. Since this style of jacket is never unbuttoned, the waist of the trousers is never exposed, and therefore does not need to be covered,[49] though before World War II an edge of waistcoat was often shown between the jacket and shirt.


Black ottoman silk cummerbund.

A cummerbund may be worn with a dinner jacket in lieu of a waistcoat and, although it is considered slightly less formal, it is equally correct. It looks especially well with a shawl collar dinner jacket but may be worn in conjunction with peak lapels. The material of the cummerbund should be silk satin, grosgrain (or faille), or barathea to match that of the bow tie. It features upward facing folds, which were originally used to store theatre or opera tickets, and are now considered to be more decorative than functional. Just like the waistcoat, cummerbunds are not worn with a double breasted jacket.[50]

As the cummerbund is seen as an extension of the trousers, traditionally it should the same colour, i.e. be black.[51] However, the Black Tie Guide endorses deep and rich colours as a tasteful way to introduce some colour into an outfit that is otherwise monochromatic.[52] Bright colours, such as those often worn by members of wedding parties, should be avoided[47] and the bow tie must remain black in any case. Some higher quality models feature a hidden pocket and an elastic loop to fasten to the trousers.


A modern attached wing collar (of the half-collar shape, with longer wings than a typical attached wing collar) and pre-tied bow tie

Dress shirts designed to be worn with black tie are sometimes called "tuxedo shirts" in American English.[53] Traditionally, the shirt is white, has a bibbed front that is either marcella or pleated, a turndown collar, and double (or "french") cuffs. In the early-20th century, a piqué shirt with a detachable wing collar and single cuffs such as is worn with white tie was used, and in the 1960s and 1970s ruffled bibs were popular, but neither styles are often seen today. The wing collar originally disappeared in black tie after the 1920s when the appropriately semi-formal attached turndown collar shirt became preferred, but it has been popular with American men in a less substantial, attached form since the 1980s. However, many style authorities argue that the wing collar should remain the domain of white tie for aesthetic reasons. Etiquette maven Miss Manners is one of those who feel that while the bow tie's uncovered band is fine in a white-on-white scheme, “gentlemen with their black ties exposed all around their necks look silly."[40]

Cufflinks and Studs
A vintage set of shirt studs and double-sided cufflinks with a smoke mother of pearl inlay in a gold setting.

Although some style authorities consider the wing collar to be an acceptable option for black tie shirts, they should not be worn with double cuffs or a pleated bib,[54] and are better suited to the more formal single-breasted peak lapel jacket.[40] They should feature a bib that is either marcella or starched and include stiff single cuffs (secured with cufflinks), made of the same fabric as the bib; this type of shirt is exactly the same as one worn with white tie attire.[55] The collar in this case should be tall and stiff, which may be attached or detachable. When a full dress shirt is worn in this fashion, it should be accompanied by the white marcella waistcoat ordinarily associated with white tie.[52] Wearing white tie accessories in this manner is considered by many to be an affectation. Debrett's do not endorse the wing collar as being compatible with the black tie dress code.[2]

The more formal marcella version of the shirt fastens with matching shirt studs. These are most commonly in silver or gold settings, featuring onyx or mother-of-pearl; various geometrical shapes are worn, e.g., circles (most common for studs), octagons, or rectangles (most common for cufflinks). There has been no consistent fashion preference for gold or silver, but studs with mother-of-pearl are more formal and therefore often associated with white tie. The soft-front pleated version of the shirt should be fastened with mother-of-pearl buttons, typically supplied with the shirt on a separate strip of fabric. Alternatively, a fly-front shirt, appropriate with both the marcella and pleated bibs, conceals the placket for a more minimalistic look.

There are several types of cufflinks that may be worn with black tie. The most formal and decorative are the double-panel type, which dress both sides of the cuff and are connected by a chain or link of metal; this model conceals the mechanism by which the cuff is secured. The most common, and least decorative, are the swivel bar type; while these are acceptable, they leave the inner side of the cuffs and mechanism exposed which is incongruous with formal dress.[56]

An oxford shoe in patent leather worn with evening dress or dinner dress.


The most formal and traditional shoes are patent leather opera pumps (court shoes) decorated with grosgrain bows. The more popular alternative currently is the black lace-up Oxford shoe, in patent leather or calfskin, with a rounded plain toe. Brogueing or any other decorative patterns should never be seen on Black Tie footwear.[57] Matte finish pumps are also seen. Shoes are almost invariably black and patent leather is considered more formal than matte finishes while pumps are considered more formal than lace-ups. Generally considered too informal for black tie are shoes with open lacing, such as the Derby shoe (bluchers in American English). Notable alternatives include the black button boot (primarily of historical interest only) and the monogrammed Albert slipper which was originally worn only at home. The black Gucci loafer in leather is also considered as an alternative, especially in urban British settings. Hosiery is black socks made from fine wool or silk.


Tuxedo details 2
Button hole flower with white pocket square.

Most etiquette and fashion guides of the current decade recommend keeping color touches and favoring a single color, usually dark; muted reds, such as maroon, are a traditional choice.

Handkerchief: A handkerchief in linen (traditional), silk, or cotton is usually worn in the breast pocket.[58] Although precedents for tasteful exceptions exist,[59] pocket squares are normally white,[2] and should not match the waist covering or bow tie.[60]

Boutonnière: A flower may be worn. Red and white carnation, blue cornflower, and rosebud have all been popular at times. In France, the boutonnière is usually a gardenia.[61]

Outerwear: Black tie events do not involve outerwear and coats and gloves are no longer considered part of the dress code. However, etiquette for what to wear in public in transit to and from black tie occasions was stiffer in earlier eras and remain an option: Matching overcoats are usually black, charcoal, or dark blue, and traditionally of the Chesterfield style. A guards coat was also once popular, and a lighter topcoat can be worn in summer. Historically, an Inverness coat was also worn. Until the mid-20th century, gloves and scarves were always worn, and are still occasionally seen in gray leather and white silk, respectively. White kid gloves have never been standard with black tie, remaining exclusive to white tie dress.

Hat: The 20th-century standard hat for black tie was a black (or midnight blue) Homburg in winter,[62][63] or straw boater in spring and summer.[64] Fedoras were originally regarded as too informal but have become more common recently. Top hats were originally worn with black tie, but had been reserved to white tie and morning dress from World War I. Black tie dress does not require a hat today.

Miniature medals with black tie
Miniature medals with black tie.

Decorations and orders: Military, civil, and organizational decorations are usually worn only to full dress events, generally of formal governmental or diplomatic significance.[65] Miniature orders and awards are typically worn on the left lapel of the jacket, and neck badges, breast stars, and sashes are worn according to country-specific or organizational regulations. Unlike in white tie, where decorations are always permitted, the dress code will usually give some indication when decorations are to be worn with black tie.[66]

Timepiece: Traditionally visible timepieces are not worn with formal evening dress, because timekeeping is not supposed to be considered a priority. Pocket watches are acceptable.[56]


Maria Grazia Cucinotta - nicogenin - 66ème Festival de Venise (Mostra) 2
An example of a black evening gown.

Women's dress for black tie occasions has varied greatly throughout the years; traditionally it was:

  • A dinner (ankle) or tea (below mid-calf) length sleeveless evening gown, often accompanied by:
  • Evening shoes

Other fashionable evening attire may be worn. Unlike the men's standard, the specifics of black tie for women are linked to whatever evening wear is currently in fashion.[67] Today ladies dress for black tie occasions covers a much wider level of formality ranging from just below the white tie standard[68] to something more informal such as a little black dress. Specifically it can also include:

  • Evening shoes and
  • A ballgown, evening gown or cocktail dress. Cocktail dresses may be long or moderately short and needn't be black.[2]
  • In England, evening trousers with a palazzo cut are another acceptable option.[2]
Yves St Laurent le smoking at deYoung Museum San Francisco
Examples of dinner suits for women (1960s) by Yves Saint Laurent in a M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, United States.

Still, while "black tie" dress code traditionally implies evening dress for women, in 1966 famous couturier Yves Saint Laurent[69] proposed Le Smoking, a dinner suit designed for women. Most initial reactions to the collection were negative. The designer took bits and pieces from both men's suit and women's clothing and combined it with new ideas. As this dinner suit was designed for women, it was different from the normal male dinner suit. The collar was more feminine, as the shape and curve were more subtle. The waistline of the blouse was narrowed to show the body shape, and pants were adjusted to help elongate the leg. It pioneered long, minimalist, androgynous styles for women, as well as the female use of power suits and the pantsuit in modern-day society. Some described Saint Laurent's initiative as empowerment of women by giving them the option to wear clothes that were normally worn by men with influence and power.[70][71] Fashion photography echoes the influence of this suit in shoots that feature androgynous models with slicked-back hair in a mannish three-piece suit, a style that was first popularised in photographs by Helmut Newton.[69][70] This suit has continued to influence fashion designers' collections through the 2000s.[71][72]

In practice, however, dinner suits designed for women have never achieved the popularity of evening gowns, as properly encouraged by dress code interpretators.

Social occasions

Royal Wedding Stockholm 2010-Konserthuset-06
Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel Westling arriving at the Riksdag's Black Tie Gala Performance on the eve of their wedding.

In traditional Western dress codes etiquette "black tie" is intended for adult men's evening wear. Traditionally, in the 20th century black tie (in contrast to formal white tie) was considered informal.[16] In the 21st century black tie is often referred to as being semi-formal.[21] However, some authorities now see black tie as potentially being formal dress. For example, according to Emily Post's Etiquette, when the dress code for an event starting at or after 6 o'clock in the evening is described as 'formal' with no further qualification, the invitee may choose to wear either black tie or a dark lounge suit with a tie.[73]

As a general rule, boys do not wear dinner jackets much before they are 15, or dress coat before they are about 18.[74]

Black tie is worn to private and public dinners, balls, and parties. At the more formal end of the social spectrum, it has to a large extent replaced the more formal white tie. The black tie code is sometimes classified as "semi-formal" in contrast to the "formal" white tie, or as "formal" in contrast to the "most formal" of white tie. Once more common, white tie dress code is now fairly rare, being reserved for only extremely formal occasions.[75] Black tie is traditionally worn only after six o'clock in the evening, or after sundown during winter months. Black tie's rough daytime equivalent is the stroller, which is less formal than morning dress because (as with black tie) it replaces the tailcoat with a lounge coat. Curiously, in opposition to the trend seen in evening dress, the less formal stroller is now extraordinarily rare, whereas morning dress is still relatively common.

The most popular uses of the dinner suit in the United States in the early 21st century are for balls, galas, proms, cruise ship dinners and weddings. In these circumstances the dinner suit's styling and accessories are most commonly chosen according to the wearer's tastes. Less popular are black tie events, such as gala fundraisers, where men typically wear more traditional dinner suits and accessories as dictated by the dress code. They are also often worn by male musicians at concerts.

Opera and ballet

Traditionally, black tie should be worn to the opera although a dark lounge suit is also now acceptable.[76][77] In the 21st century, many opera houses in the English-speaking world do not stipulate black tie. For example, neither the Royal Opera House nor the Sydney Opera House have a black tie dress code. Black tie is customary at English country house opera, such as during the summer Festival at Glyndebourne.[2]

Black tie should also be worn at a ballet or orchestra gala.

Cruise ship dinners

At formal dinners on cruise ships the dress code will typically be black tie although a dark lounge suit may be worn as a substitute.[78] In 2013 Cunard, noted for its adherence to formal dress codes, relaxed its dress standards.[79] As of 2015 Cunard requires one of a dinner jacket, a dark suit, formal national dress or military uniform for gentlemen diners on formal evenings.[80] Similarly, the luxury cruise liner, Seabourn, stipulates either a dinner suit or a dark business suit on formal evenings.[81]


Some university debating societies, such as at Oxford[82] and Durham[83] conduct at least some of their debates in black tie.[84] Learned societies, such as the Royal Aeronautical Society,[85] may also follow a similar practice.


Black tie worn at a wedding

In the last few decades, in place of the traditional white tie or morning dress, black tie has been increasingly seen in the United States at weddings. However, etiquette and clothing experts continue to discourage or condemn the wearing of black tie for weddings,[86] such as Emily Post (1872-1960) and Amy Vanderbilt (1908-1974), the latter arguing that "no man should ever be caught in a church in a tuxedo."

In the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe, although a minority accepts black tie at evening receptions, including some Jewish weddings,[87] it is seldom worn at church weddings or civil ceremonies where instead white tie, morning dress or a lounge suit is normally favoured. Supplementary alternatives includes local variations of white tie etiquette, such as highland dress in Scotland, if neither white tie noo black tie is preferred.


Audrey Hepburn and Ronald Reagan

President Ronald Reagan, Audrey Hepburn, and Robert Wolders at a private dinner for the Prince of Wales at the White house, Washington D.C., United States (1981) photo essay 080421-N-0696M-312

U.S. Navy Admiral Mike Mullen (in optional white semi-formal mess dress uniform) congratulates former British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the Atlantic Council of the United States Distinguished Leadership Award Gala (2008)


Actors Angelina Jolie, and Brad Pitt at the 81st Academy Awards (2009)

Anthony Bailey OBE GCSS (2012)

Anthony Bailey (with infrequent orders and medals) speaks at Faith in Sport Olympic Gala Dinner in London, United Kingdom (2012)

Flickr - DVIDSHUB - Armed Forces Full Honor Cordon and State Dinner for United Kingdom (Image 5 of 5)

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House (2012)

See also

  • BathingSuit1920s.jpg Fashion portal


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Further reading


  • Apparel Arts magazine, an account of 1930s fashion and style; some issues more relevant than others, such as those reproduced with comment at The London Lounge: Vol II. No. II and Vol I. No. III (numbering: London Lounge, not original)


  • Amies, Hardy (2013). The Englishman's Suit. London: Quartet Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7043-7169-9.
  • Antongiavanni, Nicholas (2006). The Suit: A Machiavellian Approach to Men's Style. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-089186-2.
  • Boyer, G. Bruce (2015). True Style: The History and Principles of Classic Menswear. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 9780465053995.
  • Donald, Elsie, ed. (1981). Debrett's Etiquette and Modern Manners. London: Debrett's Peerage Limited. ISBN 978-0-905649-43-6.
  • Flusser, Alan (2002). Dressing the Man: Mastering the art of Permanent Fashion. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-019144-3.
  • Flusser, Alan (2010). Style and the Man. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0061976155.
  • Hume, Lucy (2017). Debrett's Wedding Handbook. Debrett's Limited. ISBN 978-0-9929348-4-2.
  • Keers, Paul (1987). A Gentleman's Wardrobe: Classic Clothes and the Modern Man. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-79191-1.
  • Post, Anna; Post, Lizzie (2014). Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette (6 ed.). New York: The Emily Post Institute, Inc. ISBN 978-0-06-232610-2.
  • Post, Peggy; Post, Anna; Post, Lizzie; Post Senning, Daniel (2011). Emily Post's Etiquette. New York: The Emily Post Institute, Inc. ISBN 978-0-06-174023-7.
  • Roetzel, Bernhard (2009). Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion. Cambridge: Tandem Verlag GmbH. ISBN 978-3-8331-5270-2.
  • Schneider, Sven (2017). Black Tie & Tuxedo Guide (1 ed.). Saint Paul, Minnesota: Gentleman's Gazette LLC.
  • Storey, Nicholas (2008). History of Men's Fashion: What the Well-Dressed Man is Wearing. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84468-037-5.
  • Tuckerman, Nancy; Dunnan, Nancy (1995). The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette: 50th Anniversay Edition (1 ed.). New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. ISBN 978-0-385413428.
  • Wyse, Elizabeth (2015). Debrett's Handbook. Debrett's Limited. ISBN 978-0-9929348-1-1.


  • The Emily Post Institute provides a breakdown of traditional categories of progressing formality in dress for men & women.
  • Debrett's is the most prominent British authority on etiquette, which discusses the elements of black tie.
  • Life, Tailored have a guide for men on how to dress for any black tie event.
  • Pullman, Nigel. "Dress codes" (PDF). Livery Companies of the City of London. Retrieved 17 October 2018.

External links

  • Media related to Black tie at Wikimedia Commons
  • Media related to Tuxedoes at Wikimedia Commons
Black Tie (30 Rock)

"Black Tie" is the twelfth episode of the first season of the American television comedy series 30 Rock. It was directed by Don Scardino, and written by Kay Cannon and series creator Tina Fey. The episode originally aired on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in the United States on February 1, 2007. Guest stars in this episode include Kevin Brown, Grizz Chapman, Will Forte, April Lee Hernández, Paul Reubens, and Isabella Rossellini.

In the episode, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) attends a foreign prince's (Reubens) birthday party with her boss Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) and meets Jack's ex-wife (Rossellini). At the same time, Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) tries to convince Pete Hornberger (Scott Adsit) to cheat on his wife at a wild party while NBC page Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) encourages him not to.

"Black Tie" received generally positive reception from television critics. According to the Nielsen ratings system, the episode was watched by 5.7 million households during its original broadcast, and received a 2.9 rating/7 share among viewers in the 18–49 demographic.

Black Tie Affair

Black Tie Affair (April 1, 1986 – July 1, 2010) was a thoroughbred racehorse. Bred by American businessman Stephen D. Peskoff, he was out of the mare Hat Tab Girl and sired by Miswaki, who also sired Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Urban Sea and who was a two-time Leading broodmare sire in Great Britain & Ireland.

Black Tie Affair was brought to the United States, where he was kept as a yearling at Cynthia and Walter Reese's Timber Creek Farm in New Jersey. Reese trained the colt as a 2-year-old for Edward P. Sawyer of Hudson River Farm before Black Tie Affair was sold to Jeffrey Sullivan in 1989 for $125,000 as a three-year-old on the advice of trainer Ernie T. Poulos.

Black Tie Affair was a graded stakes race winner at two, three, four, and five and earned United States Horse of the Year in 1991 along with winning the Breeders' Cup Classic that year at Churchill Downs in a wire-to-wire victory over Twilight Agenda and Unbridled with Jerry Bailey aboard.

Black Tie Dinner

Black Tie Dinner is a formal charity dinner held each year in Dallas, Texas to raise money for the North Texas lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The first dinner was held in 1982. Since its inception, Black Tie Dinner has remained one of the largest LGBT fund-raising dinners in the nation, both in attendance and distribution. Today, the dinner is attended by approximately 3,000 guests per year, and has an annual distribution of over $1 Million. Each year, Black Tie Dinner selects up to 20 LGBT focused organizations in the North Texas area to receive proceeds from the dinner, in addition to one standing National beneficiary, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. To date, Black Tie Dinner has raised $21.5 million.Over the years, Black Tie Dinner has attracted an array of high-profile politicians, Hollywood celebrities, and other public figures; both as program entertainment and as attendees of the dinner. Examples include Debra Messing, Connie Britton, Goldie Hawn, Megan Mullally, Geena Davis, Sharon Stone, Martin Sheen and Lily Tomlin.

Black Tie Dinner is often mistaken for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) "gala" dinners which are held in many major cities around the nation. While the Human Rights Campaign Foundation receives approximately one half of the proceeds from the dinner, Black Tie Dinner, Inc. is an independent 501(c)3 organization with its own Board of Directors. Black Tie Dinner also has the distinction of benefiting local beneficiaries.The 35th Annual Black Tie Dinner was held October 1, 2016 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel. The sold-out event featured speeches by actresses Debra Messing and Connie Britton, and Olympic Gold medalist and LGBT activist Greg Louganis. Other entertainment line-up that evening included performances by Texas native Todrick Hall and multi-platinum recording artist and actress Deborah Cox.

Black Tie White Noise

Black Tie White Noise is the 18th studio album by David Bowie. Released in 1993, it was his first solo release in the 1990s and his first solo album in nearly six years, after spending time with his hard rock band Tin Machine, retiring his old hits on his Sound+Vision Tour, and marrying supermodel Iman. This album was an attempt to make "a new kind of melodic form of house" music and featured his old guitarist from the Ziggy Stardust era, Mick Ronson, who died of cancer 24 days after the album's release. This album was inspired by his own wedding and includes tracks such as "The Wedding" and its reprise at the end of the album as a song reflecting the occasion.

The album is commonly viewed as the start of an artistic renaissance for Bowie, whose creative enthusiasm and career had suffered in the mid-to-late 1980s after a series of poorly received projects.The album debuted at number one in the UK Albums Chart two weeks after its release, his last No. 1 UK album until The Next Day (2013).

Black Tie White Noise (song)

"Black Tie White Noise" is the title track from David Bowie's 1993 album of the same name. Featuring guest vocals by Al B. Sure!, it was released as a second single from the album in June 1993.

Black lounge suit

The black lounge suit (U.K.), stroller (U.S.), or Stresemann (Continental Europe), is a men's day attire semi-formal intermediate of a formal morning dress and an informal lounge suit; comprising grey striped or checked formal trousers, but distinguished by a conventional-length lounge jacket, single- or double-breasted in black, midnight blue or grey. This makes it largely identical to the formal morning dress from which it is derived, only having exchanged the morning coat with a suit jacket, yet with equivalent options otherwise, such as necktie or bowtie for neckwear, a waistcoat (typically black, grey, or buff), French cuffs dress shirt of optional collar type, and black dress shoes or dress boots. The correct hat would be a semi-formal homburg, bowler, or boater hat. Just as morning dress is considered the formal daytime equivalent of formal evening attire dress coat i e. white tie, so the stroller is considered the semi-formal daytime equivalent of the semi-formal evening attire dinner jacket i.e. black tie (also called tuxedo). Unlike other dress codes, there is no clear equivalent for women, though typical morning dress and cocktail dress have both been identified as alternatives.

For a semi-formal wedding day attire, the groom may dress in a dark-grey suit jacket with a dove-grey or buff waistcoat and optionally a wedding tie. For a semi-formal funeral day attire, the mourner may wear a matching black jacket and waistcoat presumably with black necktie.

Bring Me the Disco King

"Bring Me the Disco King" is a song written by David Bowie in the early 1990s. It was first recorded for Black Tie White Noise in 1993 and then for Earthling in 1997, but never made it to the final release of these albums. Nile Rodgers, who produced Black Tie White Noise with Bowie, would remember he wrote it as "a spoof on the whole disco thing from the seventies, one hundred and twenty bpm, very funny. But it just sounded too trite."In 2003, "Bring Me the Disco King" was recorded for the third time and then released on the album Reality. According to Bowie himself, "I stripped it down completely and just had Mike Garson playing piano. We did it at half the tempo as the original, and now it works brilliant. This poor little orphan Annie thing seems to have a home now." The track also features Matt Chamberlain on the drums.

Rejecting the raucous guitar-led assault of Reality's title track and the other songs, "Bring Me the Disco King" has a rhythm that often resembles samba, tango and mostly jazz, and according to Nicholas Pegg, "Initially seems incongruous, but its stately presence succeeds in binding the album together". In fact, literally the song is similar to the concept of the whole album, with Bowie reflecting on the past of his career and looking at his old age and his imminent death. As James E. Perone wrote, "The vague references suggest a look back at a lifetime of wasted moments. [...] The somewhat tired-sounding approach Bowie takes on the song works perfectly within the context of the album's focus on aging."


A cummerbund (Persian: کمربند‎, translit. kamarband) is a broad waist sash, usually pleated, which is often worn with single-breasted dinner jackets (or tuxedos). The cummerbund originated in ancient Persia, and was adopted by British military officers in colonial India, where they saw it worn by Indian men. It was adopted as an alternative to a waistcoat, and later spread to civilian use. The modern use of the cummerbund to Europeans is as a component of a traditional black tie event.

Formal wear

Formal wear, formal attire or full dress is the traditional Western dress code category applicable for the most formal occasions, such as weddings, christenings, confirmations, funerals, Easter and Christmas traditions, in addition to certain audiences, balls, and horse racing events. Formal attire is traditionally divided into formal day and evening attire; implying morning dress before 6 p.m., and white tie (dress coat) afterwards. Generally permitted other alternatives, though, are the most formal versions of ceremonial dresses (including court dresses, diplomatic uniforms and academic dresses), full dress uniforms, religious clothing, national costumes, and most rarely frock coats. In addition, formal attire may be instructed to be worn with official orders and medals.

With background in the 19th century, the protocol indicating particularly men's formal attire have remained virtually unchanged since the early 20th century, and remains observed so in certain settings influenced by Western culture: notably around Europe, the Americas, and Australia, as well as Japan. For women, although fundamental customs for ball gowns (and wedding gowns) likewise apply, changes in fashion have been more dynamic. Optional conventional headgear for men is the top hat, and for women picture hats etc. of a range of interpretations.

"Formal attire" being the most formal dress code, it is followed by semi-formal attire, equivalently based around daytime stroller, and evening black tie i.e. dinner suit (tuxedo), and evening gown for women. The lounge suit and cocktail dress in turn only comes after this level, associated with informal attire. Notably, if a level of flexibility is indicated (for example "uniform, morning coat or lounge suit", as seen to the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018), the host tend to wear the most formal interpretation of that dress code in order to save guests the embarrassment of out-dressing.

Since the most formal versions of national costumes are typically permitted as exceptions to the uniformity in Western formal dress code, conversely, since most cultures have at least intuitively applied some equivalent level of formality, the versatile framework of Western formal dress codes open to amalgation of international and local customs have influenced its competitiveness as international standard. From these social conventions derive in turn also the variants worn on related occasions of varying solemnity, such as formal political, diplomatic, and academic events, as well as certain parties including award ceremonies, high school proms, dance events, fraternal orders, etc.

Highland dress

The term Highland dress describes the traditional, regional dress of the Highlands and Isles of Scotland. It is often characterised by tartan (plaid in North America). Specific designs of shirt, jacket, bodice and headwear may also be worn along with clan badges and other devices indicating family and heritage.

Men's highland dress includes a kilt or trews of his clan tartan, along with either a tartan full plaid, fly plaid, or short belted plaid. Accessories may include a belt, sporran, sgian-dubh, knee-socks with a cuff known as kilt hose, garters, kilt pins and clan badges.

Women's highland dress is also based on the clan tartan, either that of her birth clan or, if married, that of her spouse's clan if she so chooses. Traditionally, women and girls do not wear kilts but may wear ankle-length tartan skirts, along with a colour-coordinated blouse and vest. A tartan earasaid, sash or tonnag (smaller shawl) may also be worn, usually pinned with a brooch, sometimes with a clan badge or other family or cultural motif.

Ghillies are thin, foldable turnshoes, now used mostly for indoor wear and dancing. The sole and uppers cut from one piece of leather, wrapped around the foot from the bottom, laced at the top, and seamed at the heel and toe. Ghillie brogues are thick-soled welted rand shoes. In both, the laces are wrapped around and tied firmly above the wearer's ankles so that the shoes do not get pulled off in the mud. The shoes lack tongues so the wearer's feet can dry more quickly in the typically damp Scottish weather.

Jump They Say

"Jump They Say" is a song by David Bowie from his album Black Tie White Noise. It was released as a first single from the album in March 1993. While Bowie opted not to tour for the Black Tie White Noise album, the song would feature on his 1995 Outside Tour.

Mess jacket

The mess jacket is a type of formal jacket that ends at the waist. It features either a non-fastening double breast cut or a single-breasted version that fastens. The jackets have shawl or peak lapels. Used in military mess dress, during the 1930s it became a popular alternative to the white dinner jacket in hot and tropical weather for black tie occasions. It also was prominently used, in single-breasted form, as part of the uniform for underclassmen at Eton College, leading to the alternate name Eton jacket. Its origin was a spencer, a tail-less adaptation of the tailcoat worn by both men and women during the Regency period.

Miracle Goodnight

"Miracle Goodnight" is a song from David Bowie's album Black Tie White Noise, and was released as the third single from the album in October 1993.

While the previous two singles from the album, "Jump They Say" and "Black Tie White Noise", covered issues such as mental illness and legal injustice, "Miracle Goodnight" features a more unabashed recurring theme of the album – Bowie's love for his new bride, Iman Abdulmajid. He declared the whole album "a wedding present" for Iman.Released as a single, the song also had a music video directed by Matthew Rolston, featuring Bowie unmoved by a harem of beautiful women while singing the song to camera, as well as scenes of him in a jester's outfit, playing with mirrors, dressed as a mime, and even returning briefly to his fashion style as the Thin White Duke from 1976. "Miracle Goodnight" had the usual plethora of remixes his recent multi-format singles had featured and reached No. 40 in the UK Singles Chart.

Real Cool World

"Real Cool World" is a song from the soundtrack of the film Cool World, performed by David Bowie. Released on 10 August 1992, it represented his first new solo material since Tin Machine dissolved.

The track marked a reunion with Let's Dance producer Nile Rodgers, with whom Bowie began working in the summer of 1992. The bulk of the tracks resulting from their collaboration were released on Bowie’s 1993 album Black Tie White Noise. ("Real Cool World" was included as a bonus track on some reissues of Black Tie White Noise).

"Real Cool World" was issued in a variety of mixes, and paired with a video of clips from Cool World, but was overall a rather low-key release, resulting in a UK chart showing of No. 53.

In March 2010, a digital download version of the single was announced for release in June 2010.

Semi-formal wear

In Western clothing semi-formal is a grouping of dress codes indicating the sort of clothes worn to events with a level of protocol between informal (e.g., lounge suit) and formal. In the modern era, the typical interpretation for men is black tie for evening wear and black lounge suit for day wear, correspended by evening dress or cocktail dress for women.Whether one would choose to wear morning or evening semi-formal has traditionally been defined by whether the event will commence before or after 6:00 p.m.

In addition, equivalent versions may be permitted of semi-formally applicable ceremonial dresses (including court dresses, diplomatic uniforms and academic dresses), full dress uniforms, religious clothing, and national costumes, and military mess dresses.

They Don't Wear Black Tie

Eles Não Usam Black-tie (internationally released as They Don't Wear Black Tie) is a 1981 Brazilian drama film directed by Leon Hirszman, based on Gianfrancesco Guarnieri's play of the same name.

Western dress codes

Western dress codes are dress codes in Western culture about what clothes are worn in what setting. Classifications are traditionally divided into formal attire (full dress), semi-formal attire (half dress), and informal attire, with the first two sometimes in turn divided into day and evening wear. A level below these are sometimes referred to as casual attire, often in combinations such as "smart casual" or "business casual" in order to indicate higher expectation than none at all.

The more formal traditional Western dress code interpretations - that is formal i.e. "white tie" and semi-formal i.e. "black tie" - have remained highly codified for men with essentially fixed definitions mostly unchanged since the 20th century with roots in 19th century customs. For women, though, changes in fashion have been more dynamic. Yet, although casual inventions, combinations and reinterpretations of the classifications have occurred and fluctuated, the general formal traditions have persisted for more than a century.

Dress codes are sometimes explicitly instructed, expected by peer pressure, or followed intuitively.

As with other cultures, versions of ceremonial dresses, military uniforms, religious clothing, academic dresses, and national dresses appropriate to the formality level are generally permitted and worn as exceptions to the uniformity, often in the form of headgear (see biretta, kippah etc.). Conversely, since most cultures have at least intuitively applied some level equivalent to the more formal ones in Western dress code traditions, the latter's versatile framework open to amalgation of international and local customs have influenced its competativeness as international standard range from formal to casual.

White tie

White tie, also called full evening dress or a dress suit, is the most formal in traditional evening Western dress codes. For men, it consists of a black dress tailcoat worn over a white starched shirt, marcella waistcoat and the eponymous white bow tie worn around a standing wingtip collar. High-waisted black trousers and patent leather oxford or optionally court shoes complete the outfit. Orders insignia and medals can be worn. Acceptable accessories include a top hat, white gloves, a white scarf, a pocket watch and a boutonnière. Women wear full length ball or evening gowns and, optionally, jewellery, tiaras, a small handbag and evening gloves.

The dress code's origins can be traced back to the end of the 18th century, when high society men began abandoning breeches, lacy dress shirts and richly decorated justaucorps coats for more austere cutaway tailcoats in dark colours, a look inspired by the country gentleman and perhaps their frocks and riding coats. By early 19th century Regency era, fashionable dandies like Beau Brummell popularised this more minimalist style, favouring dark blue or black tailcoats with trousers, plain white dress shirts, cravats, and shorter waistcoats. By the 1840s the black and white had become the standard colours for evening wear for upper class men. Despite the emergence of the shorter dinner jacket (or tuxedo) in the 1880s as a less formal but more comfortable alternative, full evening dress tailcoats remained the staple. Around the turn of the 20th century, white bow ties and waistcoats became the standard for full evening dress, known as white tie, contrasting with black bow ties and waistcoats for the dinner jacket, an ensemble which became known as black tie.

From around mid-20th century onwards, white tie was increasingly replaced by black tie as default evening wear for more formal events. By the 21st century white tie had become rare. White tie nowadays tends to be reserved for special, traditional ceremonies, such as state dinners and audiences, in addition to balls and galas such as the Vienna Opera Ball in Austria, the Nobel Prize banquet in Stockholm, Mardi Gras balls in New Orleans, and the Al Smith Memorial Dinner in New York. White tie still also occurs at traditional weddings and church celebrations, at certain societies, as well as occasionally around some traditional European universities and colleges.


In shoemaking, wholecut shoes are shoes which are made from a single piece of flawless leather with or without a backseam—in the latter case it is called a seamless wholecut. These shoes can be entirely plain and smooth or with tiny perforated decorations. Various types of shoes can be made wholecut, but usually the term refers to classic dress shoes. The absence of decorative features and overall conservative look tend to make wholecuts appropriate for black-tie occasions.

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