There would not be a black tie option dress code if everyone owned a tuxedo. It would just be black tie, or something else. However, as we know that is not the reality, so when you are invited to a black tie optional wedding or other event, you probably are confused about what the dress code actually means, and how to navigate it.
Should you just skip the tux? No, not so fast. We have some awesome recommendations, and most of them involve a tuxedo.
Black Tie Optional Attire Definition
Like most dress codes, the name doesn't offer the info you need to find the right look. Luckily, black tie optional is pretty simple: Just wear black tie attire.
If you don't own a classic black tuxedo, it would typically be a lot easier to go with that black suit you have worn for so many other events and probably even job interviews. However, we don't want you to be one of the only guys who didn't show up in a tuxedo, so if buying is not an option for you, maybe look into renting a tuxedo instead. (AlbertGerald has a great variety of classic black tuxedos)
Once you have the basics covered (black tux, white dress shirt, black bow tie, and black dress shoes) follow our tips listed down below to step up your game.
Black Tie Optional Attire for Weddings
The couple who asks for black tie optional attire is really trying to be chill about the whole tuxedo thing, but please believe that they fully expect you to wear one. Maybe you have already decided you are not wearing a tux, and nothing will change your mind simply scroll down to our IF YOU MUST section below.
To better understand why it is important to aim high with this dress code, consider the following: When you ask your brother or sister or significant other to do the dishes or clean up after themselves :"if they have time", you really mean to say is "find the time." Black tie optional is pretty much saying "if you have the tux", meaning if you don't have it "find the tux".
You are following the black tie dress code, so wear a classic black tuxedo with peak lapel style. A shawl collar tuxedo would also be good, modern choice. Each of these tuxedos have a single-button closure, which is more formal than the two button front you would usually find on a suit jacket.
This shouldn't come as a surprise to you. A formal white white wing tip shirt might be overkill for this dress code, unless you think this wedding will be really, really extravagant. Otherwise, a simple white dress shirt, or an elevated style with a fold-down collar are solid choices.
Put on a black bow tie and you are all set. I know, it can be very tempting to try some unique neckwear, but this is not the right time for you to experiment with different colors and patterns on your neckwear. If you are looking for variety, try different shapes and textures, but please keep it black.
POCKET SQUARE, CUFFLINKS, AND BUTTON STUDS
Try not to make this too complicated. A simple white pocket square is the best option, however, if you want to try something with a pattern or print keep it black and white. Cufflinks are encouraged for a black tie optional wedding, but if you want to decorate your shirt with button studs make sure they are the same color as your cufflinks.
There is really only two acceptable shoes for this event, black patent leather shoes or a more elaborate pair in patent and calf skin leather
If you have been to a wedding before, you might know that vests on the wedding party are kind of a must have. If you are a guest in a vest, the odds are high you will look like you are in the wedding party. A vest simply makes the whole tux look more formal.
IF YOU MUST (SUIT)
It seems like you have made up your mind already and you are not wearing a tuxedo.
You will need a dark suit in navy or charcoal grey. The lighter you go in color, the more you will break the dress code. In addition to your dark suit, you will want to keep the rest of your outfit elevated and conservative. A good look would be a white dress shirt, a black necktie with a white pocket square and black dress shoes.
You might now be thinking "what about a black suit?", well, that can be difficult to pull off in this situation. Black is very stylish and edgy, but since it is a black tie optional attire, you would most likely style it with a white dress shirt and a black tie and this can give off accidental funeral vibes.
Black Tie Optional Attire for Special Events
A special event with this type of dress code is most likely encouraging you to loosely observe the black attire dress code while adding your own personality into the look.
In this case we won't even offer the "IF YOU MUST" suit option as this will make you stand out for the wrong reasons. But still, don't go full creative black tie (we wrote a detailed guide on that attire) because you are still expected to show up in black and white.
More Options for Black Tie Optional
If you don't own a tuxedo, and if you are not exactly psyched to rent one, that means you are thinking about making a big purchase. Which is a great option if it is your wedding or if you have lots and lots of events to do to. Buying a tuxedo is great since it would cover all your needs and you would always have it.
AlbertGerald has a wide selection of beautiful tuxedos with great quality (100% Wool) and amazing fit.