Classic Rules for Black-Tie Dressing

There’s no excuse for not nailing a black-tie look. Since donning a full tuxedo is only necessary a handful of times each year, all men should have something well made and classic at the ready so they’re always looking great. While black tie hasn’t changed significantly over the years, there have been subtle updates that can make the look feel more modern. However, certain rules cannot be compromised. Here’s our breakdown of the black-tie basics:

Jacket: Choosing a jacket’s lapel and facing is of enormous consequence to the entire suit. Ideally, the jacket should have a peak lapel made of either satin silk or grosgrain. A peak lapel is special and draws the eyes out to the shoulders to accentuate a man’s natural V shape. For the slimmest silhouette, an unvented jacket is preferred, but double vents are also considered acceptable. All buttons should match, either in plain black or covered in the same facing as the lapels.

Trousers: Tuxedo pants should perfectly match the tuxedo jacket. The base material should be the same, and the braid running along the sides should match the lapel. The trousers should be high waisted and minimal, with plain front pleats and no cuffs.

Shirt: The shirt that accompanies a tuxedo should be one of plain white that features a bib—the rectangular panel that runs down the front of the shirt. The most common styles are pleated and piqué; both are equally appropriate. Studs or mother-of-pearl buttons should run down the center of shirt, and a French cuff is the standard for evening shirts that fasten with cuff links. The collar is mostly considered in two styles: wing and turndown. Wing collars are high with small points; a point-style turndown collar is also acceptable. Button-down collars should never be seen in black tie.

Bow tie: Lastly, there are a number of ways to tie a bow tie. The butterfly is narrow at the center and wide at the ends. The semi-butterfly has smaller sides and a modern, pointy appearance. Then there are straight-end and pointed styles. There is no hard and fast rule as to which is preferable. Like most things, it’s merely a matter of taste.


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