For the most part, there is only one rule in fashion, and that is that there are no rules. Of course, it wasn’t always like this. Once upon a time, stringent dress codes dictated our every sartorial move (activewear to the office? Never!) and there were straightforward style guidelines for every facet of our life.
But now, for better or worse, the lines are blurring and no more so than when it comes to how to dress for the classic ‘black tie’ wedding. After all, we live in a time when sneakers and sequined gowns co-exist in one ensemble and personal style reigns supreme, so naturally it begs the question: what exactly is black tie dressing?
Scroll on for all details on how to do black tie in style.
What should you wear to a black tie wedding?
“Traditionally, it has always been a floor length evening gown, yet these days we are seeing an array of length and styles. I believe in this day and age, you can play with the length of your dress, whether it be a long dress that falls to the ground or a mid-length dress in a beautiful rich hue and luxurious fabric. Both of these are fine, just do not go above the knee,” said Nina.
“Amp up the accessories to formalise your look and if in doubt, you can always ask the couple, wedding party or close friends to help answer questions about the appropriate dress length.”
See a few of Nina’s black tie wedding-approved examples below.
Do you have to wear a dress to a black tie wedding?
“Black tie is the perfect opportunity to wear a long dress, however, modern fashion has created many elegant options that don’t restrict you to a dress. Individual style is overruling and I have seen several different alternatives to dresses at black tie weddings. Think jumpsuits and maxi skirts in luxe silks and embellished fabrics,” explained Nina.
“If you wish to wear a suit, opt for a beautifully tailored tuxedo in rich velvet, silk or sequins. Think structured shoulders paired with statement thick gold hoop earrings and a pair of show-stopping heels. Yves Saint Laurent was one of the first designers to rock the tuxedo-style suit for women in the ’60’s and it has become a timeless classic since.”
Do you have to wear heels? What are some alternatives to heels?
“For shoes, think elegance. It’s best to stick with stilettos, pumps or strappy sandals. For a lower option, opt for a kitten heel or a glamorous wedge. Stay away from flat sandals, or statement sneakers, as they don’t quite fit the fancy brief and you will have plenty of opportunities to wear them. Save them for the morning after or recovery event!” said Nina.
“Make sure you consider the location when choosing footwear. You may rethink sky-high stilettos and opt for a chic block heel when attending a sophisticated farm wedding where you will most likely be walking across or grass and uneven ground.”
Any notes on accessories?
“Dare to be different! This is the part of the dress code where you can push the boundaries. Go for statement-coloured bags, bold jewellery and sophisticated footwear. Think ‘the Oscars meets the Met Gala’. Black tie is one of the most formal dress codes, so take the risk on accessories and stand out from the crowd,” said Nina.
What should you absolutely avoid wearing to a black tie wedding?
“The only rule is don’t wear white, ivory or cream. You should never go there, long or short. Basically anything that is competing with the bride, you should avoid,” said Nina.