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Apr, 13 2022

The Black Tie Optional Dress Code for Men

Groomsmen wearing a tuxedo at a black tie optional wedding

When it comes to being a guest at a special event, there’s more to it than showing up—especially someone’s wedding day. One important to-do you have is to arrive looking your best. But before you start planning your attire for any occasion, you must know the dress code. After all, it plays a big part in the hosts’ vision for their event. Their vision has likely influenced all aspects of their planning. So making sure their guests attend in the right ensembles is a crucial step in their perfect day.

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If you’re unfamiliar with the different dress code options, there’s no need to worry. Take a look at our Wedding Dress Code guide. If you’re now a guest at a black-tie optional event, read on for suggestions on what to wear.

Man wearing a Generation Tux suit for a black tie optional affair

What is Black Tie Optional Attire?

A black-tie optional event invitation can leave guests scratching their heads. For many people, this dress code seems vague.

Unlike other dress codes, black tie optional attire allows guests to go all out with a black-tie ensemble or opt for a suit. This dress code is usually reserved for evening affairs. It’s assumed that if you’re attending a black-tie optional wedding, the bridal party will be in formal attire. So even though a choice between traditional black-tie attire and a suit, you are still expected to get dressed up. Casual attire is inappropriate for this type of event. Remember, you don’t want to stray too far from the hosts’ ensembles.

Wedding Invitation For A Black Tie Optional Event

How are Black Tie Optional Events Worded on Invitations?

You may assume the invitation will state “black tie optional wedding,” there are other ways it can be presented. Some couples write “black tie invited” or “black tie encouraged” instead. That usually translates to “We would love for you to go formal for our big day, but we’re fine if you want to wear a suit.” Couples do this because they realize that not all men own a tuxedo. So they’ll give guys a choice between renting a tux or going with a suit that they might already have in their closet.

Close Up of man dress for a black tie optional wedding

Black Tie Basics

If you want to choose the black-tie route, you’ll need to wear a tuxedo. The difference between a tuxedo and a suit is a tux jacket has satin facings on the lapels, buttons, and pockets. Also, on the trousers, you’ll find a satin stripe running down the leg of the trousers. On a suit, the jacket, lapel, and pants are all made of the same material.

If you’re donning a tuxedo at an event, you want to do it right. Black is traditional for tuxedos, but you can add some color to your look with a blue or even charcoal gray tux. Stay away from tails, which are reserved for ultra-formal events.

You can finish your look off with a black bow tie, vest or cummerbund, and dress shoes. And if you want suspenders, then go for it! Remember that the one thing you don’t need is a belt!

Man wearing a Generation Tux Slate Gray Suit that is perfect for a black tie optional wedding dress code

Putting Together Your Suit Ensemble

There is nothing wrong with wearing a suit to a black-tie optional event. But you’ll still want to think about the type of ensemble you put together. Since the event is most likely in the evening, it’s a safe bet to stick with a darker color. While you can’t go wrong with black, don’t be afraid to step out of the box with charcoal gray or navy blue. Avoid brown, which some consider a “country” look; that is best kept to rustic or boho events held in the daytime. You also want to play it safe with solid-colored suits. A Black tie optional event is not the best time to experiment with bold patterns. But feel free to go with two pieces or three in your suit, and it can be single or double-breasted.

Generation Tux formal white shirt

The Shirt

Whether you’re wearing black, blue, or gray, a crisp white shirt will contrast with a dark suit. Our White Twill Spread Collar Shirt is a great option for a white dress shirt. It is 100% cotton for a soft in-hand feel. It looks great with a tuxedo or a suit. One mistake to avoid is wearing a tuxedo shirt with a suit. Trust us, it won’t look like you’ve got the best of both worlds. Instead, your ensemble will appear mismatched and not very well thought out!

Generation Tux Indigo Pin Dot Pre-Tied Bow tie

The Tie

When it comes to choosing a tie, it’s all about what you’re most comfortable wearing for the event. While some men prefer the more modern necktie, others like the traditional bow tie. Luckily, you can wear either one as long as it coordinates well with your suit.

Guys are also going bolder when it comes to selecting the color of their tie. While you don’t have to feel obligated to choose black, you don’t want to over-do-it with a bright color or a crazy pattern. Remember, the hosts chose this dress code because they want a sophisticated affair. With that in mind, stick with dark, solid colors such as burgundy, navy, forest green, or dark plum. One color to avoid is white, which is reserved for white tie events.

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Generation Tux Black Dress Shoes

The Shoes

Black patent leather shoes are your best option for a black-tie dress code. The style is the most formal and looks fantastic with a tuxedo. If you’re opting for a suit, you might feel more comfortable with Matte Black dress shoes. Whatever you do, make sure you polish your shoes.

While some guys are stepping out of the box by wearing designer sneakers, you don’t want to go that route. You never want to offend someone, especially those throwing the event! But if you’re feeling bold, a whimsical pair of socks can do the trick and won’t cause any distractions.

Generation Tux Midas Gold Pocket Square

Pocket Squares

Adding a pocket square to your tux or suit is up to you. Again, keep it simple—choose a solid color that coordinates well with your ensemble. We have pocket squares with a satin twill finish and a subtle sheen and texture in various colors. With us, you’ll be sure to find something that works.

Generation Tux Black & Silver Cufflinks And Studs


You can finish off your look by accessorizing it well. Again, this isn’t a suitable event to go too bold. Think of a classic pair of cufflinks in gold or silver. If you’re wearing a tux, you can also take your look to another level with studs.

Man Wearing a Generation Tux Black Shawl Tuxedo For A Black Tie Options Wedding

The Fit

It doesn’t matter what kind of outfit you wear. If it doesn’t fit well, you won’t look or feel your best. Luckily, our fit technology finds you the right sized suit or tuxedo fit by answering a few questions. You’ll then be able to try it on in the comfort of your home. And if it doesn’t fit your body type perfectly, we’ll send you a replacement—free of charge!

Ready to start planning your black-tie optional ensemble? Start browsing through our selection of tuxedos, suits, ties, and accessories.

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