Dress Like a Gentleman: A Formal introduction to black-tie dress codes for a Gala Dinner

Let’s talk Formal Men’s Attrite.

Despite dramatic ups and downs in men’s fashion, black-tie still remains the gold standard of formal attire.

From Duke of Windsor to Denial Craig in James Bond, men’s evening wear has remained almost the same.

Fortunately, dressing like a gentleman is far easier than one might imagine.

In a room packed full with people in black tie and suits, it is extremely important to make your impression by dressing “The Right Way”.

It is nearly as important as ‘knowing the right people’.

As the last thing, you want to do is to make an obvious fashion faux-pas.

I did it once before by wearing some hideous accessories and it was pointed out to me very clearly and quickly that it was not appropriate to wear.

Embarrassing as it was, it thought me a valuable lesson.

Never experiment and try things that could ruin your slick and carefully prepared gala dinner outfit.

You want other people to talk about you for the right reasons.

I wish that on you!

Therefore you need to top read this entire article to avoid disappointment and embarrassment. 

In this brief guide, we will introduce you to the subtle art of Gala dinner dress codes and show you how to dress like a man!

Understanding your invitation

Before we further process and explore the delicate art of properly dressing for Gala Dinners it is important to understand few basic Attire-Terms.  

Understanding some basic attire related terminology will help you understand the demand of your hosts, dress accordingly and stand out from the crowd.

Whether you received a Party invitation through a Facebook invite, over a phone or traditional invitation card, an invitation is likely to have one of following four Dress codes mentioned.

Black Tie Required

This type of invitation means your host wants you to dress a strict black-tie attire- commonly known as a tuxedo.

    Wearing anything other than a tuxedo on such events might result distressing your host.

    You put something else on, and people are going to talk about.

    You don’t want them to talk about it because of the way you misread and did not adhere to the stated required attire.

    Black Tie and White cotton pocket square is a must.

    Black Tie Preferred

    Most common type of invitation for a Gala Dinner.

      This invitation suggests that it is not compulsory to wear a black tie, but you are expected to wear if possible.

      This is the more polite way of implying a specific dress code.

      If you cannot purchase or rent a tuxedo, wearing any formal suit is suffice.

      You can experiment here slightly.

      Don’t go crazy, but a nice fitting Navy Suit with shiny Shawl lapel will also be very welcomed.

      Dark Blue or Navy velvet Bow tie with White pocket square will be highly appreciated.

      Black Tie Optional

      Mainly used for larger parties and gatherings, where the event is held by a business or a company.

      This type of invitation means that your host does not require you to follow a strict attire, you should wear a Dark Business formal suit, dinner jacket or a Tuxedo.

      There is a room for some creativity here.

      Colorful pocket square and accompanying bow tie will get everyone excited about your attire.

      Creative Black tie

      Invitation with a creative black tie is extremely rare and mostly avoided by hosts.

      However, if you do receive such invitation, it is best to wear tuxedos with black shirts, or with no ties.

      What you could use for that event is one of our milky way bow tie.

      Sometimes when the invitation does not specify any dress code or attire, it is best to wear a black-tie to avoid any confusions.

      However, most likely there will be a mention or two regarding of what is expected of you and how you should dress.

      The Perfect Black-Tie Attire:

      Traditionally a perfect Black-tie attire consists of 8 unique components a Tuxedo Jacket, Vest, White Dress Shirt, Trousers, Leather Shoes, White handkerchief and cufflinks. Let’s explore a little bit about each.

      Black Tuxedo Jacket

      Also known as an Evening jacket, Black tuxedo jacket is the standard of every Black-tie attire.

      An evening jacket with either shawl collars or upward sweeping peaked lapels provides elegant look with extreme comfort.

      There is no prize for guessing that it comes from previous centuries when lots of good looking men were hitting the streets in Paris and London.

      Real Men Real Style

      Black Trousers

      Dinner Jacket Trousers or black trousers with piping on both sides is a necessity of every black-tie attire.

      The material of lapels and piping is typically different from those of Tuxedo’s – mainly silk, or satin.

      They are often overlooked in a lower level price point tuxedos.

      Black Waistcoat or Cummerbunds

      Cummerbunds were very popular during the classic 30s all the way to 50s.

      The entire purpose of a cummerbund or a waistcoat is to conceal your waistband and give an elegant slim look to the tuxedo.

      Real Men Real Style

      White Dress Shirt

      Unlike common shirts, a tuxedo shirt is specially made from pique cotton, embroidered with small black buttons, and a turn-down collar.

      The shirt doesn’t always have to be plain white, it may have light pattern or texture.

      Best, however, is stick to white.  

      Make sure your shirt is completely ironed and free of any stains or wrinkles, which I hope is obvious to you…

      Black Bow Tie

      Wearing a proper bow tie can really make you stand out from the crowd.  

      Wearing a bow tie actually is not as difficult as you might imagine.  

      You can tie an excellent tie in one of two popular ways.

      The “Butterfly” bow tie is a vintage classic style to wear a tie, which might be difficult for beginners.  

      However, if you practice the “butterfly” style bow tie can be easily tied by yourself.

      We have created a video about it on our YouTube.


      If you are not sure of how to tie a perfect tie, “clip-up” ties are always a good option to consider.

      Black Leather Shoes

      When it comes to footwear for Gala Dinner, there is really no equivalent of a fine pair of Black leather shoes.

      Wear black silk or cashmere socks with your evening shoes.

      Make sure your shoes are well polished, comfortable and have silk laces as “Shoes reveal a whole lot about a man!”

      White Handkerchief

      This is the easiest part to get right!

      And you score some easy fashion dapperness points.

      Dressing up for a formal event is all about paying close attention to small details.

      Tucking a perfectly square-shaped white handkerchief in your front pocket will certainly make a positive impression on others.

      Cufflinks or Studs

      A perfect black-tie dress is all about accessories.

      Elegantly worn cufflinks or studs can bring everyone’s eye to you.  

      To really make an impression use one big shiny stud over your vest pallets.

      As a rule of thumb, try to complement your tuxedo jacket with your other accessories.

      Wear contact lenses instead of glasses whenever possible.

      Wearing a nice gold or silver watch is entirely optional, however, it gives a certain panache to the entire outfit.

      Final Words

      Whether you are renting an attire or using your own, make sure that the pair is complete.

      Collar pallets of the vest, bow tie and socks are generally made from the exact same material.  

      If you have been invited to a creative black tie event, you can also switch your black with whites and vice versa.

      Grooming your hair and beard properly is also extremely important.  

      There are no strict rules concerning hairstyles, but make sure to keep it simple and sober.

      You can use Pomade to take your hair to the back slightly, but be careful not to experiment too much as people will feel your lack of confidence.

      So stick to what you know.

      A good tuxedo may be a crucial part or a black-tie event or Gala Dinner, but certainly, it is not the most important.

      What matters more is your self-confidence and personality.

      So don’t panic when you get your next Black-tie invitation, just be yourself, you will be just fine.

      Wish you luck!

      Don’t forget to check out our other articles for more men-styling and grooming tips.  


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