Woman in red dress - San Marco Square, Venice, Italy

Navigating a black tie dress code can send even the most knowledgeable of fashionistas mad! Traditionally, it called for floor length ball gowns and sky high stilettos, however, fashion and modern elegance have started to take a short stroll down “Casual Lane” – meaning trying to decipher the black tie dress code rules and regulations have become even more confusing.

However, think of this as a positive; a blessing in disguise. Your options of what is completely Black Tie Dress Code appropriate are basically endless – well, they end at a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Obviously! To ensure you put together the perfect black tie dress code appropriate outfit, from top to bottom, take a look at our Top Tips for when it comes to perfecting the black tie dress code.

Code Classic

black tie dress code - classic style

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Probably the most traditional dress code (behind White Tie), a black tie dress code event calls for a seriously show-stopping gown, and top-to-toe glamour. When it comes to finding the perfecting dress, look to classic styles in luxurious materials and rich colours – think anything Audrey Hepburn would wear, but not in black!

Yes, we know, black is just so easy and goes with everything, but take a walk on the wild side and try something different. Try and steer clear of the monochrome blandness and draw inspiration from a royal palette of rich emeralds, varying shades of merlot, and deep navy hues.

If floor length, figure hugging, Audrey Hepburn style dresses aren’t for you, never fear! A black tie dress code doesn’t only stipulate the classic, fit and flare silk-satin ball gowns; hence the convoluted rules and regulations. Turn to 1950s Christian Dior styles for a perfectly acceptable black tie outfit. Something with a contrasting shape top and bottom – meaning a more dramatic silhouette – will have you turning heads all night long.

One rule of advice: always ensure the hem-line falls below the knee, or better yet, opt for a dramatic graduating hemline (short in the front, long in the back) for a modern take on an old classic.

When in doubt, stick to the classic shapes and styles. Look for bias cut dresses, cowl neck designs and corset shaped styles to err on the safer side. Come winter, the easiest way to stay warm and black tie dress code appropriate is to team an elegant shawl or faux-fur jacket for a truely luxurious winter look. 

Making Modern

black tie dress code - casual dressing

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Just because the invite says “Black Tie Dress Code”, doesn’t mean you have to stick to the red carpet ball gowns. When it comes down to it, location, time-of-day, and weather, will all play a large part in what you choose to wear.

For day-time or early evening, black tie dress codes can move towards the more casual end of the spectrum; obviously, meaning your outfit can too. Maintaining that black tie dress code class, but at a slightly more casual level, requires a certain level of skill. Draw from more the modern styles (think Olivia Palermo and Leandra Medine: ManRepeller), and try to steer clear of the classic, luxurious materials that dictate a more traditional black tie affair.

By “modern styles” we mean anything with an edgier design, cut or material, as this is wear our version of modern elegance gets played our in a number of embroidered or lace gowns. Be daring! Play with hem lengths and hem lines, cut outs and peak-a-boo gowns; just remember to keep it all in balance. As long as your comfortable and feeling amazing, you’ve picked the right dress.

Finishing It Off

black tie dress code bag

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When looking to finalise your entire outfit, keeping all accessories and your hair neat, simple and classy, we believe, is the best way to go. With the gown as your feature piece, choose an easy, out-of-the-way updo, or classic side-swept waves that will ensure your entire look is pulled together.

Keeping heels simple will allow the dress maintains the attention, however we are never one to shy away from throwing a quirky little bag over our shoulder. There’s plenty of novelty designs out there so pick one and wear it with pride!

For beauty advice, our Top Tip is to balance the overall look with either a statement lip or eye – having both may make you appear overly done-up. Simply put, work with your dress: classic lines and shapes call for classic accessories, while modern materials and styles need something to complement their delicate design.


SHOP BLACK TIE DRESSES

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