What can I wear to black tie wedding?

So I’ve been invited to a wedding in June, and I’m going. This is exciting, because I’ve only ever been to two weddings in my life.

It is an evening event, and it black tie.

I’ve asked a few people what that means for me, being femal and 17 years old, and they all say, “wear a formal dress.”

Well, what does that mean? Should I wear a long dress? Can it be black? Any other guidelines for what women should wear to black tie events?


I meant female. But you knew that already, right?

From “Miss Manners’ Guide for the Turn of the Millenium” pg 628 - Guidelines for Proper Wedding Clothes. (it’s a chart)

Female guests at formal evening weddings should wear “Long Dinner Dresses.” it continues “No female guest should wear black or white to a wedding. Black suggests mourning and white looks as if one is competing with the bride.” And under the “Only over Miss Manners’ Dead Body” column she lists “Disco clothes intended to contrast ironically with the innocence traditional to weddings.”

So something long, not black, not white, & not trashy.

Think “Sunday best.” Hope this helps.

Wear black tie. And nothing else.

Then take pictures, send 'em to me, and then put on a nice evening dress (with perhaps one of those flimsy sheer shawls around your shoulders) and go to the wedding.


Go to a store like Macys. Tell them that you are going to a wedding & you want them to suggest something,
then buy something like it at a thrift store.

Or you can call the people who are getting married & ask for hints. Most first brides wear white, but
not always the second time they get married. So what if you choose pink & the bride also wears pink? Oops. that’s why asking
the bride what to wear is a nice idea.

I think this thread would be better served in IMHO.

Cajun Man - SDMB Moderator

I wore white to the wedding cause I thought surely the bride wouldn’t have the NERVE to wear white herself!

You’re basically looking to wear something one notch below a poofy prom dress: something formal, long is usually nice, and not poofy.

And I really wouldn’t worry about wearing black. Who actually cares about that stuff anymore?

Thanks for the suggestions, y’all.

Now I will be the at height of fashion, without offending either the bride or Ms. Manners…

the only time you dont wear what the bride is wearing is if it is white. If the bride picks another color, all bets are off. any color is cool to wear. Also, never wear white even if the bride wears another color. You don’t want to be mistaken for the bride. It happens.

Evening weddings mean you can step up on the dress and jewelry. Think more along the lines of pearls, not diamonds.
It is ok to wear black since it is an evening occasion. Evening dresses are typically long. anything short looks too ‘cocktail’.
Hair is typically worn up.

in short, think of an elegant prom.

something beautiful is to wear a flower in your hair. Inexpensive and very unique. stay away from gardenias. they smell nice but turn brown.

one more thing. Your date, if you have one.
This means a traditional tux. This means a tux with a BLACK cumberbund. It is not by any means supposed to match your dress. This includes fun stuff; nix the looney tunes vests.


one last thing, I promise.
NO watches. DO not wear a watch for an elegant affair, regardless of how nice it is. It just doesnt go with the look.

I once wore a very elegant Chinese print red silk dress to a black tie evening wedding. It had the traditional Mandarin collar and black frog closures slightly to the left side. Since you’re young, you can get away with a slightly trendier/hipper look than many of the long dresses you’ll find at Macy’s.

Just don’t go overboard with the theme. No “hair in a bun held with chopsticks” or anything.

Oh, and as for jewelry, don’t wear dangly earrings AND a necklace. It’s one or the other.

Most importantly, wear something that you feel comfortable in. You don’t want to feel like you need to “fix” your outfit every five minutes. It will ruin the party for you. Go with something that suits your style, just more formal.

Ooooh, I wish I had a black-tie wedding to go to. Let us know what you decide, so I can live vicariously though you!

This is a great idea. A lot of people who regularly attend black tie events “don’t want to be seen in the same thing twice.” So formalwear is pretty common in secondhand stores.

Also, the Academy Awards is a black-tie event, so Oscar dresses might give you some ideas. (hint: Do not wear what Gwyneth wore.)

I second (third?) the thrift store idea. You can often find classy, beautiful, vintage stuff there.

Ordinarily, I follow the “don’t wear black” rule, but since this is an evening event I think you could get away with it. If you plan on spending a fair bit of money on the dress and want to wear it again, I’d say buy whatever you want–black, short, whatever–as long as it’s pretty classy.

Also, wear something relatively comfortable. There will no doubt be plenty of eating and dancing, so keep that in mind. I strongly advise against very high heels, especially if you plan on doing lots of dancing.

Have fun!

Sorry, but IMHO this is only one step up from shoplifting. The employee is there to help customers . You are not a customer if you never plan on buying the thing the employee is helping you with, and you are keeping that employee from helping paying customers. You are stealing that employee’s time from Macy’s. Now, if the store isn’t busy, then it isn’t so bad, because Macy’s does at least get some future good will from you for helping you, but still…

That’s one of the reasons that things are cheaper at the thrift stores, they don’t have employees who are likely to help with questions like “What do I wear to a black-tie wedding?” That’s not saying that you shouldn’t buy at them, and not saying that when you go in you can’t say “Do you have anything that would be appropriate for a black-tie wedding?” But asking an employee of a store to help you decide on something that you want to buy at another store is pretty classless.

Or a black waistcoat (vest).

For your consideration: black is possible, but a very nice alternative is navy. IMO, nothing looks as classy and elegant as a nice, simple, long navy dress in a beautiful fabric. I think navy is one of those colours that just can’t look inappropriate.

LordVor–I disagree completely. You’re welcome to go kick tires in a store. Stores welcome this, because very often a person who has no intention of buying sees something that they can’t live without and buys it. Macy’s would much rather have the OP standing in the dress department than not standing in the dress department.

I just couldn’t hepl but think of the Looney Tunes Cumberbund I saw…

also another point to ponder:

when the invite says Black tie, do they really mean it?
If it is a known social event…they mean it and all the rules apply.
If she is some socialite type, then all the rules apply.

I have been to a few weddings where it said 'black tie" and we went through the effort of getting a tux, etc…

only to see that we were WAY over dressed. (its not a good thing when your date is better dressed than the groom…)

Since you know them, only you can decide how much “black tie” means…how dressed up to get.

[gazing through her lorgnette]: Black tie is, of course, SEMI-formal. White tie is “formal.” Make sure your date puts his cummerbund on with the folds facing upward. And if yoiu’re going to wear a navy dress, PLEASE don’t do so with black shoes, or the baby Jesus will dry.

Have fun, dear, and save a piece of cake for me!