What Can You Wear When The Dress Code Is Black Tie?

We've all been in that awkward situation when we received a wedding invitation, and our initial excitement turned into confusion when we read that there was going to be a black tie dress code. Of course, there are some things you shouldn't wear to a wedding — such as sweatpants and baseball caps — no matter what the dress code. But like the business cocktail dress code, the black-tie requirement may initially sound a bit challenging.

If you're going to an event with a black tie dress code, you need to dress up. In addition to weddings, expect to follow a black tie requirement when attending a prom or ultra-fancy dining event (via Emily Post). Whether you like embracing your fancier side and dressing up or not, you'll probably attend at least one black-tie event in your life, so you should know what you'll be expected to wear. One way to get some inspiration is to search #blacktieevent on Instagram, but we also did some deeper research so that you don't have to.

An evening gown

Have you always heard the term "evening gown" referenced on TV and in movies but were never sure exactly what it meant? According to Merriam-Webster, an evening gown is "a long, formal dress that is worn to evening parties or events." In other words, it's just a long, fancy dress — nothing to overthink. This type of gown is a perfect dress to wear to black tie events since it's so elegant. You can find many examples of evening gowns on Instagram, such as a gold design with a mermaid fit, a dark blue sleeveless look with a slit, or a bolder poofy red gown.

Once you understand the evening gown concept, it's time to shop. Nordstrom offers many beautiful evening gowns for a wide variety of formal events. For instance, this Betsy & Adam trumpet gown is available at Nordstrom for around $220. The long, flattering gown is made of polyester with a hint of spandex and features sophisticated ruffle details and a small slit. Meanwhile, this Aqua gown is available at Bloomingdale's for about $240. Made of polyester and spandex, this chic black gown exudes compelling elegance. Additionally, there are a few sexy touches to the otherwise sophisticated piece, such as a cutout by the shoulder and a slit.

A tuxedo or a suit with a black tie

Tuxedos and suits are appropriate for black tie events, too. According to The Knot, the best idea is to wear a tuxedo to a black-tie gathering. However, suits are okay, too, but don't forget your black tie. These formal events aren't the places to experiment with colorful ties or ties with wild patterns. Classic is the name of the game when it comes to a black tie requirement. After all, why do you think it's called black tie?

Anyone searching for a black tuxedo jacket should check out Alfani at Macy's. Available for about $125 at the time of writing, this classy tuxedo jacket is made of polyester and rayon. On the other hand, the Michael Strahan Classic Fit Suit is an excellent option for anyone looking for a suit jacket. Selling for around $200 at Men's Wearhouse, this suit jacket is made of wool and polyester with a bit of spandex.

Furthermore, if you need a black bow tie for your tuxedo, this silk bow tie is available at Banana Republic for $80. And for anyone looking for a black tie, this one sells for about $50 at Express.

Sophisticated heels

As much as we enjoy rocking colorful heels, chunky sneakers, and bold trendy platform boots, you should leave all that fun footwear at home when attending a black tie event. When we searched #elegantheels on Instagram, many of the results we found consisted of sleek black heels. Thus, you can't go wrong with a pair of classic black pumps to elevate your sophisticated outfit.

You'll have many options to explore when shopping for a pair of black heels. For example, these Steve Madden patent heels are available for around $80. Plus, they have a pointy toe to elongate your legs and an ultra-slim four-inch heel. Another great choice is this Kelly & Katie pump, selling for about $40 at DSW. These black pumps have a faux leather look, pointy toes, a cozy footbed, and three-inch heels. You could also go for a bit more of a glamorous option and select these gold Asos pumps for under $50. 

So, are you ready to decide what to wear for your first — or next — black tie event?