We’ve had a lot of questions about black tie events lately. What are they? How do I dress the part? These are some of the questions that we at Southern Scholar are here to help you with.

Black tie gatherings are major events. They are often awards ceremonies, prestigious balls, grandiose weddings, or even a milestone birthday party. Whatever the occasion, black tie events are strictly formal and you need to dress the part.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dLe-UOXA-683x1024.jpeg

What To Wear

From your dinner jacket to trousers and accessories, here’s what you need to look the part:

The Dinner Jacket

The first thing to consider is the color of the jacket. It might be a “black tie” event but the dinner jacket is not usually black. Midnight blue jackets are more common and look darker in artificial lighting. You can always wear a black jacket but a blue selection will give you a wonderful monochromatic contrast that will truly pop.

Next, you need to think about what kind of style you’re looking for. There are 3 different types of lapels, with the V deepening as you move down the list: the notch lapel, the peak lapel, and the shawl lapel. The shawl is the safest and most common choice when it comes to the jacket. There are also a few options when it comes to fabric. Traditional dinner jackets are made of silk but wool barathea is increasingly common. You can break tradition and go with a velvet jacket, which is also acceptable and in some instances more fashionable.

The Trousers

You can wear black tuxedo trousers with white, blue, or even red dinner jackets. As a general rule of thumb, your trousers should match your lapel, especially if the lapel is a different color than the rest of the jacket. Don’t try and sneak a regular pair of dress pants into the party; dress trousers have a braid down the leg and should be work with suspenders.

The Shirt

A traditional pleated dress shirt with a winged collar complements the jacket. It will always be white, usually with French cuffs. You have the options of white or black buttons: white if you are wearing a waistcoat, and black if you go with a cummerbund.

Bow Tie

All of the rules for the dinner jacket apply to the bow tie. Color deviation is accepted if it is a solid color and it works with the outfit. It can never be white, as this is reserved strictly for white-tie events. Try not to cut corners and tie the bow tie yourself. Give yourself some extra time, or practice tying the tie before the night of the event.

black tie


Traditionally, you have two options here: black velvet slippers or black patent leather. The patent shoe is the classic look and your best option. However, if you’re going with a velvet slipper, and the crowd is generally younger, you are likely to see different colors such as red and navy.


Black socks are the safest bet at black tie events. If you’re not wearing a traditional black tux you can experiment with subtle colors if you can stand a little controversy. Aside from black you can wear a deep red like The St. Valentines or The Aristocrat as well as dark blue socks.


You ideally should have a dress watch reserved for the occasion. Cufflinks are a must, but remember to keep it simple. Pocket squares are optional but recommended and need to be coordinated with your outfit.

Follow these steps and you will be ahead of the curve for your next black tie event. If you need the perfect socks for this or any other occasion make sure to check out Southern Scholar. Southern Scholar’s men’s subscriptions boxes ship cool dress socks straight to your door each month to keep you looking your best.

Leave a comment