What to wear for a “Black Tie Optional” Invitation

Black Tie Optional Infographic

As the name suggests, “black tie optional” adds a more casual spin to the formal black tie dress code. It was invented because hosts wanted to make it acceptable for men who don’t own a tux or have the means of acquiring one, to wear a solid black suit instead. Thus, a wide range of outfits have become acceptable. If you want to dress in a full tux, cummerbund, bow tie, and patent leather shoes, then go for it. Do you prefer to rock your slim fit black suit with a trendy black skinny tie instead? Then surely this would be a perfectly acceptable alternative. Below are 10 “black tie optional” looks that our stylist has put together. Choose the one that best suits your personality!

The Sophisticated

sophisticated black tie attire

Don’t let the word “optional” discourage you to be the best dressed man at the party! Instead pull out all the stops and use this chance to dress in sartorial poshness that would even leave royalty envious. If this is you, then check out our Black Tie Guide for some more styling and accessorizing tips.

The Classic

classic mens black tie attire

You are a true gentleman and know how to dress the part. If the “Sophisticated” black tie ensemble above is a tad too opulent for your taste then this makes a great second option. While classic in nature, the 3-piece look of the added waistcoat as well as the addition of a simple white pocket square (folded with the flat fold), infuse some fashionable chic.

The 007


Our stylist got some inspiration from Daniel Craig’s black tie ensemble in “Skyfall” when putting this look together. The fitted silhouette of the European cut tux is perfect if you have a slimmer built, and/or fit, athletic frame. Nicely complimenting the modern cut of the tux is the simple and plain tuxedo shirt featuring a hidden placket. A classic butterfly or modern narrow batwing bow tie finish of this contemporary black tie ensemble. As for the pocket square a lightly starched white linen or cotton piece is the only option. We suggest either the flat fold or the one point up folding technique for the 007.

The Avantgarde


Don’t own a tux and also don’t want to deal with the hassle of renting an outfit that typically is poorly tailored and of mediocre-at-best quality? Then a classic black or dark charcoal suit is an acceptable piece for a “black tie optional” event. Adding some modern flair is the skinny black tie and narrow silver tie bar combo, complementing the narrow lapels on your modern tailored suit. As for the pocket square a solid white piece is your best bet. We suggest either the two points up or the three stairs fold for the Avantgarde ensemble.

The Debonair

Debonair black tie look

This look will make you feel and look like a million bucks! The double breasted tux with wider peak lapels is a timeless statement piece that evokes sartorial confidence only few other wardrobe pieces can match. Complimenting the wider lapels is a larger spread butterfly bow tie and a white carnation lapel flower. Our stylist recommends a bow tie made from either satin silk or velvet that with a height in the 3” - 4” range..

The Stylish

Stylishly modern black tie attire

It might look quite similar to the “Avant-Garde” at first, but a few small details in the suit’s cut add an entire new spin to this fashion forward ensemble. The slim and tapered silhouette as well as the narrow, 1 ½ inch wide shawl collar, make this an excellent garment for the slimmer body type. A solid black skinny tie as well as a flat-folded white pocket square are your key accessories for this look.

The Hipster

Hipster Black Tie Inspiration

You don’t like to confirm to the rules society puts on you, but at the same time want to be respectable to the host! Curated to compliment your stache and your thick framed glasses is this “hipster approved” look! Made up of a monochromatic black palette and featuring slim fit pieces that are almost as tight as your jeans. For some added bohemian flair consider adding a red carnation lapel flower.

The Ostentatious

Ostentatious Black Tie

Dress like a rockstar and take center stage with this dapper formal ensemble. While the tux’s color certainly will grab your attention, it is the little detail that any sartorialist will appreciate the most on this look: A narrow bow tie with pointed ends is complemented by a “four point crown” folded pocket square, and the black shawl collar inspires a contemporary cut.

The Suave

Suave Black Tie Dress Tips

The Suave is a perfect blend of audaciousness, confidence, refinement, and poshness. The deep maroon red color instantly makes you stand out from the ordinary black & white palette worn at the event. While “the Suave” does set yourself apart, it still manages to fit in. Choose this look if you like to get noticed and want to be in the running for the “most snazzy dressed” award.

The “Sleekster”

Trendy Sleek Monochromatic Black Tie

The “Sleekster” was created to be the more polished and refined version of “the Hipster” look above. Thus, the black suit get’s swapped for a slim cut modern tux, and the skinny black tie is replaced by a narrow batwing bow tie. As for the pocket square, choose either solid black or classic white - folded with either the three points up or the four points up technique.