“White Tie” is the most formal of all dress codes and it is usually associated with royal affairs and presidential meetings. White Tie affairs will make Black Tie Attire appear casual. In a nutshell, white tie consists of a black or midnight blue tailcoat jacket, a waistcoat, a wing-tip collar dress shirt, and a white bow tie. To learn more on each clothing item pleases read on below.
The Tailcoat Jacket
As the name indicates, the tailcoat jacket looks like a waist-coat at the front with a long tail on the back. Traditionally, black is the color of choice although dark, midnight-blue is also acceptable. It is crucial that the tailcoat jacket is tailored to perfectly fit the wearer’s body. The sleeves and the collar should be tailored so that ¾ of an inch of cuff and shirt collar are showing, the front of the coat should end just below the waistline, and the tails should fall just below the knees. The peaked lapels should be faced in satin which also covers the 6 buttons at the front and the 2 buttons at the back.
The trousers must be made from the exact same fabric as the jacket. Traditionally one or two satin stripes on each outer side cover the seam. The trousers should have pleats at the front, and no cuffs at the bottom.
Traditionally a white waistcoat made from a fine checkered woven fabric (called pique) is worn underneath the tailcoat. The waistcoat is either single or double breasted, and should not extend below the waistcoat.
The Right Dress Shirt
Usually a wing-tip collar dress shirt is worn for white tie functions. The front of the shirt has no pleats but is decorated with either 2-3 black studs (the number of studs depends on the wearer’s height and the rise of the waistcoat).
The White Bow Tie
The bow tie is white in color and made from the same fabric as the waistcoat. Choose either a butterfly or a bat-wing style bow tie. Traditionally bowties worn for white tie functions are self-tied. For instructions please visit our guide on How to Tie a Bow Tie.
Shoes must be black in color and must have a high gloss polish. Most common are pumps or plain-toed oxfords - both made with thin leather sole. Most common is patent leather but high-gloss polished calf leather is also occasionally chosen.
White Tie Accessories
Similar to black tie dress code, there are several popular optional accessories chosen for white tie functions. Studs and Cuff Links can be either black in color or made from mother of pear. White leather gloves made from finest kid leather are also worn. Other accessories include a pocket watch, a white linen handkerchief, and button-on white suspenders worn underneath the waistcoat.
Last but not least, a wooden walking stick as well as a beaver fur top hat will add additional gentlemanly elegance to your perfect white tie ensemble.