Men’s guide to gala event attire

blonde man standing in a covered courtyard in a black tuxedo with a bow tie

Not sure what to wear to a black tie event? We’ve got you covered.
Image source: Kaspars Grinvalds

If you’re attending a formal event with photographers – we’ll help you stand out from the crowd in all the right ways. Check out our tips before you step foot on the red carpet and avoid a fashion faux pas.

Whether it’s an awards ceremony or charity gala dinner, every detail matters at black tie events. From the tips of your polished Oxford shoes to the point of your carefully folded silk pocket square, everything you wear should exude a sense of effortless elegance. If you’re not sure what passes muster when it comes to gentlemen’s evening wear, fear not – we’ve got you covered.


Patent leather prestige dress shoe from Samuel Windsor - available to buy now

Patent leather dress shoes are the most formal option
Image source: Prestige Dress Shoe from Samuel Windsor

A black tie event most definitely calls for a high quality pair of black leather shoes, preferably black Oxford shoes. Their simple elegance neatly complements the rest of your formalwear, allowing you to put your best foot forward!

Make sure they’re well-polished and tied with clean, round, waxed laces. Now is not the time for slapdash! In a pinch, a pair of black semi- or quarter-brogues will also work, but stay away from a full brogue. Their decorative perforations are a bit too flashy for the neatness of black tie.


Samuel Windsor evening wear pants

Pants often have a line of piping down the side
Image source: Samuel Windsor evening wear

Traditional black tie wear is a dinner jacket with matching trousers. Unlike most suit pants, dinner suit trousers are non-cuffed, slightly higher at the waist, and often feature black piping down the side that can be coordinated with accessories.

Even if the dress code is “black tie flexible” or “black tie preferred,” don’t be tempted to pull out any other non-suit pants, no matter how nice they are. Wear chinos to a gala dinner, and even the smartest formal jacket will look too casual.


Emerald green velvet dinner jacket from Samuel Windsor

Black tie doesn’t mean you have to wear black
Image source: Emerald green velvet dinner jacket from Samuel Windsor

For the more adventurous amongst you, black tie doesn’t always mean wearing black. Celebrities are often seen on the red carpet wearing striking white dinner jackets with great success – although if you do go this route, be extra cautious with the red wine.

Or, why not change it up with a velvet dinner jacket, adding color, texture and interest. Midnight blue or emerald green are particularly dapper choices that’ll look like you’ve stepped right out of scene from Downton Abbey.

But don’t be afraid to keep it simple. There’s nothing smarter than a well-fitting black tux with a crisp white shirt and sharp bowtie. Add a splash of color with a silk pocket square if you want to make an elegant statement.


man standing in a smart suit adjusting round cufflinks

Don’t forget to pay attention to the details
Image source: Nesterov

Cufflinks, bowties, pocket squares, and socks are all excellent places to employ creativity and color. From bold blue bowties to brightly patterned silk squares or striking yellow socks, there’s no rule that says black tie can’t be a little playful too. (Just don’t do all three of those things at once!)

Finally, there’s your cummerbund. Cummerbunds aren’t always required with a typical suit, but you’ll need one for the red carpet – and coordinating it with your bowtie is a suave move.

Ready for the paparazzi?

When it comes to gala events, there’s simply nothing smarter than a classic black tux dinner suit. But, if you’re feeling bold, there are many opportunities to personalize your look and have some fun at the same time.

Posted in Men's Style Guides.

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