The NEW Rules For Black-Tie Dressing

More formal than “cocktail” and less formal than “white tie,” black-tie dressing walks the line between getting decked out for an evening on the town and dressing up to attend a royal wedding. If your name doesn’t include the title Duchess, black tie is probably your fancy-dressing sweet spot — but don’t even think about busting out those tiaras. In actuality, you can take quite a bit of creative license with black-tie events— and never for one second should you have to sacrifice personal style to attend a dinner with five forks. Ahead, we break down the new rules for black-tie dressing, so you won’t be tempted to dig out that awful tulle confection ever again.


Adopt The New Le Smoking Suit
The key to the new Le Smoking suit? It doesn’t have to be a real suit set at all — find plush blazers and trousers in oversized, cropped cuts in varying shades of black. As long as you’re mixing textures, too, you can get away with different black hues. Pair with a sleek clutch and strappy stilettos. 

Photo: Courtesy of Zara.


Get Tough With Your Accessories
The studs and spikes of past seasons have been replaced with golden chains, oversized jewels, and other ostentatiously over-the-top bangles, necklaces, and earrings. Think Dynasty + 2 Chainz.

Photo: Courtesy of Reiss


Don’t Be Afraid To Make A Mess
Just because your look is super-polished doesn’t mean your hair has to be. A slightly messy, undone ‘do keeps your look from being too fussy or uptight, and instead adds a bit of edge. Try pairing your gown with a loosely pinned updo and a few wispy flyaways, or some textured waves to modernize your look. Just don’t go too crazy with it: You don’t want to look like you got caught in a wind tunnel on the way to the party, or resemble a walk of shame before the night has even begun. 

Photo: Courtesy of Mango


Let Your Coat Be The Centerpiece
During the colder months, you might not even want to take your jacket off indoors — and that’s alright! Perfect for party hopping (New Years Eve, anyone?), this look only works if you’re not toting around winter gloves, a hat, and chunky scarves. 

Photo: Courtesy of Matches.


Color Your World (Or At Least Your Lips)
Black tie, as the name implies, isn’t really big on color, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little bit of Technicolor fun. Vibrant lipsticks, jewel-toned liners, bright pops of blush, and Crayola-colored mascara are all rad ways to add some youth and energy to your party look. Just don’t use them all at once, or you lose the sophistication and start veering off into teeny-bopper territory. Pick one out-of-the-box accent and keep the rest of your look natural and low-key. 

Photo: Courtesy of J.Crew


When In Doubt? Belt It
A belt might seem too casual for an evening gown, but if you’ve got something that fits a little frumpy, or is an inch too long, just cinch your waist with a belt. The key is to find a belt in a pristine leather, velvet, or metal material — anything that’s not going to look too casual. 

Photo: Courtesy of My Wardrobe

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