How Do You Dress Up for a White Tie Event?

Not many events today call for a white tie attire, which goes to say that not many men are entirely prepared for a white tie event when they’re invited to one. There are many types of men’s neckties available in different design patterns and colors, but when it comes to white ties, some efforts are required to carry it well. One bit of good news is that when an occasion does require such an outfit, it will be clearly stated in the invitation to give you time to prepare.

Dress Up for a White Tie Event
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Events that Require ‘White Tie’

Weddings, charity balls, awards ceremonies, and state dinners typically require invitees to wear white tie. There’s very little room to ‘make it your own’, so everyone in a white tie party more or less looks similar in terms of clothing choices.

White Tie vs. Black Tie

The obvious difference between white tie and black tie dress codes is the color of the bow tie. Apart from that, you can expect a black tie event to be slightly more casual with a small wiggle room for personalization.

How to Pull Off the Perfect White Tie Outfit

Since there’s less room for experimenting, the basic components remain the same:

    • Black tailcoat
    • White shirt
    • Waistcoat
    • White bow tie
    • Black leather shoes
    • High-waist black trousers
    • Cufflinks

Accessories are optional but do add an elegant touch that will make you look more sophisticated.

    • White gloves
    • Top Hat
    • Dress cane

Wearing all three accessories mentioned above will likely make you look like an extra in a period drama, so you may want to stick to a top hat or white gloves to polish your style.

Also, don’t forget about the socks. While they’re not as visible as the rest of your ensemble, it’s important to choose dressy formal socks just in case.

White Tie for Women

A full-length dress is essential for women, as well as a classy selection of jewelry. If a woman must bring a bag to the event, make sure it’s small and elegant and that it completes the look.

Long evening gloves are optional but are still commonly worn for balls and formal dinners. The women must have them on for the entire event except at the dining table, where they’re traditionally taken off and rested on the lap under the napkin.

The Attire and Fit

Simply having all the pieces of clothing won’t create as elegant an effect if they’re not fitted properly. Here are a few quick tips to follow to make sure you pull off the dress code right.


This stylized version of the traditional jacket should draw attention to your waistline and the tails. The back helps to create an elongated look, while the high waist pants contribute to making your legs and torso longer, as well.

The shoulder area should fit neatly while providing room for easy movement. Sleeves must reach your wrist bone but leave some space to show off the rim of your white shirt underneath.

White Shirt

Even the white shirt for a white tie event must be chosen carefully. No dull whites should be worn—it must be sparkling white to match the formality of the occasion.

Men have the choice of wearing the pleated front design or the bib front design. The fit is not as strict, however, and should just allow for easy movement and be long enough to tuck into your trousers.


The fit of the waistcoat is crucial. It should be long enough to cover the top part of the trousers and ideally have the same material and color as your shirt. Don’t make the mistake of treating your waistcoat as a corset, meaning it should not feel constricted. Instead, it should skim over your body to complement your form.


Slim-fit trousers look very sleek and elegant, which is why they’re needed for a white tie outfit. Traditionally, the trousers shouldn’t have belt loops and the side of the trouser line should have a silk or satin lining.

Because white tie suits don’t include a belt, the fit of the trousers has to be perfect to stay up without support. Regarding the length, let the end of the trousers be long enough to brush the top of your shoes without covering them entirely.

Bow Tie

The finishing touch to your outfit should be the white bow tie. Avoid anything patterned or colored or you’ll ruin the point of the dress code entirely. If possible, avoid the clip-on variety and learn how to tie it yourself to achieve that crisp look.

Attending a white tie event is the perfect opportunity to see yourself in your most sleek and sophisticated form. While there are very strict rules to follow, this also makes it easier to know what to avoid and what are your available options so you can dress right for the occasion.

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