Black tie preferred means that a black tie outfit should be the first option. For men, this means a black tux and tie. For women, this means a floor length gown. The preferred part simply means that should you not be able to put together a black tie outfit, a nice outfit will still be permitted. For men, this would include dress pants and a dress shirt. For women, this would mean a nice cocktail dress.
Black tie optional means there is a choice of full black tie dress, meaning a tux for men and floor length gown for women. Black tie optional generally means to dress formally, but some of the accessories (such as a tie) are not required. Such events will usually include a mix of traditional formal and casual formal dress. If you are uncertain about how to dress for a black tie optional event, it is best to ask the host or other guests what they intend to wear.
Black tie creative is the least formal of black tie events. Black tie optional simply means you can switch a white shirt for a black shirt or wear a red or blue tie to add to your outfit. For women, this means flashier gowns in terms of style and colour. Philip Lim dresses are ideal for adding some flare to black tie creative events.
Typical black tie attire for men includes a full tuxedo with a dinner jacket, tux shirt and wing collar. Pants will be formal trousers with a cummerbund or vest. The tie should be a black bow tie or traditional tie. Another option is a blue tux. This look is generally associated with the 1970s, but the retro style is popular and it is a fun way to remain formal. In this case, the full outfit will include a light blue or navy blue tux mixed with a dinner jacket, tux shirt (usually a complementary colour blue), wing collar, pants and vest/cummerbund. Shinned dress shoes will complete the look.
Typical black tie attire for women includes a floor length gown. While shorter gowns may be acceptable, depending on the nature of the event, but floor length gowns tend to be more elegant. A three-quarters length dress will also work. Black is usually best, but other dark colours may also work well for the event. Accessories should include a satin or beaded purse or a smaller purse or clutch. Jewellery should be worn to accent the dress. Gauge your jewelry choices accordingly. You don't want to overshadow the gown. Silver is usually the better choice, especially with black or dark colours. Complete the look with evening shoes.
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