Black Tie Wedding Guest Dress

Are you unsure about what is a black tie wedding guest dress? We’ll help you know what style and look is appropriate for this very formal wedding dress code by discussing the best colors, silhouettes, and fabrics that suit black tie. 

You will also know wedding guest dresses for plus size and older women attending black tie weddings. But for other fashion tips, you can read what to wear to a black-tie wedding, as this content thoroughly explains the dress code. 

black tie wedding guest dress


Flattering Black Tie Wedding Guest Dress Ideas


Black Tie Wedding Guest Dress Colors

Jewel tones and sparkly colors are preferred for black tie wedding guest dresses. You can never go wrong with long black gowns, maxi dresses in sparkly silver, or jewel tones like dark red or green for your black tie wedding guest dress. 

The formal dress code is also typically indoors and held in the evening, so it’s only fitting that the top color choice for the party is a dark color. Still, pick something that won’t make you stand out as it’s a wedding meant to highlight the bright and groom. 


Black Tie Wedding Guest Dress Silhouettes

When picking black tie dresses and gowns for weddings, the silhouette includes a long sheath or A-line styles. The wedding guests might also wear fitted dresses, but be mindful of those that are very attention-grabbing to avoid seeming like you’re trying to upstage the bride. 

Long lengths for the black tie wedding guest dress are preferred so that you can opt for a long gown or a tea-length A-line dress. You can go for maxi dresses, but guests who prefer something that doesn’t drag on the floor can pick a look above the ankles. 


Black Tie Wedding Guest Dress Fabrics

The formal black tie dress code means picking wedding guest dresses with luxurious fabrics you’ll often see at an evening party. Think of long maxi dresses, tea-length A-line dresses, or long black gowns made from silk, chiffon, or even velvet.

The guest can also wear a dress with lace details for a glamorous look, but be mindful of the placements to avoid looking too sexy for the wedding. Another option is to pick a dress with sequin embellishments to create a festive style, as some couples doing a black tie dress code usually have a red carpet theme party. 


Black Tie Wedding Guest Dress For Plus Size

What option can a plus-size wedding guest wear for a black tie party? Long dresses in dark colors are preferred for the formal dress code and flattering for plus-size guests. 

You can also consider a long wrap-style dress that goes over the ankles and feature a flaring skirt to accentuate your curves and cinch the waist. And, of course, the neckline and sleeve style of the wedding guest dress affects your overall look. 


Black Tie Wedding Guest Dress For Older Women

Older wedding guests can still wear dresses that feature sparkles. A flattering style combines sparkly or embellished details with simple fabrics. 

For example, the dress’s bodice might be embellished with dark gray sequins, while the dress’ skirt is a simple black fabric. Older guests can also opt for long evening gowns and dresses with an asymmetrical off-shoulder neckline or long sleeves that are not fitted around the arms. 


How Formal Is A Black Tie Wedding?

A black tie wedding is more formal than a formal dress code, but it’s not the most formal wedding dress code. There are also white-tie weddings, which are considered the most formal dress code. 


Take your formal look one step up

Now, how formal is a black tie wedding, and what makes it more formal than the usual formal dress code? The easiest way to explain black tie is to imagine what outfit option you’ll wear to a formal party but elevate and make it more luxurious.

It might mean picking a long gown, going for fabrics like velvet, or finding a style with embellishments. Men, on the other hand, are expected to wear tuxedos for a black tie wedding.

However, this doesn’t mean you’ll pick a very glamorous look for the wedding and get more attention than the bride and groom. Just add more flair to your formal look, which can mean wearing the right jewelry, accessories, hairstyle, and makeup. 


Black-tie versus formal wedding dress code

Black tie is more elevated than something a guest will wear for a formal wedding. If you’re attending a formal wedding or the invitation indicates black-tie optional, you’re not required to wear a long gown or tuxedo.

However, you still want to avoid semi-formal outfits like very short dresses or buttoned shirts without a suit. When in doubt, check the wedding website, as the couple might have given examples of what to wear.


How Should I Dress For A Black Tie Wedding?


Female wedding guests

An evening dress is the best choice for a female guest attending a black tie wedding. Long gowns are also preferred, but it’s possible to pick a style slightly above the ankles if it’s more practical for the wedding venue. 

However, don’t assume you can pick short dresses or those over the knees. And when finding a long evening gown, it’s better to avoid something overdressed so that you’d look more like the bride than the bride herself. 

As for the shoes, it’s better to pick closed-toe pumps for a fancier look than open-toed sandals. Dressy flats are also acceptable for comfort in some wedding venues. 


Male wedding guests

If female wedding guests are expected to wear long gowns or maxi dresses in black-tie weddings, the top choice for male wedding guests is a tuxedo. You also want to pair the tuxedo with the right shirt, bow tie, and dress shoes for a dapper and neat look. 

In some black tie events, guests also have the option to wear suits. However, pick something that suits you perfectly, as a tailored suit greatly affects the man’s overall look. 

You can also use the time, venue, and season of the wedding to know what color suit will make sense for the black tie party. Unless explicitly stated, a morning or afternoon wedding won’t need guests in midnight suits. 


Do you have to wear black to a black-tie wedding?

Black is the top choice for wedding guest dresses and outfits for a black-tie dress code because it’s formal and flattering. However, you also have other color options like dark red, green, or blue jewel tones.

Men can wear other colors of formal suits, especially for a hot summer wedding. On the other hand, women can go for other light earth tones, but of course, avoid a long white evening dress as the look is very bridal. 

If dark colors are required, and it’s a daytime or afternoon wedding, you can always get comfortable with your fabric choice. But of course, you still want a formal look for the party, so avoid dresses and suits with a style that’s more appropriate for a casual affair. 


What Is The Difference Between Black Tie And White Tie?


White tie is more formal than black tie

The white-tie dress code is more formal than the black-tie dress code. You can imagine outfits seen in affairs like state dinners, which is why the white tie dress code is not common in weddings. 

But if you attend a white-tie wedding, you have no other option besides a formal evening gown that reaches the floor for women and a tuxedo outfit for men. The latter should also include a white vest, formal white shirt, bow tie, gloves, and Oxfords. 


Black tie is less formal than white tie

On the other hand, black tie weddings are less formal and stick than the white tie dress code. However, guest outfits are more stylish than you expect at a formal wedding. 

Female guests can wear a sophisticated cocktail dress or even a pantsuit with this dress code. Conversely, men might get away with tuxedo trousers and a dinner jacket for hot or afternoon weddings. 

You might also find the term black tie optional on the wedding invitation. You’ll wear a formal outfit for this dress code, but tuxedos and evening gowns aren’t required. 

Read what to wear to a black tie optional wedding to know more. 


What Should You Not Wear To Black-Tie?

Guests must remember two main considerations when deciding what to wear to a black-tie wedding. You don’t want to arrive underdressed or overdressed. 


Look sophisticated but not over the top

Your outfit should look sophisticated, and the style should be more elevated than what you’ll wear to a formal party. On the other hand, guests should be mindful not to upstage the bride or groom with their fashion choice. 

This means avoiding long white evening gowns or tuxedos that will make you stand out because of their details. You shouldn’t also wear mini dresses and the “shortest” length typically acceptable to black tie weddings is tea-length or slightly above the ankles. 

And, of course, men should wear the appropriate shirt, pants, and shoes with their suit or tuxedo. Finally, finish your look with dress shoes such as Oxfords for men or closed-toed heels for women. 

Here is a list of what to avoid wearing at a black-tie wedding:

  • Over-the-top gowns
  • White dresses or gowns
  • Dresses with very deep necklines, low backs, high slits, or see-through panels
  • Suits without a tie or the appropriate shirt
  • Denim or jeans
  • Sneakers
  • Flip flops
  • Casual sandals


Can You Wear Florals To A Black-Tie Wedding?

It’s possible to wear a floral print for your black tie wedding guest dress, but always check the invitation as the couple might specifically state the colors they want for the guests. Floral prints might be seen in formal guest maxi dresses on summer, morning, or afternoon black-tie weddings. 

Other subtle patterns can make tuxedos more interesting, especially for a destination wedding. Overall, a black-tie wedding doesn’t mean guests can only wear black, but it will make you feel more at ease if you know you won’t stand out with your floral look at the black-tie party. 


Do You Have To Wear A Full-Length Dress To A Black-Tie Wedding?

It’s recommended to wear a full-length dress to a black tie wedding because this creates a more upscale look than other formal dresses. Think of long evening gowns or floor-length maxi dresses in black or dark colors for a black-tie wedding. 

But in some black tie weddings, especially where a full-length gown won’t be practical for the venue, it’s also acceptable to wear a tea-length or sophisticated cocktail dress. 

You can get away with a pantsuit if you style it with the right accessories, bag, or shoes. And, of course, if you’re wearing a full-length dress to a wedding, it shouldn’t look like a bridal gown, so steer clear of white dresses with bridal embellishments like lace or stones. 


Can you wear a short dress to a black-tie wedding?

Ideally, the shortest dress that suits a black-tie wedding is a cocktail or tea-length dress. Short or mini dresses can look casual and won’t suit the sophisticated and formal dress code. 

And when picking a cocktail dress, you want a fancy style or those features fabrics like velvet or satin. You don’t want to wear anything higher than mid-calf for a black tie wedding. 

Finally, be mindful of cocktail dresses that look more suitable for clubs. Ensure you’re not showing too much skin, and pair the formal dress with tasteful jewelry like diamonds, an elegant clutch bag, and sleek dress heels. 


What Do I Wear To A Black-Tie Wedding Without A Tux?

A tuxedo should be your top option as a male guest attending a black-tie wedding. However, it’s possible to wear a suit in some black-tie weddings, but make sure the style is at par with other formal men’s outfits at the black-tie wedding. 

Invest in a tailored suit and pick colors like gray, navy, or black to look formal. You should also wear a bow tie with the look and only wear dress pants and shoes to avoid looking casual. 



And that’s it! We hope this guide for black tie wedding guest dress has helped you come up with the best outfit for the wedding. 

For a quick recap, long dresses like maxi or even full-length evening gowns are preferred for black tie weddings. However, you might also wear a tea-length or sophisticated cocktail dress in some black-tie weddings if a floor-length dress won’t be practical for the venue. 

But overall, you only need to remember to look sophisticated but never overdress. 

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