When it comes to the red carpet, it’s easy to get distracted by Clooney’s salt and pepper mane or Rami Malek’s jawline, but it’s important to hold celebs to the same standard we humans are measured by. Style is subjective, but “black tie” is one of the few real dress codes that still exist. There are honest-to-god rules men are expected to play by, which is great news! If we follow the code, we will always be wearing the correct outfit to black tie events.
Even so, seasoned Hollywood royalty can miss the mark in a tux. Does Leo’s jacket really need to be completely buttoned? Did Ruffalo get his sleeve length right? What do mortals and men alike need to consider when dressing for black tie? This guide crafted by the experts at The Black Tux, will help you avoid overly-trendy tailoring and red carpet regret with tips for nailing it from head to toe.
- Black, midnight blue, or navy tuxedo with a peak lapel or shawl collar.
- As an alternative, match a black velvet or white dinner jacket with black tuxedo pants.
- Tuxedos in any other color are not considered black tie, but are fair game if you’re heading to an awards show.
- Most tuxedo jackets have one button. If your jacket has two, only button the top button.
- The jacket should button comfortably without fabric pulling above or below the button.
- Lapels should not pop off the chest and the back of the jacket should not bunch up.
- The shoulders should not jut out more than a half-inch past your actual shoulders.
- Jacket sleeves should end at the small wrist bone above your hand.
- Correct jacket body length is subjective, but err on the side of shorter for a tailored look.
- Keep your pant length in check. Allow a small break—a half-break at most—on the top of the shoe. The pant should not end 2” above the ankle, and there should not be a pile of extra fabric on the shoe.
- Pants should taper to the ankle—slim, but not skinny. The fabric shouldn’t bunch up in the upper thigh or on the upper calves.
- Crisp and white.
- A pleated front is timeless. Keep it modern with narrow-width, tight pleats.
- A covered placket (or “fly-front”) shirt is a streamlined look if button studs are too serious.
- Sleeves should end just above your palm. If the jacket and shirt sleeves are each the right length, a quarter-inch of white shirt sleeve will show from under the jacket.
- Polished black leather lace-ups are good.
- Black patent leather lace-ups are better.
- If your black leather lace-ups have a white rubber sole, those are sneakers. Do not wear sneakers with a tuxedo.
- Wear them.
- Wear black socks.
- Bet on black.
- Butterfly and diamond are reliable, classic bow tie shapes.
- Tie your own bow tie. There are 10 year-olds whose knots would save your life in a pinch. Lucky for you, a bow tie isn’t nearly that complicated.
- Don’t wear the bow tie untied, draped around your neck like a small scarf.
- If you choose a necktie, match it to your tux lapels—usually black satin or grosgrain.
- Wear cufflinks.
- If you decide to wear button studs, coordinate them with your cufflinks.
- Stick to white cotton or silk pocket squares. Keep the fold simple. If it looks like a balloon animal you’re doing it wrong.
- Don’t wear sunglasses unless you are required to stare into the sun for an extended period of time.
- Keep your wristwatch low-key with a black leather band. If your watch comes fully-loaded with Indiglo, use the feature sparingly.