Black Tie vs. White Tie

What's the Difference?

Black Tie and White Tie are two formal dress codes commonly seen at special events and occasions. Black Tie is a more relaxed and modern dress code, typically requiring men to wear a black tuxedo, a white dress shirt, a black bow tie, and black dress shoes. Women usually opt for elegant evening gowns or cocktail dresses. On the other hand, White Tie is the most formal dress code, often reserved for prestigious events. Men are expected to wear a black tailcoat, a white wing-collar shirt, a white bow tie, and black patent leather shoes. Women are required to wear floor-length ball gowns, gloves, and elaborate jewelry. While both dress codes exude sophistication, White Tie is considered more traditional and extravagant, while Black Tie offers a slightly more contemporary and accessible option.


Black Tie
Photo by LOGAN WEAVER | @LGNWVR on Unsplash
AttributeBlack TieWhite Tie
FormalityVery formalMost formal
Dress CodeTuxedo, black bow tieTailcoat, white bow tie
OccasionsEvening events, weddingsState dinners, royal events
Shirt ColorWhiteWhite
Tie ColorBlackWhite
Waist CoveringCummerbund or vestVest
FootwearBlack formal shoesBlack patent leather shoes
White Tie
Photo by Adrian "Rosco" Stef on Unsplash

Further Detail


When it comes to formal events, dressing appropriately is essential. Two of the most formal dress codes are Black Tie and White Tie. While both require a high level of elegance and sophistication, there are distinct differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the attributes of Black Tie and White Tie attire, highlighting their unique characteristics and helping you understand when to wear each.

Black Tie

Black Tie is a dress code commonly seen at formal events such as weddings, galas, and evening parties. It is less formal than White Tie but still demands a refined appearance. The key elements of Black Tie attire include a black tuxedo, a white dress shirt, a black bow tie, and black formal shoes. Additionally, a black cummerbund or waistcoat is often worn to complete the ensemble.

Black Tie allows for some personalization and style choices within its framework. For example, you can opt for a single-breasted or double-breasted tuxedo jacket, and you have the freedom to choose between a peaked lapel, a shawl collar, or a notched lapel. This flexibility allows individuals to express their personal taste while adhering to the overall Black Tie aesthetic.

Accessories play a crucial role in Black Tie attire. A pocket square, cufflinks, and a formal watch can elevate the look and add a touch of individuality. However, it is important to remember that simplicity and elegance should be the guiding principles when selecting accessories for a Black Tie event.

Black Tie is often associated with a sense of sophistication and modernity. It exudes a refined and polished appearance, making it suitable for a wide range of formal occasions. Whether attending a charity ball or a high-profile business event, Black Tie attire ensures you will look sharp and stylish.

White Tie

White Tie is the epitome of formal attire, reserved for the most prestigious and exclusive events. It is the dress code typically seen at royal events, state dinners, and high-level diplomatic gatherings. White Tie demands the utmost elegance and adherence to tradition.

The centerpiece of White Tie attire is the tailcoat, also known as a "dress coat." This coat is typically black and features long tails at the back, reaching to the knees. The dress shirt is always white and has a wing collar, which is a distinctive feature of White Tie. A white bow tie, often made of cotton piqué, is worn with the dress shirt.

White Tie requires a high level of attention to detail. The trousers should be black and have a satin stripe running down the sides. The waistcoat, also known as a vest, is typically white and made of piqué fabric. It should cover the waistband of the trousers completely. Patent leather shoes, black silk socks, and white gloves complete the White Tie ensemble.

Unlike Black Tie, White Tie leaves little room for personalization. The dress code is steeped in tradition and has remained largely unchanged for centuries. This strict adherence to tradition is what sets White Tie apart and contributes to its aura of exclusivity and formality.

White Tie is the pinnacle of elegance and is reserved for the most formal and prestigious events. It conveys a sense of grandeur and importance, making it the perfect choice for occasions where the highest level of decorum is expected.


While both Black Tie and White Tie represent formal dress codes, they differ significantly in terms of formality, tradition, and personalization. Black Tie offers more flexibility and allows individuals to express their style within the framework of a tuxedo, while White Tie demands strict adherence to tradition and leaves little room for personalization.

Understanding the attributes of each dress code is crucial to ensure you dress appropriately for any formal event. Whether you opt for the modern sophistication of Black Tie or the timeless elegance of White Tie, both attire options guarantee a refined and polished appearance that will make you stand out in any formal setting.

Comparisons may contain inaccurate information about people, places, or facts. Please report any issues.