Black Tie & White Tie Dress Code for Women

Hollywood coupled dressed in black-tie dress and tuxedo

Whether your friends are hosting a celebration or you have received a wedding invitation, you start wondering what to wear. Especially if on the invitation is a small label: black-tie or white-tie dress code.

So, know that you know that casual wear is not going to work, you need to find out the perfect attire. Do you really know what black and white tie dress codes mean? If not, look no further. We gathered all the information you need.

What is a Black-Tie Dress Code?

Black-tie is a dress code for social occasions and celebrations that occur after 6 PM. It can be translated to an attire that is fancy, elegant, and glamorous, according to the party you are heading to. The term originally refers to man fashion. When some event is a black-tie, men should wear tuxedos, a white shirt, and of course, a black bow or tie.

Black-tie dress code explained

What is a White-Tie Dress Code?

White-tie dress code is defined as the most formal attire. It typically means you should wear a floor-length dress for women and a black jacket with tails and matching pants for men.

White code has practically disappeared nowadays. It is uncommon for modern weddings to have a white-tie dress code for guests. However, it involved in the 19th century, while beginning to disappear right after World War I.

White-tie dress code explained

Black-Tie vs White-Tie: What’s The Difference?

The biggest difference between black and white tie events is in higher formality. Regarding this, white-tie is higher than black-tie. Also, when it comes to fashion, there are some differences as well. While you should wear a white bow tie for white-tie events, you should certainly wear a black one for black-tie events. Logically, right?

Black-tie events can require different dress styles. From cocktail dresses to the evening ones – you can wear whatever you think will be appropriate. However, for white-tie events, you should choose floor-length gowns exclusively.

What to Wear to a Black-Tie Event?

Women are often confused about the black-tie dress code. While some say you can wear other things rather than a dress, in most cases dresses are an obligatory part of this dress code.

Apart from the white-tie dress code, black-tie is apparently more common. Some women don’t even own floor-length dresses, and it is a problem for them to choose one. No problem, since a black-tie event allows you to wear a cocktail dress as well. You should pick one in the rich, vivid shade, keep the embellishments at the bare minimum, and pick a silhouette that helps you nail the etiquette.

This stormy blue off-the-shoulder floor-length dress is a real representative of a black-tie dress code. It will surely match the occasion.

A-Line Off-the-Shoulder Floor-Length Chiffon Evening Dress With Beading Sequins Split Front
Dress ID: 189675

What to Wear to a White-Tie Event?

Since the white-tie dress code has a higher formality than the black-tie one women are supposed to wear floor-length gowns with sparkly jewelry. Like you see in the movies about families in old castles and their dances. You can even put on gloves or a tiara if you are married or a bride-to-be.

Whatever you are in doubt about what to wear for a white-tie event, choose a floor-length dress in some elegant fabric and put on your most glamorous pieces of jewelry. You should stay away from anything semi-formal and cocktail dresses.

In this creamy ball-gown satin dress, you will look and feel like a real princess. The color, the cut, and lace sleeves are perfect for any white-tie event. Add jewelry or if you feel bold enough go for white gloves.

Ball-Gown/Princess Off-the-Shoulder Sweep Train Satin Prom Dresses With Sequins
Dress ID: 187220

FAQ About Black-Tie or White-Tie Dress Codes

If you still have some questions about black or white tie events, check out these FAQs. We tried to gather them all.

Can You Wear a White-Tie to a Black-Tie Event?

Yes, you can wear a white-tie dress to a black-tie event. The evening dress is more than welcome for both of these events, so it doesn’t really matter what the dress code is. However, be careful not to look far more formal than other people on the black-tie event, since the white-tie dress has a higher formality vibe.

What do You Wear to a White-Tie Wedding?

When it comes to women white-tie attire for a wedding, floor-length dresses are pretty much non-negotiable. If you are channeling your inner princess, then you can put on white gloves as well. Otherwise, they are probably not obligatory. So, if there is a white-tie dress code on your wedding invitation, you know what to do – a long evening dress it is. 

A-Line/Princess V-neck Floor-Length silk like satin Evening Dress With Ruffle
Dress ID: 20657

What Does Black-Tie Optional Means?

If you have received an invitation that says black-tie optional, it means that both men and women have multiple choices. Men can choose to wear or to skip tuxedos. On the other hand, women can opt for cocktail dresses. Keep in mind that knee-length is still preferred, and slits should be avoided.

Can You Wear Red to Black or White-Tie Events?

What is the deal with red color and black-tie or white-tie events? Historically, red is thought to be a way too provocative to wear for elegant occasions. It is a vivid, sexy color that attracts too much attention. Some women avoid it even nowadays, especially at weddings.

Nowadays there are plenty of red style dresses that are considered as high fashion. You should definitely avoid body-hugging fits, plunging necklines, and inappropriate fabrics, but you can definitely wear red to any black or white-tie event.

A-Line Off-the-Shoulder Sweep Train Chiffon Evening Dress With Ruffle Split Front
Dress ID: 105882

What to Wear to Black-Tie Wedding?

As long as you stay away from black and white dresses, you can wear all the other styles you want for a black-tie wedding. Knee-length, cocktail dresses, or a full gown – the choice is definitely yours.

Can You Wear Short Dress to Black-Tie Event?

Sure you can! However, watch out not to pick a dress that is too short. Knee or just above the knee length would be just perfect for black-tie events. You know the rule – if it is short, then keep your bodice embellishments on minimal and neckline closed and appropriate.

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