I. WHITE TIE: “I’m so fancy.”
Ladies: Bring out your best full length ball gown. This is as formal as you’re going to get with dress code. Long white gloves are optional. Make sure to get ready to this song.
Gentlemen: Black dress coat (tail coat) and matching trousers, shirt studs and cufflinks, white vest, white bow tie, black shoes and socks.
II. BLACK TIE: “Bond, James Bond.”
If an invitation states black tie, abide by the rules below:
Ladies: A night for you to look your most gorgeous! Embrace it and have fun. Wear a long formal gown (if you have the opportunity to wear one, my attitude is WHY NOT?) or a shorter fancy cocktail dress that is black tie appropriate. Colors to keep in mind for winter: jewel tones, emerald, ruby, amethyst and, of course, black. Bring out your best jewels and high heels and jazz it up!
Gentlemen: There’s really nothing as sophisticated as a man in black tie. He should wear a dinner jacket (also known as a tuxedo jacket) and matching trousers, bow tie, and cummerbund.
III. BLACK TIE for OPTIONAL: “Play it safe.”
As Oscar Wilde said “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” We tend to just play it safe and wear proper black tie:
Ladies: Same guidelines as black tie. Black tie optional is really geared more towards the gents.
Gentlemen: Dark suit (with a conservative tie and dark shoes) or a tuxedo if you’re feeling particularly Bond-esque.
IV. CREATIVE BLACK TIE: “Let’s get crafty!”
Eek! The dreaded confusing guideline of creative black tie, AKA black tie with a little whimsy. You can always err on the side of safety and dress in classic black tie, and if there’s a theme, add an element like a conversational hat or accessory.
V. DURING THE COLDER MONTHS: “Put down that Barbour jacket, and no one will get hurt.”
It’s time to invest in a proper formal overcoat.
Ladies: a fur or faux-fur shrug. A gorgeous velvet coat.
Gentlemen: classic overcoat and dapper scarf will do. Sadly, your down jacket, regardless of how cold is it outside, just does not fit the occasion.