Black silk, either satin or grosgrain weave to match the lapels and bow tie.
Fur, generally reserved for races, is too informal elsewhere.
Collapsible, or crusher hats, are appropriate for the opera, but hard shells are preferred.
The height of the crown should not exceed eight inches.
Obviously it should be removed when indoors.
White cotton pique bow tie.
Hand tied is most suitable.
Also known as a Swallow Tail Coat.
The standard White Tie evening dress.
A tail coat has a horizontal cutaway design, waist length at the front and sides and knee length at the back.
Single cuffed and winged.
True traditionalists have detachable collar and cuffs.
Two satin seams (braid) on the outside leg.
No turn ups/cuffs. No belt loops (normally worn with braces or incorporate side adjusters).
No toe cap or decorative brogueing.
Patent leather in the evening, non-patent leather during the day.
Court Shoes / Opera Shoes / Formal Shoes
Silk (ribbed) bow.
A loose over garment which covers the wearer and their evening dress from shoulders to ankles, normally fastening at the neck. There are no arms.
Wool, cashmere, velvet, satin, silk and fur are all common materials for evening cloaks.
Good quality linings and trimmings.
Preferably black or gold.
Preferably black or gold.
To support the trousers.
White silk or linen.
A flower for your jacket button hole.
Black Tie and Evening Dresses
White Tie or full formal dress is actually very rare in the modern era and only normally required at Royal events, high class opera or ballet, or by the wedding party at a marriage ceremony.
As a result, formal dress often means Black Tie
and Evening Dresses
in common usage (what was historically known as semi-formal dress).
Christmas dinners, award ceremonies, proms, and charity dinners, all commonly expect Black Tie
, but may often be described as formal. This is often worth clarifying to avoid mis-understandings.
Military Dress Uniform
A military mess uniform is suitable for a formal event.
You must be entitled to wear the uniform.
In the navy 'Mess Dress' is worn for formal events.
Scottish dress is suitable for formal events, and is common in Scotland. However, you should be sure to have a claim upon a tartan before wearing it.
Scottish dress consists of a black jacket (Prince Charlie, Montrose, Sheriffmuir, Argyll, Regulation Doublets), black waistcoat, kilt or trews (a form of high top trouser without side seams, and cut on the cross-grain), collarless dress shirt (see above), white bow tie or lace jabot, kilt hose, black Ghillie brogues, flashes and sporran.
Traditional dress is always appropriate for formal events.
Formal and Semi-Formal
In high society, White Tie
and Ball Gowns was the standard formal form of dress for social gatherings. It shows the wealth of the upper classes and their familiarity of etiquette, and is still expected at the very highest class of event.
However, such elaborate presentation is not very practical for frequent usage, and so the semi-formal dress code Black Tie
, consisting of Dinner Jackets
and Evening Dress
or even the shorter Cocktail Dress
was established, for dining in a sophisticated manner, without the impracticalities and lavishness of full formal dress. Overtime, this has become the more standard form of dress for most formal events.