Playing it Safe: A Woman’s Guide to Black Tie Attire

With a black tie invitation comes excitement and fear. What are you going to wear?  What are the expectations of your attire? We are going to break down your entire look from hair to dress to jewelry.



Choosing the right hairstyle depends on the gown. If your gown is strapless opt for an updo. A low bun is a timeless, yet chick way to add length and grace to your look. If you are looking to add a little drama to your look, while still staying within the safe range, go for a high bun. With a high bun for a formal event, your hair needs to be slicked back with a structured bun. This is not the time for a messy bun.


If you prefer your hair to be down and want an ultra glam look, we recommend a wavy, side swept look. For this you will want a deep side part. This timeless look calls for waves, not curls.


Make-up & Nails

Your nails should not be overlooked. The best way to ruin your look is to have unmanicured nails or over the top nails.  A french manicure or a nude palette is your safest option. If you want something a little more exciting, a safe bet is solid red polish. Nail design for black tie should maintain elegance. Basic is better. This isn’t the time to add rhinestones or art to your nails.


There are more options for make-up. For your eyes, it is totally accepted to have a dark smokey eye. It is still in the safe zone to have thicker eyeliner and even natural looking fake lashes. A riskier, yet acceptable look is the cat eye. For eye shadow, keep the color palette simple. This isn’t the best time for bright red or a bold green eye shadow experiment.


Lipstick is a great way to add boldness to your look, while still staying within the safe zone. You can choose a natural, nude color or go with a bright bold red lip. Bright pink can be a little tricky. Red is timeless, where pink can be a little tacky if your dress and hair aren’t on point. If you aren’t sure, but would like to add pizzazz to your look, opt for red.



Black tie used to mean black floor length dresses. This isn’t quite the case anymore. If you want to be in the absolute safe zone, a black floor length dress is appropriate. Now, you do still have options. The length of the dress still needs to stay below the knee. There are a few colors that are still acceptable. Red, royal blue (not a powdery, baby blue), emerald green, and even a deep pink. Colors that are not generally accepted are purple, yellow, orange (unless it is a reddish-orange, or pastels. Surprisingly, prints are in. There are several types of print you can choose from, but floral is the most popular. Be aware that you may be the only woman that is in color or print. If you are comfortable with the attention, rock it!



Jewelry is a great way to add fashion and show your personality while still staying in the safe zone. Statement jewelry can change your whole look, in a positive way. Statement jewelry is best when worn with the traditional black tie attire: black floor length dress. This isn’t the time for cheap costume jewelry. Real diamonds or precious gems are key.


The type of jewelry you choose, whether a ring, bracelet, or necklace depends on your dress. A strapless dress pairs nicely with a bold necklace, or even an elegant pearl necklace. A long sleeve dress goes great with a thick, bold bracelet. If you chosen a french manicure, a cocktail ring can add extra elegance to your look.


Black tie events can be stressful and a bit tricky to navigate. Even though it is black tie, you can still show off your personality, while still adhering the guidelines of this attire. Whether it’s your dress, hair or accessories, elegance is a must.