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Can You Wear A Necktie To A Black Tie Event?

December 21, 2022
Can You Wear A Necktie To A Black Tie Event?

Black tie events don’t come around often, so it’s only natural that you want to look the part. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information out there on what you should and shouldn’t wear to a black tie event. So, can you wear a necktie to a black tie event? 

It’s recommended that you avoid wearing a necktie to a black tie event. A necktie is worn with business suits and other jackets, such as a lounge jacket. The necktie is considered less formal than a bow tie meaning it would be unsuitable for a black tie event. 

Although that’s the short answer, there’s much more to it. 

Read on as we explore why you shouldn’t wear a necktie to a black tie event and some exceptions to the rule. 

Let’s get to it. 

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Wear A Necktie To A Black Tie Event

Consider all of these reasons before making your decision. 

1. “Black Tie” Is Different To “Formal” 

When talking about a black tie dress code, it usually means a black tuxedo as the main component. 

man in tuxedo
A tuxedo should always be worn with a bow tie, not a necktie

Image From Deposit Photos

It’s easy to get confused between a tuxedo and a regular, formal suit as they can look similar. However, there are a few noticeable differences. 

Satin is usually always present on a tuxedo, which gives it a much more formal, elegant look than a classic business suit. 

For this reason, you shouldn’t wear a necktie with a tuxedo to a black tie event – it will cause a formality mismatch. 

Even in black, a necktie will stand out as less formal on a tuxedo because of the presence of the satin, and regardless of the price of the tie, it will make it appear of lower quality. 

It’s worth mentioning that wearing a black business suit to a black tie event would be a mistake too. It’s a common misconception that a black tie event simply requires wearing black – even though there’s much more to it.

Despite being the same color, the formality contrast will be immediately noticeable as the lack of satin and satin lapels would detract from the much more elegant look.

When deciding what to wear to a black tie event, it’s best to just stick to tradition – wearing a black bow tie. After all, it’s tradition for a reason.  

2. You’ll Stand Out

As previously mentioned, black tie events don’t come around often. Therefore, it would be a shame to potentially ruin your night by being the odd one out.

While it may sound melodramatic, it’s entirely possible. You could feel embarrassed, or somebody could point it out – drawing unnecessary attention to you. You shouldn’t put yourself in that situation, especially when it can be avoided. 

Therefore, it’s best to avoid wearing a necktie to a black tie event entirely.

It’s likely that everybody will adhere to the dress code, particularly if this is for an evening wedding or an award ceremony. 

And adhering to the dress code when it’s a black tie event means wearing a tuxedo with a black bow tie. 

3. It Shows A Lack Of Effort 

The final reason you shouldn’t wear a necktie to a black tie event is that other attendees could perceive it as a lack of effort on your part. 

This is the last impression you’ll want to give, as it could be seen as disrespectful to the organizer or host. 

It would be extremely unwise to cause friction of this kind because black tie events are often important milestones or meaningful events. 

The dress code has been given and set for a reason, so you should always make a concerted effort to meet its requirements – a bow tie is expected.

2 Exceptions When A Necktie Might Be OK For Black Tie Events

With all of those points considered, it’s worth saying that there are a few exceptions to the rule. 

Let’s dig a little deeper.

1. Last-Minute Invitation

Let’s set the scene. 

You were invited to a friend’s wedding. Unfortunately, you’re away for business the day of the ceremony. 

Turns out, you got the dates wrong, and you’re flying back on the morning of the ceremony, only realizing on the plane home. 

On top of that, the dress code is black tie, and you’d only have half an hour to get ready and leave to make it in time. 

You don’t own a bow tie, so your only option is a black tie. 

In situations like these, it’s acceptable to attend a black tie event wearing a necktie. 

There’s nothing you could have done, and apologizing and explaining this to the host would go a long way.

You might have to explain a couple of times during the event, but at least you made it to your friend’s wedding.

An important day for both parties and one you really shouldn’t miss over something as simple as having the wrong type of tie.

2. If It’s “Black Tie Optional”

Black tie optional can be a dilemma for some people. Does it mean black ties are optional, black tie is optional, or you can dress formally, not necessarily in black tie? 

There is no official definition for ‘black tie optional’ but it’s widely accepted that it means you can wear black tie. However, while black tie is preferred, you can also wear dark dinner jackets or business suits.

This is good news for those wondering if you can wear a necktie to such an event because the answer is yes, you can. 

The word ‘optional’ is a green light for if you want to dress up a little less than a full tuxedo and bow tie. 

3 Tips For Wearing A Necktie To A Black Tie Event (If You Have To)

If, after reading through this article, you still need to wear a necktie to a black tie event, these top tips will help you style it out in the best way possible. 

1. Wear A White Jacket 

Some could see this as a controversial choice because not everyone is set on a white tuxedo jacket. 

With that being said, wearing a white tuxedo jacket with black trousers would elevate your outfit to the next level of formality compared to a regular black jacket and black trouser combination. 

The angle of attack here is that by wearing a contrasting color for your jacket, what you’re missing in elegance from the bow tie, you make up for with the boldness of the white tuxedo jacket and black necktie. 

As mentioned, a white tuxedo jacket isn’t for everyone but always looks stylish when done right, and with a black necktie and black trousers, it would look great as an alternative to a black tuxedo and black necktie. 

2. Black & Skinny Tie Is Best 

If you’ll be attending a black tie event wearing a necktie, it’s advisable to ensure it’s a skinny, black tie. 

This would bring less attention to yourself and your ‘faux pas,’ making it easier to deal with once you are there.  

The regular tie will look extremely out of place with a tuxedo due to its width and association with the classic business suit. 

3. Consider A Tie Bar

Small and subtle; the tie bar would be a great addition to your ensemble. 

As you will be attending a black tie event without the bow tie, you need all the help you can get to make yourself look more formal. 

A shiny, polished silver tie bar will help you achieve that look and is a straightforward way to elevate your outfit up a notch. 


As we’ve discussed throughout this article, attending a black tie event with a necktie isn’t advised. However, some situations are unavoidable, and the next best thing is to wear a necktie. If you’ll be wearing one, considering the tips above is recommended.