Skip to next element

Style a White Tie Like an Expert

Did you know white tie attire dates back to the 19th century? Although the dress code for these formal occasions hasn’t changed much over time, many people aren’t familiar with it. That’s because it’s not common these days and tends to be reserved for galas, state dinners, and other high-profile events. 

Usually, hosts avoid the white-tie dress code for weddings or parties since the expense of obtaining the proper clothing may deter guests from attending. As a result, this dress code has gradually declined in popularity since World War I. 

If you’ve been invited to an event with a formal dress code, you may wonder whether a white tie is acceptable — after all, it is formal! Or, you may just be curious about what this dress code entails, especially if you are hosting a party or attending one that requires the white-tie dress code. 

This article will help you decide when to wear a white tie outfit, as well as some tips for styling one! Keep reading to learn all you need to know about it! 

When to Style an Exquisite White Tie 

If you’ve been invited to a formal event, chances are your invitation mentions the black tie dress code. Black tie dress codes are characterized by a black bow tie, tuxedo, and white dress shirt. Although this seems as fancy as it gets, white-tie evening wear takes it a step further than black-tie events. Guests wear a white bow tie and a white dress shirt. It should be paired with a white waistcoat and topped with a black tailcoat with peaked lapels to create a monochrome look. 

Still, white-tie weddings or formal events are not common these days. So, unless your invitation specifically invites wedding guests or attendees to dress in this attire, you should avoid it since it would be considered overly formal. This is especially the case when you’re invitation stipulates a black tie dress code. It would be a fashion faux pas to come dressed in a white tie instead since this isn’t what the host invited you to do. 

If you’re heading to an event that allows you to dress this fancy but doesn’t specifically call for white-tie attire, you may be able to get away with it. Just be sure you understand the event before you go this route, and speak to the host if you are not completely sure. If this is the case, you could wear a white necktie instead of a bowtie, dressing down your monochrome outfit so that it isn’t quite as formal as is traditional. 

Tips on How to Style Your White Tie 

If you’re going to wear white tie attire, you’ll need to plan your black and white look carefully. 

Start with your tie, which should technically be a solid white bow tie (if you’re going to a white-tie event). Self-tie is standard, although you could get away with a pre-tied bow tie in most cases. If you decide to do your own thing and sport a white necktie, try to choose one that isn’t too busy and use a formal knot. The Double Windsor is a classic, and this tutorial on our blog can help you master it in a few easy steps. 

Here are some tips to guide you on the rest of your outfit, from the basics to the smallest details of your formal wear! 

Reach for a White Button-Up 

White ties and bow ties are best paired with a stark white button-up, as this is what the dress code calls for. The idea is that white shirts keep the white bow tie from standing out too much, as they would with a darker color. The result is an elegant ensemble that doesn’t draw too much attention. Your dress shirt should be formal and have a wing collar. 

Since wearing a waistcoat is part of the white tie dress code, you should make sure that it is also stark white and matches the shade of your dress shirt.

Even if you’re not following the white tie dress code, you should stick to the white dress shirt to create a classy monochrome look. In this case, any white dress shirt will do, but you may want to choose one with holes for cufflinks. 

Choose Subtle Fabric

The white tie outfit makes such a statement on its own, so subtlety is really key when it comes to details like fabrics. Avoid patterns and textures if possible, and try to get your dress shirt, bowtie, and waistcoat (if you wear one) in the same material. Most commonly, white pique is recommended. 

Match Accessories

In a similar way, your accessories should be simple and kept to a minimum. You don’t want to appear flashy with too many accessories or colorful ones, as this would be a faux pas. Rather, you should look effortlessly dapper with simple and carefully chosen pieces.

Even if you aren’t following the white-tie dress code to a tee, remember that less is more. A simple tie bar and matching cufflinks will do the trick, making sure they are the metals are the same color. 

Of course, when you’re headed to a white tie formal event, a bow tie will be required. Your cufflinks could be mother-of-pearl, which is extremely elegant on its own. These should also match your studs, which you’ll wear down the front of your dress shirt to keep it closed. 

Other common white tie accessories include:

  • White gloves: These are not necessary, but if you want to wear them, you’ll find a pocket in which to place them in the flap of your tailcoat. 

  • Top hat: Another accessory you could have fun with if you desire, but obviously not required for white tie dress codes. 

  • Suspenders: White suspenders are the norm and keep your ensemble in place and looking elegant. If you take off your tailcoat, they won’t be visible through your waistcoat, as they would be if you wear black. 

  • Pocket square or boutonniere: You can choose one of these, but not both. 

As for dress shoes, you’ll want to stick to black patent leather shoes with laces. Simple is best, so try to avoid shoes with designs or embellishments. Pair them with black silk socks. 

Stick to Dark Outerwear

The finishing touch on your white tie outfit is the outwear. In most cases, you should choose a black tailcoat. Since tailcoats aren’t that common these days, you may want to rent one. The alternative is finding a tailor to make you one, but this would be the pricier of the two options. Make sure that it is the same fabric and color as your pants. 

You may also wear a dark dinner jacket (either navy or black) if the event does not specifically call for a white tie dress code. 

Add Premium White Ties to Your Closet with PRIME Neckwear

After reading this post, you’re ready to put together a white-tie ensemble! PRIME Neckwear is the perfect place to find everything you need, from white bow ties to accessories. We have it all! Shop our white neckties and bow ties today! 

If you’d like to learn more about styling menswear, no matter the occasion, stop by our blog

Share on:

Leave a comment

How To Guides
How To Guides

Practice makes perfect. Learn how to tie a tie or bow tie by following our simple video guides.

see the guides
Free Shipping, Easy Returns & Exchanges
Free Shipping, Easy Returns & Exchanges

We offer FREE First Class Shipping for all US orders $50+ & free, easy 30-day returns and 60-day exchanges.

Best In Class Customer Service
Best In Class Customer Service

Need help? Contact us. We will do whatever it takes to make sure you are completely satisfied!