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Receiving a summer wedding invitation with the words "black tie" intimidates a lot of folks. Few people are sure of the proper attire for a black tie event. A formal event in the summer brings questions about correct dress length and the appropriate fabric for a man's suit. The confusion doesn't end with fancy weddings. Parties and weddings can fit under a number of categories such as white tie, black tie optional, creative black tie and semi-formal. Determining the proper clothes for each occasion calls for a little advice from Emily Post and other experts of etiquette and fashion.
You've probably been familiar with the proper dress for semi-formal affairs since your high school homecoming. A June wedding, for instance, calls for a short cocktail dress or afternoon dress. Avoid a dress made of a jersey fabric and stick to silk, chiffon, taffeta or tulle. Men should wear a suit with a conservative tie, dress shirt and matching vest. A seersucker suit or linen suit isn't dressy enough. A little black dress is another option for women, but some still feel black inappropriate for a wedding. Semi-formal attire also includes a long dressy skirt and top or dressy separates.
"White tie" clothing is a mystery to most party goers. White tie, however, isn't complicated for women. A floor-length evening gown is your only option for this type of party. Men must wear a black tailcoat with matching trousers; the trousers should have a single braid or stripe down the outside of each pant leg. Men should also have a white vest, white shirt, white bow tie and white studs and cufflinks -- as well as white or gray dress gloves and black patent shoes.
A black tie event means getting out your dressiest cocktail dress or a formal floor-length gown. Any dress made of a jersey fabric is too informal. Men require a black tuxedo with matching trousers, black studs, black cufflinks, a black bow tie and a black cummerbund. Summer black tie events, in the past, meant men could wear a white dinner jacket instead of a black tuxedo jacket. While the rule still applies, many summer weddings have full black tuxedos minus the white dinner jackets.
Black Tie Optional
"Black tie optional" and "creative black tie" give guests a little more freedom to choose what to wear. Creative black tie allows men to mix a tuxedo jacket and pants with a colorful shirt, tie and cummerbund. Black tie optional means guests can choose to wear a tuxedo and formal length gown, if desired. If not, a dressy cocktail dress and semi-formal men's suit will do. It's best to check with the event planners when "creative black tie" is on the invitation. Some events have specific requests for a certain color scheme.