The Official Dos and Don’ts of Black-Tie Attire for Women

If you’re headed to a formal event that calls for a strict dress code, you’ve landed in the right spot. Cocktail attire, semi-formal, white tie—ring any bells? While all the aforementioned dress codes read “fancy,” what’s really the difference between them all? Are there strict rules? If so, what are they? Well today, we’re here to take a deep dive into one dress code, in particular, and that would be black-tie attire for women.

To get a second opinion on the matter, we reached out to celebrity stylist Sarah Nearis for her expert opinion. Let’s be honest: If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about formal dressing, it’s her. “Some people dread black-tie events, but they are my favorite because it gives me an excuse to go all out. I love the opportunity to get glammed up, but there are some dos and don’ts when it comes to black-tie events,” says Nearis. We’re curious to discover what they are. Read on as she walks us through her official dos and don’ts on appropriate black-tie attire for women. Take notes, people—we promise this will come in handy one day.

“While black tie doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wear a full-length gown, if you’ve been waiting for the right opportunity, now is your chance. If you choose to wear something that doesn’t go all the way to the floor, an appropriate length is something a little below the knee.”

“When it comes to footwear, have some fun, but keep it classy and chic. If you’re wearing a gown, this is an opportunity to wear your highest heel, but make sure they are comfortable and offer you plenty of support. You’ll be socializing and standing a good amount of the night, so comfort is key to help you enjoy your night. Regardless of the length of your dress, a black-tie event isn’t the ideal setting for anything of crazy color or overly sexy straps. It’s important to choose the perfect shoes that best accentuate your outfit. Crazy platform pumps or lace-up-to-the-knee sandals should be left at home.”

“FYI—a black dress is not required. I recommend sticking to rich jewel-tone colors and nothing too bright.”

“The nicer the event, the better the excuse to rock some of your finer pieces of jewelry and accessories. This is the perfect opportunity to wear that vintage necklace or cocktail ring. If you don’t have a stash of jewels, I love wearing glitzier accessories like a pump or clutch that has some sort of stone or jewels on it. I love Roger Vivier clutches and shoes for occasions like this!” 

“This kind of event isn’t best to show them off. Black tie calls for a longer, sophisticated hemline, so the minidresses will have to sit this one out.”

This post was published at an earlier date and has since been updated. Next up, shop the basics celebrity stylists think everyone should have in their closet

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