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Everything You Need to Know About a Black-Tie Dress

If you’re confused by the term ‘black-tie dress’, you wouldn’t be the first. How, exactly, do you attach a black tie to a dress? And even if you could, would it even look that good? (I think we all know the answer to that: no. That’s not to say that a bow—not to be confused with a bowtie—wouldn’t look great in your hair, though.) In case you haven’t picked up yet: ‘black-tie’ does not apply to the dress code—or, at least, not the women’s dress code. Men get it pretty easy here. If only the women’s dress code could be as self-explanatory!

Let’s be real here: ballgowns are absolutely what make a black-tie event. There’s a man in a tux and a woman in a stunning ballgown. Whose outfit will you linger on? (Trick question!) Let’s rename black-tie events to ballgown events. Who’s with us?! With all that said, let’s resume to the topic at hand. Here’s everything you need to know about a black-tie dress. (Glad we have established that there are no actual ties involved, black or otherwise.)

So, what is a black-tie event?

A black-tie event is likely the fanciest event you will be invited to in your lifetime. Of course, if you gain celebrity or royal status (or become affiliated with people of such calibre), you may find yourself at a white-tie event one day, but that is for the cream-of-the-crop, crema-of-the-coffee type crew. (A girl can still dream, though, right?)

If you have a floor-length gown, a black-tie event would be the time to wear it. We’re talking maxi cuts and mermaid trains. If you’re not a fan of dresses gathering at your toes, you can get away with a midi cut. Just so long as you’re not wearing a mini dress, you’ll be good to go.

Mermaid train: check. Single colour: check. Elegant and totally breathtaking? Check, check, check! The Audreyanna dress in burgundy is 100 per cent black-tie-appropriate. 

Another important thing to note is that a black-tie dress doesn’t actually have to be black. On the contrary, this is your chance to show off your favourite-coloured gown! Whatever colour you choose—and if you choose black, that is perfectly okay, by the way—just make sure you stick with it. This is not the time to sport patterned or multicoloured dresses, fabulous as they may be in any other context.

How should I accessorise my gown or dress?

In a word: lots! Again, this is one of the most formal events you’ll ever be invited to. If you have some jewellery you’ve been saving for a special occasion, now would be the time to bring them out. We’re talking Swarovski, Cartier, and Tiffany’s! Bring the bling—earrings, necklaces, and bracelets—that matches or offsets your outfit. Take the below model, for example:

Her earrings perfectly match her Vera gown in emerald. A couple of emerald-adorned, low-hanging fruits, these earrings add a seductive quality to what is already a pretty sexy gown. (You can tell that, even just by looking at the first half of it.) They are colour-matched to perfection, and the surrounding embellishments make her overall appearance more expensive-looking than it already is. On the other hand, here is an example of a well-contrasted set of earrings:

These Christie Nicolaides inspired earrings are encrusted in colour-matched beads, but their similarity to the rust-coloured Miriam gown ends there. Consisting of three stones in muted yet matching tones, the pale pinks and purples offset the vibrant, rust-coloured main event. They’re not understated, either. To add texture to these monotonal gowns, chunky bling is in order. It’s difficult to give a one-size-fits-all recommendation, but a good rule of thumb is to find something that will either match or complement your ensemble. You’ve got this.

What about my hair?

When it comes to black-tie events, partial or full up-dos are your go-tos. If you’re not a fan of this, then you can wear your hair loose, so long as it’s styled and tightly sharpened. It also wouldn’t hurt to add a sparkly headpiece into your hair. This may flirt with the line between ‘black-tie’ and ‘white-tie’ a little, but we’re all for that. Show them the best you have to offer!

Anything else to add?

If your upcoming black-tie event is a wedding, please don’t choose a white dress—or black, for that matter. You’d be better off choosing something more colourful yet neutral. Something like the Claudia dress in navy would work a treat:

Why are we going for glam yet understated? Quite simply, because we don’t want to outshine the bride. And it should be fairly obvious why we’re advising against white. Just because it’s someone else’s time to shine, however, doesn’t mean you can’t look gorgeous! Just don’t distract from the bridal party too much and you’ll be fine.

See also – Start a Plus Size lingerie

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