"Black tie" may just be two little words at the bottom of a wedding invitation, but it can fill you with worry about what, exactly, you are to wear. By now, you likely know that the term means the wedding will be formal and you're expected to show up draped in elegance. But there are a few other small rules to follow in order to truly meet the expectations set up by that invitation.
While short, sequined flirty skirts may be appropriate wear for black tie restaurants, they are completely inappropriate for black tie weddings. In most cases, you're expected to wear a formal, floor length gown. Keep your little black dress in the closet for this wedding, and look for a dress that covers you more completely. If the wedding ceremony itself is being held in a church, it's likely that you'll need to cover up much of your chest and back to gain admittance. While your figure may allow you to pull of a plunging neckline, the bride's aunts and great-aunts may throw you to the curb if you show up in a dress that's too revealing. If you simply must wear a low-cut or backless dress, look for a wrap you can keep on throughout the entire wedding. You can remove it at the reception and show yourself off. Very tight skirts are similarly out of place, as you'll reveal too much to show respect for the bride and groom's church.
It's long been said that white dresses are reserved for the bride on the wedding day and all guests should steer clear. This is no longer a hard-and-fast rule, but you should accessorize with a bright color should you choose to wear white. Add a red hat or a pink scarf, to demonstrate that you're not trying to look like a bride yourself. Similarly, the prohibition on black dresses at a wedding no longer applies, but you should once again accessorize with color to demonstrate that you're not in mourning for the impending marriage. Black dresses are particularly appropriate for weddings taking place indoors at night.
Many guests think of the red carpet on Oscar night as they shop for a black tie dress. These guests look for dresses in luxuriant fabrics such as silk or satin. They steer clear of revealing, vampish dresses and head for the racks containing dresses full of old-school glamour. Once they've chosen the perfect dress, these guests accessorize to the hilt, pulling out all of their fancy necklaces and bracelets. Evening bags are a must, particularly if they contain beaded details and fancy colors. Hats, particularly hats with netting, can also add a touch of color and glamour to the outfit. Women who don't prefer hats look for fascinators, such as beaded accents with feathers or large bows with crystal beading. And finally, these stylish guests wear high heels to round out the outfit. While they may be tempted to wear flats or sandals for dancing, they know a black tie outfit demands a fancier shoe.