When you receive a wedding invitation that says “white tie,” you can be sure that it’ll be one elegant, sophisticated, upscale celebration!
Many couples throw casual or beach weddings that call for cocktail attire. Some plan more formal events, asking guests to follow the black tie optional or black tie wedding dress code. And some choose to go as fancy as can be with a white tie dress code that requires guests to dress to the nines on their big day.
Have you received a white tie wedding invitation but aren’t 100% sure what white tie attire is?
From the tux to the dress to the shoes and accessories, this is what you should wear to a wedding when the invite says white tie.
(Spoiler alert: this is going to be an experience you won’t soon forget!)
What Does “White Tie” Mean?
Of all the wedding dress codes that exist, white tie is the most formal dress code, quite a bit dressier than the black tie dress code.
Sometimes referred to as “evening dress,” a white tie wedding is your chance to pull out all the stops and dress your absolute best from head to toe. White tie events are always super upscale (think state dinners at the White House and royal weddings in London!)
Did you receive a white tie wedding invitation?
Then, it’s safe to assume that the venue will be high-end, the food will be ah-ma-zing, and the drinks will be flowing.
Unlike other dress codes, which can vary a bit for an afternoon wedding vs. an evening wedding, there is no deviation with white tie.
The white tie dress code is firm:
Full-length evening gowns and tuxedos with tails.
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For a White Tie Wedding, Wear a Floor-Length Gown
A white tie wedding is not the time to rock your favorite cocktail dress or brand new knee-length number … no matter who designed it or how chic, elegant, or luxe it may be.
The white tie dress code requires that you wear a full-length evening gown, no ifs, ands, or buts. Meeting the expectations of the white tie dress code means choosing the most formal attire possible.
Opt for a floor-length mermaid gown to flaunt your curves elegantly. Keep it classic with a flattering A-line dress with a full skirt. Embrace volume and drama in a dreamy ball gown.
A white tie wedding is your chance to get dressed like you’re going to the Met Gala or the Oscars, so have fun with it!
A Tux With Tails Is a Must!
A standard tuxedo doesn’t rise to the level of white tie attire. Instead, you’ll want to impress in a pair of tuxedo pants with a matching tailcoat jacket for a white tie event.
A brocade or velvet dinner jacket with slim contrasting pants and loafers sans socks is a perfectly acceptable option for formal evening wear at a black tie event. But for a white tie celebration, there’s little room for such an amount of creativity.
Patterns, prints, and textures aren’t options for a white tie wedding. Instead, you’ll need to wear a solid tuxedo jacket with tails.
The tailcoat pairs well with matching trousers with a satin side stripe. The safest and most traditional color choice is black, though you can deviate a smidge by opting for an almost-black shade of midnight blue.
Layer your tailcoat tux with a white vest over a white dress shirt with a pique wing collar and single cuffs. Your white shirt should have a single cuff at each wrist so you can add cufflinks. A shirt with buttons at the cuff just isn’t fancy enough.
As the name suggests, you’ll want to complete your look with a white bow tie. While you might prefer the contrast of a black bow tie, it’s not appropriate in this scenario.
Complete the look with a coordinating pocket square, and you’ll look polished to perfection.
Black tie vs. white tie attire — is there really a difference? Read Black Tie Wedding Attire Dos and Don'ts to discover the answer!
How To Accessorize for a White Tie Wedding
While the white tie dress code allows for little flexibility, you can get creative with your accessories. Here are a few ways to do so:
In recent years, we’ve seen everyone from Lady Gaga to Amal Clooney to Kylie Jenner rock a pair of evening gloves on a red carpet.
Some were successful, while some … not so much.
But the fact is that evening gloves (or opera gloves) are a fantastic way to add some extra drama to a white tie look. And gloves aren’t just for the girls.
Traditional white tie wedding attire calls for guys to wear gloves too. White gloves are traditional, but light grey gloves work as well. Gloves for guys aren’t required, but they sure make a fancy-pants fashion statement.
The Dressy Shoes
Add the perfect finishing touch to a tailcoat tuxedo with a pair of black patent leather dress shoes and black dress socks.
If you’re wearing a full-length gown, complete the look with shimmering metallic pumps or strappy heels adorned with crystals or beading.
Opt for luxe fabrics, small silhouettes, and/or beaded, embellished clutch bags when choosing a handbag. The more elegant the bag, the more luxe your overall look will be.
A vintage pocket watch. A gorgeous pair of diamond studs. A fabulous top hat.
There are all sorts of fun ways to accessorize white tie wedding guest attire!
White tie weddings are the perfect opportunity to pull out all the stops. That means pulling out all of your best accessories and leaving the ones that aren’t as special at home.
For example, if you have a fancy dress watch, wear it! On the other hand, if you don’t have a dressy watch, it’s better not to wear one at all.
How To Style Your Hair for a White Tie Wedding
For a white tie wedding, you’ll want to look polished and neat from head to toe, not just in what you wear but in how you do your hair, nails, and makeup.
A white tie wedding is a fancy enough occasion to wear your hair in an updo, but if you have shorter hair or an updo just isn’t your thing, don’t worry.
From a sleek ponytail to a loose look topped with a diamond tiara, any hairstyle can work as long as it complements your overall look.
Makeup, nails, and facial hair should be on point, too. An upcoming white tie wedding is the perfect excuse to get a facial, get a straight razor shave, or hire a pro for a makeup trial.
For most of us, it’s not every day that a white tie invitation comes our way. So when one does, we should enjoy the opportunity to look our best and celebrate in the most memorable way.
Go ahead and don your best evening dress. Break out your best jewels. Strut your stuff in a tuxedo with tails.
Show up looking the part, and the happy couple will certainly appreciate how you helped bring their decadent wedding day vision to life!