What is Black Tie Optional For Women

Last Updated on May 6, 2023 by Ellen Christian

What is black tie optional for women? Learn more about the black tie optional dress code for women and what you should wear.

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Just What is Black Tie Optional For Women?


Black Tie Optional For Women

Summer is the time for weddings and dances.  We have already received two invitations for this season.  One is for a wedding of a friend of my son’s and one is a party.  

I don’t know about you, but I am always uncertain about what to wear. Formal, semi-formal, black tie, black tie optional. What do all these terms mean?  It’s not only a question for men.  

Black tie optional was created to allow men to wear either a single or double-breasted dinner jacket with a black silk bow tie or, less formally, a tuxedo or a dark-colored suit, white shirt, and evening tie. What exactly does that mean for women?

Check out a few of my favorite black tie affair dresses. These black tie optional women’s dresses would look stunning at various types of affairs.

a woman wearing a gold cocktail dress

What does black tie optional mean for females?

Black tie optional for women means that the woman would be able to wear a long, floor-length evening dress or could instead choose an evening suit or short cocktail dress like above.

Note that the hemline should not be too short or too revealing. Black tie optional for women doesn’t mean clubbing attire.

Black tie optional gives the guest the ability to choose formal or slightly informal attire.

Can you wear black tie optional before 6pm?

Yes, you can. But you may want to choose an evening suit or cocktail dress rather than a floor length gown. Check with the host and hostess to see what they prefer.

This is also true for a black tie optional outdoor wedding. 

a woman wearing a blue cocktail dress

Can a woman wear pants to a black tie event?

The benefit of black-tie optional for parties is that it gives you the option to wear a formal cocktail dress like the one above instead of a full-length gown.

Many women would prefer to wear a cocktail dress because the dress can be re-used for other occasions. It may be more difficult to wear a full-length gown to more than one party or event.

A pantsuit isn’t usually considered appropriate for a black-tie optional event. Black tie outfits for ladies generally means a dress or skirt.

Another option would be a formal silk blouse with a full-length black velvet skirt. These separates could be worn again with different accessories to create several different multi-purpose outfits.

a woman wearing a tan ruffled cocktail dress

Remember Accessories

If you’re wondering how to cover up in cooler weather, please leave the ski jacket or sweater at home. Instead, opt for a cashmere wrap or a faux fur jacket. A classic string of pearls is always a great option for formal wear.

Remember that whatever black tie optional dress you choose needs to fit into a room full of men in formal tuxedos. Keep that in mind when shopping.

Check out the pictures of black tie optional dresses in this article.

14 thoughts on “What is Black Tie Optional For Women”

  1. That bracelet is cool and something I would really like. I love how Shopcade seems to offer dressy and not-so-dressy items; a little something for everyone. 🙂

  2. I always wondered what black tie optional meant. I learned something today! All of those dresses are great picks. I like the top right one the best

  3. Wow, how sad that I didn’t have a clue that Black Tie optional ment. Other than High school prom I’ve never had an opportunity to really dress up like this. I wish we had more events that were classy in our lifestyle.

  4. I love the choices that you presented. I would be completely over my head in selecting something black-tie appropriate. Thanks for the easy guide!

  5. My favorite is the dress on the bottom right. The one to its left inspires me to work on my shoulders……I’d never be able to wear that!

  6. This was an interesting post. It really helps to define the Black tie optional thing. You know what another great post would be? Examples of each kind of invitation style. Black Tie, Black Tie Optional, casual, etc.


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