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Design & Style

Style Guide: Understanding Creative Black Tie

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Sep 21, 2020 • 2 min read

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Receiving an invitation to a black tie event can be exhilarating and a little confusing if you’re unsure of what to wear. Creative black tie can be especially complicated, as it can be hard to properly gauge whether or not your outfit is formal enough. Luckily, the fashion world continues to evolve, so the rules are continually changing.



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What Is Creative Black Tie?

Creative black tie is a dress code that allows you to slightly tone down your formal attire by adding hints of your own personal style. When a formal event calls for a creative black tie dress code, it means you don’t have to adhere to the traditional black tie standards in which men are expected to wear a specific tuxedo shirt paired with a black suit, and women are expected to wear evening dresses.

Creative black tie outfits include the use of different textures, prints, patterns, colors, or accessories to create your own fun (and still elegant) look. Colors should not be overly-whimsical or mismatch, but you can explore outside the box with deep burgundy reds, plums, greys, and navy blues.

Creative Black Tie for Women

Women have a multitude of options when it comes to choosing a creative black tie outfit:

  • Sequins and patterns: Instead of a formal dress or evening gown, women can mix it up by wearing a long dress with patterns and sparkly sequins.
  • Cocktail dress: The flexibility of creative black tie also allows for a shorter cocktail dress with a blazer and bold accessories.
  • Dressy separates: For creative black tie, women can wear dressy separates, like tuxedo pants and a white blouse accented with statement jewelry, or a modern pantsuit.
  • Basic black dress: Women can wear a plain black dress and accessorize it with an eye-catching purse. Creative black tie for women should feel red carpet-trendy, with subtle flairs and enhancements to bring a little excitement to their formalwear.
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Creative Black Tie for Men

Men also have a variety of choices when deciding on their creative black-tie attire.

  • Texture and color: Creative black tie encourages men to add pops of texture and color to their formal wear. Men can wear attire anything from velvet suits to paisley cummerbunds.
  • Vests: Vests are a staple in formal attire, and creative black tie provides the best opportunity for men to think outside of the box with their vest choices. Add a textured or colorful vest to a suit or tuxedo to infuse a layer of fun into a creative black tie outfit.
  • Accessories. Silk or satin lapels and bright-colored socks can give a stiff tuxedo a little creativity. Pairing a nice dinner jacket over a sleek black dress shirt with vibrant cufflinks, shirt studs, or pocket squares can also give this classic look a less-traditional feel.

Want to Learn More About Unleashing Your Inner Fashionista?

Get a MasterClass All-Access Pass and let Tan France be your very own style spirit guide. Queer Eye’s fashion guru spills everything he knows about building a capsule collection, finding a signature look, understanding proportions, and more (including why it’s important to wear underwear to bed)—all in a soothing British accent, no less.


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