{Ask Lisa} Black Tie… Optional?

Just got the official invitation to my company’s holiday party in my inbox this morning. Attire? Black tie optional. Normally, I like options. (Like, really like options.) But when it comes to what one should wear? I appreciate a nod to the specific. I personally would rather be over-dressed than under-dressed.

So I did a little Googleing to get some “black tie optional” inspiration. Here’s the best thing I’ve found so far:

“Black tie optional” is passive agressive. It means, “If you don’t think we are worth going to the trouble of wearing a tux, we won’t kick you out, but are we really asking too much that you dress up nicely for once?” – via user comment on MetaFilter

As funny as it is, I think it rings pretty true. My other half always complains when dressing up is required for any function I’m dragging him to, even though he looks ridiculously sharp cleaned up.

In case you decide (as I probably will) to ignore the “optional” term, here are a few locally-owned tuxedo/formal wear shops for your black tie needs:

VIP Formal Wear – locations in Raleigh, Garner, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem
Cape Fear Formal Wear – Wilmington, Raleigh, and Fayetteville
Savvi Formal Wear – Raleigh
And according to Google, there is a “Formal Wear Outlet” on Blue Ridge Road… but don’t hold me to that one

Looks like Savvi has a $59 tux, which I’m a bit skeptical of, but I know the manfriend will like the price point. I’ll ask my boss how many men actually opt for the tux before committing though, because I’ll never hear the end of it if I make my date get a tux and he’s one of only five men wearing one when we show up to the event!

So back to the question of what does “black tie optional” really mean? The darker the suit, the better. The more formal it looks, the better you’ll be suited.

I’ll let y’all know how it turns out…

Lisa Jeffries

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  1. Here’s a great resource for Black Tie Optional tips:

    -Coordinate your levels of formality if you’re going as a couple. He should not wear a tuxedo while you are in a cocktail dress.

    -Make sure you match hairstyle, manicure/pedicure and make-up to the formality of the attire. A clean, groomed look is the best fit for such an occasion.

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