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JonnyCeltics's avatar

Should I rent/wear a tux to this "black tie" wedding?

Asked by JonnyCeltics (2664 points ) April 5th, 2011

Got invited to a wedding in Chicago. Am flying in for it. In light of the wedding, I got my suit tailored, and then the invitations said “black tie.” I really, really, really do not feel like spending $150–200 on a tux (I live in NYC). I called my Aunt who said, if you don’t wear a tux, just snazz up your suit – as in wear nice shoes, perhaps a handkerchief, tie that is solid….

would I be an idiot? stick out like a sore thumb? feel embarrassed (I think I do already….)? Am I cheap?

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34 Answers

YoBob's avatar

Dude, black tie is one step in formality above “wear your tux”. I know it sucks, but you need to wear a tux to this one.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Sorry, but black tie means tux.

john65pennington's avatar

YoBob is correct. If it states black tie event, then find a tux for yourself.

Please do not wear flip flops with it. A friend of mine did this and he was made a clown of at the wedding.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Hit it @YoBob , “black tie”, then “tails”.

Try this site for a definition.

Can you go to a NYC formal shop that has a branch in Chicago for fitting?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@YoBob What’s the difference between black tie and ‘wear your tux’? Aren’t they both ways of referring to semi-formal?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I would wear a tux,but the world will not come to an end if you choose to wear a suit.
:)

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs Look at the link I referenced. There are different tuxes and semi-formal is not “black tie”.

@JonnyCeltics What time of year is this wedding? If it is after Memorial day White may be the color of the jacket.

Cruiser's avatar

Chicago is pretty prim and proper. No tux and you will stick out like a sore thumb. Call your hotel for the nearest tux rental and I am sure you can get fitted by the same outlet where you live.

Taciturnu's avatar

@JonnyCeltics I think you need to figure out if you “don’t feel like” spending money on a tux or if you can’t. If you can’t, just tell the bride/groom that you don’t have the funds for it, particularly with your travel. I’m sure they will understand. If you have the money, suck it up and remember not to make those requirements on your wedding day if you don’t like the stipulations/be glad you didn’t require black tie/it’s payback for your black tie. :)

YoBob's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs The definition has drifted a bit over time, but traditionally “black tie” means not only are you to wear a tux, the type of tux you wear is to be of the style considered to be the most formal of current fashion. At one time that meant tails and top hat. However, today a very formal tux is called for.

Traditionally a formal event meant tux, but there was a bit more leeway in the style you choose (in other words, tails and top hat optional). However, now formal has come to mean wear a suit and tie.

Traditionally, simi-formal meant suit and tie. In a practical sense it still does. However, you can get away with a sport coat without being perceived as a total clod.

Sorry guys, in none of the above definitions are flip flops, tennis shoes, T-shirts, or jeans acceptable. However, fortunately for us rednecks we can get away with nice boots at simi-formal and, if the cut of the suit is right, formal events.

My mamma didn’t force me to learn them county club rules for nothin’!

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@YoBob Well, now I want to bring back tails and top-hats!

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@YoBob You went to Cotillions at the Country Club?

YoBob's avatar

I’d go with the guidelines provided in the link from @Tropical_Willie

And yes, @Tropical_Willie, I did the whole Cotillian thing. As the son of two professionals I was expected to rub shoulders with the local Country Club crowd and know enough about the social graces to handle myself accordingly.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

“Black Tie” means a tux. If you don’t want to go in a tux, then send your regrets and don’t go at all.

marinelife's avatar

Rent a tux if you can.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Tux.
Here’s a secret….pssst…...Women love ‘em. A good tux will increase your chances of getting ‘evening action’ by a factor of 10. (It’s like wearing big boy underwear for men.) Believe me, once you have one, you’ll wear it more often than you think. ;-)
If you get one, let us know how you make out. I give even odds you come home with a contact number.

breedmitch's avatar

You’re all wrong.
Black tie means just that.
A black suit with a white shirt and a black tie (bow or straight) is perfectly acceptable.
The Oscars is a black tie event. Think of the variety of suits worn by the men to the Oscars.
Of course you certainly may wear a tuxedo if you own one, but renting clothing for an event is 1) tacky 2) rude of the host to require.
Wear your best black suit. Splurge on a really elegant white shirt with French cuffs and a beautiful black tie. You will look so much better than the schmos wearing rented polyester looking like they’re going to prom.
Your aunt is correct.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@breedmitch I googled “black tie event” before I answered just to make sure I was giving correct advice. Even better, google “etiquette black tie event.” It says to get out the penguin suit!

breedmitch's avatar

Yes, well. That is incorrect.

breedmitch's avatar

Sure she can.

YoBob's avatar

@breedmitch, Hate to break this to you, but the behavior of actors at the Oscars is not a valid template for matters of etiquette.

I’m a whole lot more inclined to follow the advice of Emily Post than a bunch of coked up hollywierd celebs out for a “See who can generate the most controversy as a result of a wardrobe malfunction” event.

breedmitch's avatar

The well dressed celebrities I’m thinking of are neither coked up or weird, but how very Texas Provincial of you to paint them all with the same brush.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@YoBob Does that mean a midnight black athletic supporter would not be considered formal at a Hoollywierd event.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@breedmitch Black tie is a slang term meaning a certain formality of dress code. It does not simply reference a black tie. If the OP has any doubts about it’s meaning, he could call up the bride and ask if she simply meant he needed to wear a black tie – I’m sure she’d rather set him straight than have a dress code faux pas at her wedding.

YoBob's avatar

@Tropical_Willie Probably not at the event itself, but perhaps at the after party…

breedmitch's avatar

I fully understand the question as well as the history of the term black tie.
A bride and groom choose a black tie option when 1) the event takes place after 6pm and 2) they wish to create a feeling of formality. Which means no light colored suits for men and no casual attire (blue and brown are casual colours). Decorum dictates that no flashy accents be worn (ie pink tie with a tuxedo).
Of course, a conservative tuxedo is the best choice, but if you don’t own one or aren’t prepared to buy one, a black suit with a nice white shirt and a black tie of either style is preferable to renting clothing.
Renting clothing is just slightly less tacky than asking a guest to do so. Ask the bride. I’m betting she will agree with me.

YoBob's avatar

@breedmitch – That was well stated. It truly is up to the bride how much leeway she will find acceptable in the requested dress. She has the final say regarding whether a regular dark suit will be acceptable. Further, I agree that your own clothing is always preferable. However, not all rental tuxes are polyester monstrosities. You can find some rather nice ones depending on where you look.

That aside, at the end of the day the tolerance of the bride and shifting social norms do not change the actual meaning of “black tie” dress as defined by multiple etiquitte pundits.

Now, isn’t civilized discourse much more gratifying than resorting to name calling?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@YoBob Well stated. @breedmitch As always the bride is the person to get clarification for the wedding.

SpatzieLover's avatar

We have plenty of black tie balls here. No, you do not need a tux. You need to wear your best black suit. If you can get a nice tie, hanky & cuff links.

BarnacleBill's avatar

You might be able to get a deal on a tux at a consignment store in NYC, and have it altered.

If your suit is black and fits you well, you could get away with a really great dress vest, white shirt with french cuffs, a solid black tie, and really nicely shined dress shoes. Either way, you will probably end up spending money.

Some brides put “black tie” to mean they want you in a dark suit, and not in a sports coat, or a blazer and khakis, which passes for “semi-formal” for a lot of men.

sillylees's avatar

You need to rent a tux, I for one would

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I remember my Senior Prom(1966) there were a lot of Madras Plaid tux jackets.

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