Posted on: November 24, 2023 Posted by: Comments: 0

Most of us love a good party, but receiving an invite for a black-tie event can be as daunting as it is exciting. Obviously, the idea of dressing up and buying some new additions for your wardrobe is welcome. But no one wants to be the person who over- or underdressed. We all know black-tie means formal, but it also leaves plenty of room for interpretation, especially if you’ve never done black-tie before. 

If you’re lucky enough to receive a black-tie invite, we’re here to clear up once and for all what the dos and don’ts really are—so we called upon Browns senior fashion buyer and all-round style expert Octavia Bradford. She thumbs through the most amazing high-end formalwear every day as a part of her job, so she knows better than anyone how to put together a black-tie look. Scroll below for her five tips on nailing a black-tie dress code.

Style Notes: The term “black-tie” originates from the literal description of a male dress code of a dinner jacket and a black tie. So technically, there are no specifics for what women should wear, and rightly so. In order to scope out the vibe, Bradford suggests you “assess the location, and think about the host and wider guest list. How are your fellow partygoers going to interpret the dress code? Are they a handbags-at-dawn kind of crew? This kind of intel is going to help you when you come to think about your interpretation of the black-tie directive. If your host is making a big effort, you need to make one too.”

Use luxurious fabrics and finishes like velvet, feathers and satin to your advantage when creating an unforgettable black-tie look. 

Style Notes: Investing in a whole new outfit obviously isn’t necessary. But if you’ve got a tried-and-tested look that you want to reinvent with one purchase, then Bradford says it’s all about statement heels. “My advice to anyone looking to elevate their outfit in one swift move is to treat yourself to a pair of devastatingly beautiful shoes that excite you and base your outfit around them. The boldest statements are often made in the details.”

So fun, and the mid-heel height means extra comfort for all-night wear. 

Style Notes: “The idea that black-tie means a dress is a common notion among partygoers, but this is an oversight,” says Bradford. “Jumpsuits and separates can work just as well as tried-and-tested ball gowns with the added bonus that you’ll likely get tonnes of wear out of these pieces well beyond the black-tie event circuit.” Bradford’s ideal black-tie outfit? “I love the idea of wearing a pair of high-waisted wide-leg trousers with a fabulous velvet kimono jacket. It’s a look that is slightly unexpected and a little undone but also rooted in sophistication and elegance.”

Elegance in jumpsuit form. 

Style Notes: Just as black-tie doesn’t have to equal a dress, it does not dictate wearing black. “Colour and print work too. Don’t be afraid to go bold,” says Bradford. Though, if you’re not sure about pulling off a bold shade, then Bradford suggests, “Let your bright dress have its moment in the spotlight—the accessories are there to support and elevate it, so it’s wise to think along simpler lines.”

Galvan gowns are having a moment right now. 

Style Notes: You’ve got to make an arrival, so don’t forget about your coat or jacket. Don’t see it as a winter warmer—embrace it as part of your outfit. “Evening cover-ups are one of the most underrated pieces in a woman’s wardrobe, but like a superhero’s cape, they can have transformational powers,” says Bradford. “Don’t be afraid to consider an outerwear option that makes a statement. There’s no need to visit the cloakroom when you’re wearing a coat from Gucci.”

There are plenty of black-tie options on the high street, but this designer number really caught our eye. 

Style Notes: If there were ever a time to go all out, a black-tie event is it, so make sure you have fun with your accessories. This is a time to let your fashion fantasies run wild. Go big with your jewellery, whether you’re dripping in diamonds or layering up on costume jewellery. Add elegance and drama with opera gloves—take note from Anna and layer your jewellery on top for extra impact. However you style it, make sure you’re having fun. 

These sheer long gloves will immediately take your look to the next level. 

This can be worn for all kinds of occasions. 

Go big from head to toe. 

Add a personal touch with a cocktail rinecklace. 

Bold and brilliant. 

This is your time to go all out with your jewellery. 

Add some glitz and glamour in your arm candy. 

Reformation’s dresses are so beautiful. 

If you’re leaving your tiara in your jewellery box, a embellished headband will work just as well. 

If you’re not a fan of heels, these flats are a safe bet. 

This looks at least three times it’s price tag.

All the sparkle of diamonds, at a fraction of the price. 

Pure party perfection. 

Outerwear you won’t want to take off. 

Up Next, The High-Street Is Full of Pretty Party Dresses—These 30 Are Must Sees

This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

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