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Does a blue suit count as black tie?

Does a blue suit count as black tie?

The question of whether a blue suit counts as black tie attire is one that comes up frequently for men getting ready for formal events. Black tie dress code calls for a tuxedo, which consists of a black jacket, trousers, bow tie, and other accessories. However, many men prefer to wear a simple blue suit instead. While a blue suit does not fully meet the traditional definition of black tie, it can work as acceptable black tie attire in many situations if done properly. This article will examine the black tie dress code, whether a blue suit counts, and tips for wearing a blue suit to black tie events.

What is Black Tie Attire?

Black tie is a semi-formal dress code that originated in the late 19th century for evening events and dinner parties among the upper class. Over time it became widely adopted as the standard formal attire for special occasions. True black tie dress has strict rules and consists of the following:

– Black tuxedo jacket with silk or satin lapels
– Black tuxedo trousers with a satin stripe down the leg
– White dress shirt with French cuffs
– Black bow tie
– Black cummerbund or waistcoat
– Black dress shoes and socks

Optional accessories include a white pocket square and black studs and cufflinks. The goal of black tie is to achieve a polished, elegant look with minimal embellishment. The color palette centers around black and white.

This distinguishes black tie from white tie, which is the most formal dress code and includes tails instead of a tuxedo jacket. Black tie is also less formal than morning dress, which features a cutaway morning coat and striped trousers.

Does a Blue Suit Count as Black Tie?

Traditionalists argue that nothing other than a true tuxedo counts as black tie. However, over time conventions have relaxed, and dark blue suits are now commonly worn to black tie events. A high quality navy or midnight blue suit can approach the level of formality of a tuxedo.

There are a few advantages to opting for a dark blue suit over a tuxedo for black tie:

– A blue suit is more versatile and can be worn again more easily to other occasions.
– Blue suits are often cheaper and more readily available than tuxedo rentals.
– The dark color palette fits with the spirit of black tie.
– A tailored blue suit can look just as stylish as a tuxedo to many eyes.

However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind:

– Stick to dark navy or midnight blues. Lighter shades will look out of place.
– The suit should be high quality, well-fitted, and conservative in its styling.
– Match it with a white dress shirt, black bow tie, black shoes, and other formal accessories.
– Only wear it to black tie events where suits are already commonly accepted.

Follow those guidelines, and a blue suit can come close to meeting black tie standards in all but the strictest settings.

When Can You Wear a Blue Suit to Black Tie Events?

Here are the types of black tie events where wearing a dark blue suit is usually acceptable:

– Cocktail parties – Cocktail attire is already a notch below black tie. At more casual cocktail parties, few will bat an eye at a blue suit.

– Funerals – Funerals call for dark, conservative attire. A dark blue suit respects the solemn occasion.

– At-home dinners – Smaller dinner parties at someone’s home tend to be more relaxed about black tie policy. A suit is still formal.

– Business or political events – Blue suits are common at receptions, dinners, and events related to business or politics.

– When women wear cocktail dresses – If female guests are in shorter cocktail dresses, suits are fine.

– Daytime weddings – Daytime weddings tend to be less formal. A suit remains dressy for the occasion.

– As a guest – The guidelines are looser for guests. Focus should be on the couple or hosts.

– Creative black tie – Some invitations say creative or festive black tie, encouraging personal twists.

In contrast, avoid suits at high society galas, balls, very formal weddings, charity benefits, and strictly enforced black tie events. Read the invitation wording and dress code carefully.

How to Wear a Blue Suit to a Black Tie Event

If wearing a blue suit to black tie, follow these tips to get the details right:

– Suit color – Stick to dark navy or midnight blue. No lighter shades.

– Suit style – Choose a conservative two- or three-button classic cut. Avoid trendy styles.

– Fabric – Wool or a wool-blend is best. Avoid casual fabrics like linen or cotton.

– Suit quality – Get it well-tailored and fitted. Budget for alterations as needed.

– Dress shirt – White only, with French cuffs if possible. Avoid button-down collars.

– Tie – A black satin bow tie. Long ties are too informal.

– Accessories – Black dress shoes and belt, dark socks, white pocket square.

– Jewelry – Black studs and cufflinks. Avoid necklaces and bracelets.

– Grooming – Neatly trimmed hair and clean shave. Pay attention to details.

Those guidelines maximize the formality of a blue suit. In terms of fit, aim for tailored and sleek versus loose and slouchy. No matter your budget, make sure the ensemble looks intentional and put together.


A dark blue suit falls in a grey area for black tie attire – not as formal as a tuxedo but more formal than odd jacket and slacks. It can work well for the right black tie events if you mind the details. Focus on a conservative cut, dark color, formal accessories, and crisp grooming. Most importantly, know the formality of the specific event. When in doubt, opt for a traditional tuxedo to meet dress code standards. With the right considerations, a blue suit can pull off black tie with style and class.

Type of Event Blue Suit Acceptability
Cocktail parties Acceptable
Funerals Acceptable
At-home dinners Acceptable
Business/political events Acceptable
Women in cocktail dresses Acceptable
Daytime weddings Acceptable
As a guest Acceptable
Creative black tie Acceptable
Formal galas/balls Not Acceptable
Formal weddings Not Acceptable
Charity benefits Not Acceptable
Strict black tie Not Acceptable