Friday Style File: Black Tie Optional

dress // clutch // cuff // earrings // shoes // lipstick
I recently got an email from a reader asking about attire for a 6pm wedding.  (Hi, C!!)  In my book, 6 pm means the attire is "black tie optional," while a 7 pm wedding unequivocally means black tie.  Many 6:30 pm weddings are considered black tie as well, but this is still a gray area and you will likely see a wide variety in the attire of the guests.  The only variation on this theme is if the wedding invitation specifies attire.  4 pm wedding but the invite says black tie?  Bust out the long gown and tux! 

Personally, I think dressing for a "black tie optional" event is the most challenging.  Short dress or long?  Glitzy or simple?  The options are endless.  The silver lining is that you can't really go wrong as long as you stick to more formal fabrics and accessories.  (This is not the time to wear a beautiful cotton sun dress.)  

For one of our upcoming "black tie optional" weddings, I'm planning to wear some variation on this collage.  A long silk maxi leans more "black tie," but the simplicity keeps it from feeling overly formal.  Paired with simple jewelry - a stand out cuff and pretty earrings - the look is elegant while remaining chic.   Add a gorgeous clutch (this one is a little on the pricey side for me, but you get the idea), a simple shoe, and a swipe of bold lip color to complete the look.  

I think the key to "black tie optional" is really to focus on understated elegance.  Look for silk fabrics on short or long dresses, refined accessories, and a bold lipstick or nail polish.  Most of all - have fun with whatever you choose!


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