Skip to Main Content
black tie no tux
black tie no tux

Black Tie, No Tux? No Problem!

April 7th, 2017

6 black tie outfit ideas if you don’t have a tuxedo in your wardrobe

Let’s be honest. Not all men own a tux. Even guys who regularly put time and effort into their appearance – in other words, those guys you think would have a tuxedo – don’t own one. And I bet you don’t have one either.

Why? Well, it’s pretty simple.Unless you’re of a certain set or run with a particular circle of associates, the times you are asked to don proper black tie attire, are likely few and far between. Which means a tuxedo, as classy as it is, is probably pretty low on the to-do list when it comes to filling out a wardrobe.

Like, if you’ve squirreled away some money in your piggy bank for a new made to measure suit, sport coat, trousers or shoes, it can be a hard sell to fork it over for something you may wear just a handful of times (if that) per year. You know what I mean?

So what’s a guy to do when black tie is requested and he doesn’t have a tux in his closet? Rent one? Absolutely not. There are plenty of options and ways to get by at black tie with no tux. Here are six of them.

1. Blue Suit, Black Tie

black tie no tux

| WEARING | QG Custom suit, Reiss shirt, Barney’s New York bow tie

Even if you don’t own a tuxedo, there’s a high probability that you do have a blue suit. (If you don’t, what are you waiting for?!) And in a pinch, that blue suit is a good stand-in for a tuxedo. On the color spectrum, make sure it’s somewhere between a dark navy and royal blue color. Anything lighter will end up looking very out of place.

2. Dark Grey Suit

black tie no tux

| WEARING | Alan David Custom suit, Uniqlo turtleneck, Cartier watch

If you don’t have a navy suit, hopefully you have a grey one. (Again, if you don’t, what are you waiting for?!) In a double-breasted form, it can exude just as much class as your traditional tuxedo. A turtleneck in place of a shirt and tie adds an extra layer of sophistication.

3. Dark Navy Suit

black tie no tux

| WEARING | Ermengildo Zegna suit, Ted Baker shirt, Drake’s tie

If you want to do a blue suit with a little personality and panache, disregard the standard white shirt and bow tie and substitute a black shirt and black tie. In this scenario, tie selection is extremely important. Choose one with a subtle texture to avoid looking like De Niro in Casino.

4. Burgundy Dinner Jacket

black tie no tux

| WEARING | Dunhill jacket, Polo Ralph Lauren pants, Ermengildo Zegna shirt, Barney’s New York bow tie

Sometimes, you pass on spending money on a tux to acquire a more distinctive piece of formalwear. I know the feeling. That’s how you end up with a burgundy dinner jacket. And this is the perfect moment for that. Especially if the dress code is “black tie optional“.

5. Velvet Jacket, Red Bow Tie

black tie no tux

| WEARING | Banana Republic jacket, Reiss shirt and scarf, Brooks Brothers Black Fleece bow tie

Velvet is a great option for any type of alternative black tie event and can also work for the real thing if need be. Velvet jackets come in all sorts of colors, though black and deep navy would be your go-to for a more conservative affair. The best part about velvet? It’s a real head turner and conversation starter. Be prepared.

6. Burgundy Suit

black tie no tux

| WEARING | Alan David Custom suit, Edward Sexton shirt, Drake’s tie

If it’s your prerogative to make a statement, reach for a burgundy suit. Remember that if you are wearing it to an event that is designated as “black tie”, you should keep the rest of the look simple and subdued. The suit will stand out enough.

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style

Photography by Rob McIver Photo

Brian Sacawa

Brian Sacawa is the Founder of He Spoke Style and one of the original men’s style influencers. Since 2013, his goal has remained the same: to provide men the advice and inspiration they need to dress well, develop their personal style, and gain more confidence. Brian’s interest and passion for men’s style and luxury watches has led to his writing for The Robb Report, The Rake, and Sotheby’s and he has been quoted on menswear in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,, Brides Magazine, and the Huffington Post. He lives in the woods north of Baltimore with his wife, Robin, kitties Nick and Nora, and German Shepherd/Collie mix Charlie.

All Posts

He Spoke Style

We are the leading online destination for premium original men’s style content.

Our Story