Guidelines and an approach to wearing creative formal attire
In the realm of formal dress codes, there are those that should be adhered to rather strictly as well as some that offer you quite a bit of leeway and personal freedom for expression. Classic black tie is an example of the former, while “black tie optional” would be an example of the latter.
If you’ve studied up on black tie optional, you might very well assume that there isn’t a formal dress code that gives you any more latitude. After all, it does appear to suggest more or less a free-for-all when it comes to selecting proper attire.
But that opinion neglects a formal dress code that can – if that’s your prerogative – the volume up to 11. I’m talking, of course about creative black tie (a.k.a. black tie creative).
| WEARING | Alan David Custom suit, Edward Sexton shirt, Drake’s tie, Rolex watch, Cole Haan shoes | PHOTOGRAPHY | by Rob McIver Photo
So what makes creative black tie different from black tie optional? Whereas BTO merely suggests being your most rakish self by going out of bounds with color, pattern, texture (or a combination of all three) and accessories, creative black tie almost requires it.
You’ll notice that the laundry list of styles just listed runs the gamut from, “I’m comfortable with that,” to “Whoa, wait a second, that’s a touch too flamboyant for me!” And that’s the beauty of this particular dress code.
While, I’ll argue that it does require you to reach into your soul and harness your most rakish impulses, the good news is that that doesn’t have to equal being exceptionally outside of your comfort zone. In other words, you don’t need to wear something like this. A burgundy suit will do just fine.
Like any number of alternatives to black tie optional, you should also stick to the ethos of the black tie dress code. But just because the name of the dress code contains ‘black tie’, that does not mean you need to wear a bow tie.
In the end, creative black tie attire is what you make of it. You can get as “out there” as you like or keep it mostly within the box. But always do something that will grab a bit of attention.