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Required Reading

Creative Black Tie: Where (Almost) Anything Goes

April 4th, 2017

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).

creative formal attire

creative formal attire

| 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, which makes it a perfect fit for modern groom attire.

Creative black tie is not the time for a classic midnight blue or black tuxedo. It’s not the time for a dark navy or charcoal grey suit, even if it’s double-breasted, or a dark monochromatic look. No. Creative black tie is for richly colored velvet jackets, burgundy suits and elaborate accessorizing.

creative formal attire

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.

creative formal attire

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.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style

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.

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