Maison Culinaire Blog

What Does Black Tie or White Tie Mean?

Jan 3, 2019 4:58:00 PM / by Maison Culinaire

When you receive an invitation to an event, you may notice at the bottom that it offers suggestions or requirements for a dress code ranging anywhere from casual to White Tie. Since these divisions can be confusing, we’ll explore the differences of what black tie or white tie means.


What Does the Dress Code Mean for Formal Occasions?


White Tie Event



For a White Tie event, the dress is extremely formal.

  • Women: Formal floor-length evening gown and optional long gloves.
  • Men: Black dress coat/tailcoat with matching trousers. Trousers have a single stripe down the side in the U.S. A white wing-collared shirt, white vest and a white bow tie. Accessories include suspenders, shirt studs and cufflinks. Black patent leather shoes and black dress socks. White gloves optional.

Black Tie Event

 For a Black Tie event, the dress is formal.

  • Women: Formal floor-length evening gown or dressy cocktail dress.
  • Men: Black tuxedo with a formal white shirt, black cummerbund or vest, and a black bow tie. Accessories include shirt studs and cufflinks, with dressy suspenders optional. Black patent leather shoes and black dress socks. No gloves.

Creative Black Tie Event

 Black Tie Attire for men (2)

For a Creative Black Tie event, the dress is formal yet fun.

  • Women: Formal floor-length evening gown or dressy cocktail dress with fun accessories.
  • Men: Tuxedo with fun or trendy accompanying items such as a colored shirt or patterned bow tie and cummerbund.

Black Tie Optional Event

Black Tie Attire

For a Black Tie Optional event, the dress is either formal or dressy.

  • Women: Formal floor-length evening gown, dressy cocktail dress or dressy separates.
  • Men: Tuxedo or dark suit with a white shirt and conservative tie. Leather dress shoes and dark dress socks.

Semiformal Event

For a Semiformal event, the dress is still dressy but more casual than a “Black or White Tie” event.

  • Women: Little black dress, short cocktail dress, long dressy skirt or dressy separates.
  • Men: Dark business suit with dress shirt and tie. Leather dress shoes and dark dress socks.

Holiday Event


For the holidays, a more festive attire is appropriate and encouraged.

  • Women: Cocktail dress, “little black dress,” or long dressy skirt. Can feature sparkles and holiday colors.
  • Men: Sport coat or blazer with dress shirt or open-collar shirt. Festive tie in holiday theme.

Business Formal Event


Charity Dinner

For a Business Formal event, business attire is taken to the next level.

  • Women: Suit or business-style dress, jacket, heels and stockings.
  • Men: Dark business suit, dress shirt, conservative tie, and optional matching vest. Leather dress shoes and dark dress socks.


Maison Culinaire: Catering Special Events is Our Business

Formal Wedding

Whether you are hosting a holiday party, formal wedding, or a business event, let Maison Culinaire create the magic. With our International Cuisine options, impeccable service, and commitment to perfection, you are ensured a catered event to remember.

Choose from any culinary region in the world to create your menu. We use only the freshest, and often locally-sourced ingredients to create a superb meal, whether served French Service, catered, buffet-style, reception-style or in box lunches. All meals are created with artistry, passion and dedication to the craft of cooking and presented with creativity and pride.

Maison Culinaire can also assist with planning your special event. Use our team for everything from designing the menu to providing vendors for the stage and dance floor, to helping you source the entertainment. We go above and beyond being just a caterer to ensure that all of our guests have a memorable experience.

No matter what the dress code, you decide what kind of catered event you want and Maison Culinaire will provide it. Use us for weddings, corporate events, special events, and government (GSA) catered events throughout Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.


Contact Maison Culinaire today to schedule your consultation and see sample menus.

Topics: Traditions, White Tie, Black Tie

Maison Culinaire

Written by Maison Culinaire

A luxury catering firm for weddings, special events and corporate events, in Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County, Maryland.