What to Wear to a Black-Tie Wedding

There's nothing better than opening up a fancy wedding invite that reads "dress code: black tie." It’s our one excuse to dress up to the nines, bask in a luxurious ambiance, and fill our Insta feed with plenty of fancy photos. But while a formal dress code is exciting, it can also be confusing. Do I need to wear a gown? Can I get away with a cocktail dress? What colors are appropriate?

While evening gowns and long dresses are standard fares for black-tie weddings, you can get away with a cocktail dress (of the longer variety) if it looks formal. Opt for sophisticated dresses made from luxe fabrics, and steer clear of anything that looks like you're going to a club. Wear your formal dress with sleek heels, elegant jewelry—you can’t go wrong with diamonds and pearls—and a chic clutch. Any color dress will work for a black-tie wedding except for white or ivory, of course. And yes, black and red are fair game! Jewel tones and pastel tones are particularly popular.

We’re not going to lie, black-tie attire can become costly (especially with luxe detailing such as embellished beading, lace, silk, and appliqués), but with a little shopping around, you don’t have to break the bank to find a stylish and appropriate formal ensemble, from sleek metallic sandals to embellished clutches and silky gowns. We’ve done some of the hard work for you and rounded up our favorite black tie attire on the market right now for every budget.

For more wedding guest dress inspiration, see more of our favorites here.