Wedmother Survival Guide – the Black Tie Wedding

There is it, embossed and leaping out from the invitation like a big silver bullet to the purse…’Dress Code: Black Tie’.

Men LOVE this. A tux, a white shirt, dickie bow and black shoes. Done.  Us girls, however, feel the fear clutching at our hearts, our tummies and our purse strings when we see those words on a wedding invitation.

“Does it have to be a long dress or can it be cocktail? It’s not even near Christmas, how am I supposed to find a full length and fabulous dress?  And more to the point, how am I supposed to find one that someone else is not going to be wearing?”


Fear not, Black Tie Wedding Guest – we’ve got you covered.  Follow our survival guide and you’ll be turning up in the best frock without fear of duplication or an empty bank account.

♥          ♥          ♥          ♥          ♥          ♥

Charity shops are your best friend
BUT to get the best pickings you’re going to have to go to a store that’s likely to have high end donations.  Somewhere close to a fashion hub where people change their outfits regularly.   The likelihood is that you will get a ‘last season’ frock and therefore less chance of duplication, and the price tag will make your heart sing.JC Oxfam dress

Check out this JC frock from OXFAM – brand new with tags. Gotta be worth a visit!

Gok your Frock
Oh yes, that’s right. Get to Boyes or similar, hunt out some embellishments (lace, sequins, flowers, diamante) whip out your glue gun and turn (one of) your LBDs into something SPARKtacular!  You can do it.  Adding a sparkly strap to a strapless dress, running some sequins under the empire line or flowers to the waist (or be really creative and add a ruffle hem or fun decoration to the rear) and you’ve got yourself a one-off creation that didn’t cost the earth.

Not creative or any good with a sewing machine?
Pay someone!  There are plenty of dress makers out there who do have the creativity and talent to turn your old bridesmaid frock or your plain black dress into a stunning evening gown for a fraction of the cost of a new dress. BONUS – they’ll make it fit perfectly too!

Accessories are your best friend
A (fake) fur wrap, sequinned cardie, feathery stole….all of these will upscale any outfit to make it look chic.  Pop on a pair of stunning shoes and you could be wearing a sack – no-one will pay attention if you’ve got gorgeous foot wear on.Lovely feather stole or wrap from Debenhams, in white

Jenny Packham Feather Stole from Debenhams – will lift any outfit to the next level

Unsure if cocktail is the way? 
We say YES but check with your bride.  And if you’re going the cocktail route it better be spectacular and not look like you’re off to club or a NYE party.  On the knee rather than above, and less is more when it comes to cleavage. To combat, ask a dress maker to add some straps or  cap sleeves to a sweetheart neckline or pop on a bolero.

Your friends are likely to have an abundance of frocks in their closets.  Ask around and see if a loan is possible.  Make a night of it – get your girls around with their offerings, pop open some fizzy and do a catwalk in your living room!  Remember to be a good friend in return – get the outfit cleaned after the event and repair any bits that might need it.

Rent a Frock (or borrowing with a cost!)
Girl Meets Dress, Rent the Runway, or FrontRow – all great ways of hiring designer outfits without the huge price tag.  If you’re a ‘wear it once’ kinda gal, this is your way forward for the formal nuptials you’re headed to.Stella Mccartney on Front Row

Stella McCartney on Front Row £220 for 5 days – awesome!

Dye it!
Got something you love but the colour just isn’t doing it for you anymore?  Then dying is the way forward.  BUT remember the following:  unless you’re well practised DON’T do it yourself, find a trusted professional.  Beads and embellishments wont colour so choose your dress carefully.  Stains won’t colour so make sure it’s sparkly clean before you start.  Silk is good – polyester or lace not so much.  Research if this is the path you’re going to choose.

Jump Suits
Oh yes, you can!  A gorgeous formal jump suit will indeed suffice with a Black Tie invitation.  Wear with heels and look for styles that suit your shape.  Tapered to your ankle or grazing the floor as a full length frock would are both great looks.  And the likelihood of pockets is high –!

We love these two offerings from Simply Be – gorgeous

Oh and while you should certainly consider it – don’t freak out about the colour.  Obvs avoid the whites of any kind but black is perfectly acceptable for a black tie affair.  Perhaps try to avoid whatever colour the bridesmaids are in so you don’t look like a ‘wannabe’, and although some people may frown, a lovely bright red or sharp yellow will be great. As long as you’re not going to outshine the bride!

Guidance:  Sometimes it might say ‘black tie optional’.  This is not you – this is him!  It means instead of a tux he can wear a dark suit with a dark tie. It still means you need a posh frock.

If you’re lucky enough to see ‘white tie’ on that invitation it means cocktail or jump suit are gonners and you MUST be full length and fabulous while your other half is in a (yep you guessed it) white tie and coat tails.

‘Creative Black Tie’ is finding it’s way on to invitations too. This is really just the go-ahead to be a little crazy with your accessories, put flowers in your hair or velcro your cat’s paws around your neck (just kidding on that last one, mog really won’t like it…) – you get the idea.

We LOVE a black tie invitation, it means getting properly dressed up!  Oh and the hair, the shoes, the accessories. Yep, black tie all the way! ♥


Massive thanks to Art in the Find for the header. Pop over and see how they can help you find the perfect black tie outfit!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s