What To Wear To A Black Tie Optional Affair

Black Tie Optional (2 of 13)

One of our favorite parts about living in Dallas is the glamorous social scene. There’s always a fabulous event to attend, which also means the perfect excuse to get dolled up for a festive night out. This weekend we’re attend the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala and After Party at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. It’s one of the best events of the year in Dallas, so we’re very excited to attend – especially since this year’s performance is by Yo-Yo Ma! Following the concert, we’ll have an evening of dancing at the after party. (Hint: We’re giving away two tickets to the event this year on Instagram, so be sure to enter to win. We’d love to celebrate with you!)

Generally, dressing for events is simple – either black tie or cocktail. Every so often though, we’ll find a dress code that’s a bit more confusing – such as beach formal, picnic casual, or the trickiest of all, SMU Rush’s “Snappy Casual” (which to this day, I still can’t interpret). However, one dress code that always raises a question: Black Tie Optional. While it’s pretty clear this means you can either wear a cocktail dress or a formal gown, how do you know which one is most appropriate? Today we’re sharing tips on how to find the perfect dress for the occasion!

Evening gowns AND cocktail dresses are both appropriate

When it comes to black tie optional, I always choose an evening gown. I honestly feel it’s best to be overdressed than underdressed – plus I love an excuse to dive into our “formal gown closet”. However, if cocktail dresses are more your style, you can definitely choose to wear this! Unlike a traditional cocktail party dress, you want to make sure your Black Tie Optional cocktail dress is a bit more formal.

If you choose to wear a cocktail dress:

  1. Choose a dress with a longer hemline – If half the party is in a floor-length gown, you want to make sure you’re not showing TOO much leg. A black tie optional event is generally more conservative than a traditional cocktail party, so we recommend choosing a modest dress. Not sure what to wear? A black midi-dress is always a great choice!
  2. Choose a more formal dress – While I have plenty of dresses than can transition from day to night for a cocktail affair, you want to make sure your dress is on the formal side for Black Tie Optional. Lace, silk, or embellished dresses are always great a choice.
  3. Choose a dress that will mesh well in a photo if you’re between an evening gown and a tuxedo – Ok I know most people don’t consider Instagram when getting dressed, but most weddings or galas have event photographers. If you’re standing in a group of people all in black tie, make sure you choose a dress that blends in.

Is your date torn on what to wear? We suggest either a tuxedo or a dark suit and dark tie.

I absolutely adore this Elie Tahari Dress and it’s the perfect cocktail dress for Black Tie Optional! Click here to shop my dress, and check out some of our other favorite picks for the perfect Black Tie Optional Dress:

Evening Gowns

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Cocktail Dresses

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Shop my outfit:

Elie Tahari Dress c/o // Elie Tahari Clutch c/o

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