What Does That Invitation Mean?
White Tie or Full Dress - This is the most formal outfit - and it is quite specific. White tie means you should be wearing a black tailcoat, matching black trouser, white pique formal shirt, white pique vest, and a white pique bow-tie. No you can't substitute a regular tuxedo for the tails - you'll get arrested by the fashion police.
Black Tie - Most formal affairs fall into this category. Black tie means you need to wear a tuxedo. Single breasted or double breasted, peak, notch, or shawl collar will do. It's your choice. Your tuxedo will need a formal shirt (no you can't just wear a white dress shirt - everyone will know you're trying to cut corners), bow-tie and cummerbund set or vest and tie set, cuff links and studs. A traditionalist will wear a black bow-tie and cummerbund set, and black, round cuff links and stud set. If you would like to be less formal then wear a vest and tie set instead of the cummerbund.
Black Tie preferred – This is the host’s way of telling you that you’ll be out of place unless you are wearing a tuxedo. Any tuxedo is OK, no tailcoats. You are allowed to wear a dark, dressy suit (we would suggest a navy or black tone-on-tone stripe) without having security throw you out in a humiliating scene, however, you will feel lonely without your tuxedo.
Black tie optional – This means the host and those with the “in-crowd” will be wearing a tuxedo. Of course, this also means those with the “out-crowd” will be wearing a suit. Wouldn’t you rather be with the “in-crowd”? Tails are too fancy. Stick with either a tuxedo or a dark, dressy suit.
Black tie invited – This means the hostess really, really wants you to wear a tuxedo but isn’t going to press the issue. Rest assured, the host will be dressed to the nines in his tux. Expect about half of the men to be wearing a tuxedo, half wearing a suit.
Semi-formal – This means you are supposed to wear either a tuxedo or a dinner jacket. The rules are a less stringent, go ahead and wear that wild-and-crazy vest and ties set. Try something a little less conservative. Just remember, the fashion police are out there – watching . . .
Creative Black Tie - There is no definition for this, that is, most anything goes as long as you are wearing a tuxedo jacket. One shudders to think some may voluntarily choose to wear a tuxedo jacket and bluejean cut-offs. We believe creative black tie provides you with the opportunity to wear an interesting novelty vest or cummerbund which makes your outfit stand out from the crowd.
T-Shirts / Pastel Colors - Absolutely, positively not! Not only would you be arrested, the fashion police would throw away the key! Keep in mind, not only do you want to look your best for this day, but you don't want to be embarrassed looking at the pictures 5 years later!