Black Tie Dress Code: Vogue Decodes The Rules

10 DECEMBER 2015 by Ellie Pithers Vogue Magazine

NIM, leather, suede and trainers – all were banned at the Vogue Christmas party this year, much to the Vogue team’s distress. “That rules out most of my wardrobe,” muttered one fashion editor. “I’ve got absolutely nothing to wear,” said another, surveying the Mark’s Club dress code – “elegant” – and wrinkling her brow.

Black tie dress code dilemmas are ten-a-penny at Christmas. The Vogue team can do “elegant”, natch – but we want to look fearlessly cool, too. This year, that meant vintage slip dresses cinched at the waist, Gucci and Stella McCartney tailoring worn with low-key silk camisoles, and shoulder-grazing silver earrings and black suede ankle boots with everything (J.W. Anderson’s were the popular choice). Several guests chose the instant impact of a ruby red dress – the perfect party pick-me-up that looks fabulous on any skin tone, and especially fabulous with a white Maribou stole, à la Erin O’Connor.

Picture credit: Getty

But not all hosts are as specific. Here’s our guide to decoding the dress code on your party invites this season:

1. Consider the medium. Old-school pigeon post? The thicker the card (and the more fanciful the calligraphy); the smarter the event. If it came via Facebook, you can relax a little. Don’t let Paperless Post confuse you – just because it came over email doesn’t mean it’s not a floorlength dress affair.

2. Assess the location and choose your shoes accordingly. Gravel, paving, parquet floor? Park the stilettos – or if you simply must wear your new blood red velvet Jimmy Choos, find a willing squire to ferry you across danger areas.

3. Get hold of the guest list. This provides you with people to quiz about their interpretation of the dress code, and handy intel when you’re considering repeat wearing an old favourite or debuting a new one. You don’t want to turn up wearing the same dress as someone else, nor do you want to be caught in the LBD half the party sees you in every other month.

Picture credit: Getty

4. Don’t be afraid to text your host for clarification. One man’s “dress to impress” is another man’s “barely-there Balmain minidress”. Which may well be impressive – but entirely wrong for a charity gala.

Picture credit: Indigital

 

Picture credit: Indigital

5. If it’s a dance-all-night kinda bash, you can’t go wrong with something short and glitzy. Sequins have shaken off their Strictly Come Dancing overtones this season, so flaunt them while you can. Gucci, Nina Ricci and Saint Laurent make the best.

6. If it’s a black tie event, don’t wear boring black (unless you’re Cate Blanchett in Armani, with your hair pulled back and a pair of stonking gold ball earrings grazing your shoulders). Full-length slip dresses are the fashion choice – we love Alexander Wang’s olive green, Galvan’s rusty pink, and anything by Calvin Klein – but two-piece suits are equally seductive when worn with a silk camisole and heels.

Always bear in mind: if your host is making a real effort, you need to make one too. And if all else fails, a slash of Charlotte Tilbury’s 1975 red matte lipstick always packs a punch.

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