One of our most complicated lives is following a gala dress code for us guys.
Rather than busying ourselves with the red carpet looks, we want to entice ourselves more into the gala’s core objective, whether it’s a charity, auction, awards, etc.
Also, the food and drinks are part of what we’re here for.
For us men, it is in our high regard to respect the host/s gala event, and we could add more to that by ensuring we follow the dress code accordingly.
These are the guides and tips for gala dinner-approved outfit ideas.
Rest assured, you will look well-dressed and proper for any gala’s dress code, should you stick around until the end of this entry.
Prepare to look dashing and dapper, gentlemen.
1. White tie and Things you should consider
The White Tie is the epitome of formality regarding the dress code for a gala event.
Somewhere on your fancy invitation, whether it indicates “tails,” “dress suit,” or “full evening dress,” it all points back to a white tie event.
This dress code follows sets of rules to do it properly. There are even books on how to dress for a white-tie event!
Being invited to a gala with that high level of formality is truly one rare and prestigious opportunity.
But for modern men like us, it will be a nerve-racking one as we are not bound to these kinds of dress codes.
Worry not; I will give you the essentials for this dress code. Bite-sized fundamentals for your white tie dress code.
2. A Dapper Tuxedo with Tails
A tuxedo with a tail or an evening dress coat, to be specific, is what you would wear on the white tie dress code.
It may look too theatrical and operatic for some guys. Still, there was a time back in the day when this was considered a “standard formality” for any formal event.
Back to the primary concern, ensuring it fits you perfectly is a no-brainer. A trip to the tailor for size adjustments is not optional but a must.
From the waist and shoulder curve, fit on your arms, and the tail length will be measured and adjusted to your own size.
White-tie events are sporadic nowadays, and as a friend who wants to help you legitimately.
And not some random stranger who only wants you to sell stuff with links you won’t need. It is wiser to rent this evening dress coat instead.
You’ll have better varieties and have a chance to rent a reputable branded one.
Before I forget, ensure your rentals arrive at least a week before the main event to ensure everything is correct and precise in measurements.
3. Waistcoat and Shirt
Who would have thought there were even rules on what kind of waistcoat and shirt you need to use to properly execute a white tie dress code?
From the detachable wing-tip of 1.25 to 1.75 inches and a bib-like front, also known as bosom, it is far from your usual formal dress shirt.
It is always white, like sparkling white, with minimal decoration.
The waistcoat should be undercut and have a deep V on the front to emphasize the formal dress shirt more.
Most fashion critics say that a perfectly fitted waistcoat should not be much lower than the tailcoat’s front part. It should be hanging above the waist and not below.
Also, the waistcoat’s color and bowtie should be perfectly the same.
4. Socks and Shoes
Patent leather pumps or court shoes with a black ribbon are always preferred for the white tie dress code.
But to nail this rule precisely and show that you know the drill, use black silk sheer socks. You may be forgiven by wearing your ordinary black socks, but it’s a white tie occasion.
Why not give the extra mile for this one, yes?
5. Boutonnière and Other Accessories
Boutonnière is a flower-like accessory worn as an alternative to pocket squares. Only choose one from a boutonniere or a pocket square; you can’t have both.
If you choose to have a boutonniere, make sure it is real or looks real. Gardenias and Carnations will be your best bet.
Please don’t use a plastic or a random clump of fabrics as a boutonniere. Not only does it look cheap, but you will also be criticized.
For a pocket square, go for white. Plain, no designs, formal looking, and white.
A Top Hat can be a great add-on to a white tie outfit only if you have a budget.
Top Hat subliminally means the “top” hat money could buy. If not, you can skip this one; that’s totally fine.
Cufflinks should match the waistcoats button and studs of the shirt. Or at least either of them. And you cannot choose just any kind of cufflinks and studs color/design.
Most favored are genuine mother of pearl, silver, mainly sterling, white gold, and platinum. It somehow goes from an old code “No yellow gold after 5 p.m.”
Evening Gloves are the fancier choice of men with a white tie accessory.
Always in white and should be leather. Don’t get too overwhelmed with the formality and glove slap someone for a duel.
6. Black Tie and its difference to White Tie Code
Aside from the difference in color in the bow tie, the tailcoat, and sophistication in formality details, a black tie dress code is more common for many events. Anyone is likely to get an invitation with this kind of dress code.
Unlike the white tie dress code, you’ll be very much forgiven in the black tie dress code for missing the rulebook as long as you do the most paramount thing.
Wear a Tuxedo.
You are expected not to wear a regular suit. It should always be a tuxedo for the black tie event, non-negotiable.
7. The Ideal Tux
The highly recommended for a black tie dress code is for your tuxedo to be in midnight blue. Why? So you could stand out stylishly apart from the uniformed black tuxedos.
Also, a midnight blue tuxedo is historically accurate as it is the authentic vintage style of a tuxedo.
A gala dinner also has a lot of artificial lighting, making your midnight blue tux appear blacker than black.
A notch lapel for the tuxedo can be forgiven. Forgiven but technically incorrect. A peak lapel is an excellent choice for the tuxedo, but a silk shawl lapel is simply divine.
8. It should be a Bow Tie, not a Neck Tie
It is socially acceptable to wear a necktie with a tuxedo. But for such a momentous occasion that indicates “black tie,” one should go for the black bowtie instead.
Not only are you telling the event’s host/s that you are respecting the occasion, but all people around you will also take you seriously and positively.
A friendly tip! For a more sophisticated and dapper gentleman look, ensure your bowtie is hand tied.
Stay away from those Velcro or clip-on bow ties. Go legit with a manually tied one.
There are tons of video tutorials on YouTube where you can learn how to tie a bowtie which is very easy and quick to learn.
9. What shoes to wear to gala
There’s one straightforward trick to stand out positively on a black tie event without being too creative.
Wear a shoe that has patent leather and black laces.
That high gloss finish will elevate your looks and add dapper swag with you doing nothing except wearing those shiny leathers.
Simple, proper, very formal, and falls accordingly to the event’s dress code.
10. Should you wear a wristwatch?
It is a YES and a NO.
One BIG No if you will wear a very bulky wristwatch. Those sports watches won’t work. It will look very awkward in a tuxedo.
It’s a Yes if you will wear something very slim. Especially if the strap is leather? It would add a nice touch.
Or just skip this one and don’t wear any wristwatch at all. It would save you from unsolicited thoughts of others; you might be bored with the event and can’t help but check and take note of the time.
11. Rent or Not to Rent
It is not wrong to have your own investment wardrobe for black tie events, especially if you are invited frequently to these occasions.
It is also not wrong to rent your outfit for a black tie. That’s very normal, and no one will judge you.
On rentals, you can ensure that it is thoroughly neat looking and in proper sizing and who knows, you might stumble upon a branded one.
Just ensure it will arrive at least a few days before the event. If adjustments are needed, particularly the fitting, you’ll still have enough time to fix it.
12. Business Attire Dress Code
The invitation says “Business Attire.” It is a jacket and necktie for us men.
We can be a bit creative with the business dress code, unlike white and black tie, but not too much. And NO Jeans!
You would want to achieve an outfit that looks like what a company CEO would wear.
Formal, sleek, no unnecessary fuzz, and means “business” from head to toe.
Here, you could finally flex those wristwatches. Go on! I know you’ve been tempted to show off those ices.
13. Casual Attire but NOT Too Casual
For the love of fashion, please don’t wear jeans because you read Casual Attire.
A gala dinner should be treated with formality, and so does your outfit. Jeans, sweatpants, and shorts are casual but not formal enough for a gala.
To be honest, the Casual dress code specifically for a formal event like a gala only means that we guys are excused for not wearing any necktie or bowtie. That’s it.
Still doesn’t excuse us from looking casually informal for the event. Still needs to follow the rules. But! You can finally wear sneakers! Which is definitely a win for us guys.
If you wear a pair of sneakers, please make sure they are spotless and fresh looking, aye?
The ideal outfit for this dress code is similar to business attire without the necktie and can finally be creative with colors.
You can go for pastel tones if you would like or prints like floral and shapes!
14. Festive Attire Done the Right Way
There’s one fascinating dress code for a dinner gala, especially for women. It is called Festive attire.
But for us men, this is the most blurred and confusing dress code. Still can’t wear jeans. Yay! Fun… heh…
Hello to our old friends, jacket and pants. You may want to wear a sports jacket.
The livelier and fancier one so women won’t hog all the attention for looking good in an outfit.
For the pants, let’s go for chinos or trousers. To offer a sense of formality and look like we’re festive yet dapper gentlemen.
15. Most Useful Tip for Guys on a Gala
You learned all the dos and don’ts of the dress codes. Ready to jump in straight to the Gala looking nice and proper?
STOP! You forgot something vital highlight for us guys.
It’s the Hair! It’s the face value, bro.
Go for a trip to your favorite barber or hairdresser. Make sure to have a clean, neat, and proper hairstyle for the event.
Don’t you dare forget those facial hairs as well! Ensure that it is trimmed nicely. Even gentlemen of the ol’ West take good care of their mustaches and beards.
So there you are guys – the 15 outfit ideas and ultimate styling guide if you are wondering what to wear to a gala dinner.
I know, that’s a long read, isn’t it? But hey, I am sure now you have the right mindset for gala attire and are ready to pin down the right outfit to WOW everyone!
If you are looking for more classy man outfit ideas, definitely check out our most popular article below!