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Men’s dress code guide I.

White tie
The phrase “formal attire” is badly misunderstood in modern society.
Formal attire does not mean suits and ties! It is a substantially higher dress code, requiring 
clothes that most men don’t own.
If you request formal attire on an invitation (and you don’t belong to an extremely wealthy 
and upper class set), understand that you’re probably asking the majority of your guests to go 
through the rental process.
Formal wear for men changes depending on the time of day: in daylight hours, it means 
morning dress with a tailcoat and vest, while at night it means white tie.
Both of these are extremely strict dress codes.
It would be unusual (and a bit presumptuous) to request full formal attire for a personal 
event. Most white-tie affairs are diplomatic events, or high-formality award ceremonies and 
the occasional British sporting event.

Black tie
Don’t let the diminutive phrasing fool you — semi-formal attire is still the strictest dress code 
most of us will wear in our lives.
Like formal wear, semi-formal attire changes based on time of day. In the evening it is the 
familiar black tie (tuxedo) ensemble, while in the daytime the stroller (a relaxed alternative to 
morning dress) is appropriate.
Most modern guests will not be aware of the distinction. Tuxedos at daytime events are a 
depressingly common occurrence nowadays. If you, as the host or hostess, wish men to come 
attired in strollers, it may be worth your while to print out a phrase such as “Daytime Semi-
formal (Strollers for Men)” in the “Attire” or “Dress Code” section of your invitation. It’s a 
bit clunky, but it prevents confusion.
Some men own their own tuxedos, but for the most part this is another dress code that will 
force attendees to rent attire. Use it sparingly, and only for events of great significance like 
weddings. It would be very unusual for anyone outside of the jet set to throw more than one or 
two semi-formal events in his or her lifetime!
If you receive a semi-formal invitation, give yourself plenty of time for the rental process. 
Expect it to take several weeks from your first fitting and outfit selection for the clothes to 
arrive and be adjusted.
Be firm with the sales staff, and make it clear that you are only interested in true black tie (or daytime semi-formal) attire — these days, most of the offerings at rental outlets are cartoon-
colored costumes for high school proms and novelty weddings, not real formal and semi-
formal wear.
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