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What To Wear To A Black Tie Event If You Don’T Have A Tux

30 Nov 2021

It’s not every day that you get invited to a black-tie event. Often reserved for the finer moments, a tux is classed as formal attire that you only bring out on very rare occasions or if you are James Bond.


Black tuxedo

Many modern gents own suits, but not a tuxedo. So, how do you make the most of this and utilise what you already have in your wardrobe for black tie events? At Cavani, we have a wealth of experience and knowledge, and we’re going to show you ways in which you can look smart at a black-tie event even though you don’t own a tux.  

What is the difference between a tuxedo and a suit?

One of the very first things you should know when it comes to black-tie event attire is the differences between a tuxedo and a suit. To the untrained eye, a tuxedo and a suit may look like the same thing, but they are in fact, very different. So, what are the difference between a tuxedo and a suit?



  • Usually, tuxedos have satin facing the lapels, pocket trims, buttons and a satin stripe down the side of the leg of the trousers. 
  • Accessories include a bow tie, cufflinks, cummerbunds and waistcoat. 
  • Buttons: satin buttons.


  • Suits don’t usually incorporate any satin.
  • Accessories include a tie, cufflinks, pocket square and waistcoat.
  • Buttons: plastic buttons or buttons made with the same fabric as the suit.

    Suit Terminology

    The suit world can be confusing; if you have ever set foot in a tailoring shop, you wouldn’t be judged for thinking that they were speaking another language. Understanding the components and terminology can be difficult. This is why we have created a list of commonly used phrases or words within the suit and tux world.

    Blue suit with burgundy accents

    Bib: Not to be confused with the velcro type often adorned with cute drawings for toddlers, a bib in the tailoring world is very different. A bib is known as a panel that sits up the front of a dress shirt and ensures that the appearance stays bright white and doesn’t look transparent.

    Butterfly Bow Tie: This one isn’t too confusing. A butterfly bow tie is a classic staple of tux attire. A butterfly bow tie is the official name for the standard bow tie and comes from the shape of the tie when it isn’t being worn. 

    Double Breasted: The term double-breasted will always be in conjunction with a jacket and is two parallel columns of buttons and overlapping flaps that cross over one another for a rigid and broad look. 

    Oxford: Used for men’s shoes, the term Oxford describes shoes that have a low heel, closed laces and an exposed ankle.  

    Stud: A stud is known as a decorative fastener that fits into the buttonholes on formal shirts and can help you to deliver a refined look that impresses.  

    Wing collar: As you probably guessed, a wing collar is a starched collar with tips that stand up; they are also horizontal like wings. 

    Understanding the invite to a black-tie event

    When you get your invite to your formal event, there may be a sentence or two that explains the dress code. At Cavani, we’re here to help you decode the invite so that you know exactly what to wear to the function. The last thing we would want is for you to turn up in the wrong attire. 

    • If your invite says ‘Black tie’, you should follow the rules and wear the full ensemble. This includes a dinner jacket, matching trousers, pleated white shirt, bow tie and formal black shoes. A waistcoat is optional. 
    • If your invite says ‘black tie preferred or requested’ it is encouraged that you wear a black tie if you can, but if you don’t wear one, you won’t be turned away from the event. The organisers of the event want to create a formal atmosphere for the event but don’t want to refuse anyone entry. 
    • If your invite says ‘black tie is optional’, you can expect the rules to be more relaxed when it comes to the dress code. With a more relaxed dress code, you can expect fewer people to be wearing tuxedos at the event. A top tip that you should follow here is to opt for a darker suit to ensure that you don’t get mistaken for a waiter. 

    If your invite says ‘creative black tie’, the choice about what you wear is up to you.

    Grey three-pieced

    Outfit ideas for black tie events if you don’t own a tux

    At Cavani, we have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to tailoring and smart casual wear, which is why we have compiled a range of outfits for you to choose from to wear when attending a black-tie event as a non-tux owner. 

    Opt for a dark suit 

    Wearing a dark suit is the best option if you don’t own a tux. If you don’t own a tux, the chances are that you probably already own a navy or blue suit. To ensure that you are somewhat following the dress code, try and make sure that the hue of your suit is a very dark blue or navy. Adding a dark navy suit to your wardrobe is an important addition that every modern gent should have on hand for the finer moments in life. 

    A stand out dinner jacket

    If you want to stand out from the crowd, then you could always wear a dinner jacket that has a pop of colour. One piece that you could wear to a black-tie event is the Rosa Copper Slim Fit Blazer as this is a statement piece that can be repurposed for other occasions. You don’t have to wear the jacket with just a white shirt and tie; another chic option is to pair a statement jacket with a turtleneck. This attire is great for events that suggest “black tie is optional” as you will find ways to repurpose the outfit afterwards but still bring an air of class to the table.

    Suede dinner jacket

    Check out our full range of suits and accessories

    Not having a tux doesn’t need to be a huge inconvenience, and it certainly doesn’t have to stop you from going to a black tie event. If you are worried about not owning a tuxedo, you should make sure that you focus on accessories such as bow ties, which will pull your full outfit together and ensure you look suave. Make sure that you check out the full range of suits available at Cavani, and get ready for that black tie event!

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