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Is the Black Tie Dress Code a thing of the past?

The black tie dress code; loved by many as a rare chance to dress up in a world of ‘smart casual’ and loathed by others as an expensive, boujie throwback. A formal dress code can strike fear into the hearts of even the most seasoned event delegate – how literally will others take it? Will you be the only one there in a tux or floor length dress? What does black tie even mean in 2023?

To fully meet the traditional black tie brief, you could choose to don a dinner jacket, white shirt, black bow tie and dress shoes, or opt for an evening gown more akin to old Hollywood glamour than office chic (dresses crafted from silk, satin, chiffon and lace are all black-tie winners according to fashion designer Samantha Benveniste). These strict dress codes should help delegates to understand what the expectation is ahead of an event and give an insight into what other guests will be wearing so they can prepare in advance, but it can also add extra pressures and expense if you don’t have anything handy in your wardrobe and feel expected to buy a new dress or hire a tux.


Shifts in workplace culture, particularly with start-ups and tech companies, has seen a noticeable move away from traditional dress codes in the office. According to a study conducted by the Society for Human Resources Management as many as 24% of businesses in the UK now offer a flexible dress code policy and this relaxed approach reflects a broader trend towards creating a more vibrant and inclusive work environment – making the black tie dress code even more obscure to modern workers. Millennials and Gen Z now dominate the workforce and they are leading the way with a more casual dress both in and out of the office. In fact, 74% of millennials said they thought that a relaxed dress code positively impacted their productivity.

Not everyone is ready to get rid of the chance to feel a little fancy in 2023. According to market research firm Mintel, 37%of people in the UK still believe that dressing formally to a work event is a sign of respect and seriousness in a corporate setting. Certain sectors, like finance and law, are much more likely to adhere to these stricter guidelines for event dressing – usually down to maintaining a level of tradition and meeting client expectations for professional services.

We spoke to one North East based business leader in the manufacturing sector, who said, “I like that black tie events give everyone the chance to dress up, these events are usually a celebration of our team’s achievements and it adds sense of occasion that feels different and exciting. Most members of our team love the chance to get their glad rags on and take part in something out of the ordinary that marks all of their hard work during the year.”

Love it or hate it, the formal attire dress code has been a part of events since 1860 when the first dinner jacket was first worn by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). The jacket was initially born out of practicality as he wanted to wear a shorter jacket when on his yacht and this style evolved into the form of eveningwear that we know today. But, as its unlikely that you will be sailing to your event in 2023, is requiring guests to dress in a certain way still fit for purpose in 2023? We turned to LinkedIn to find out what our network had to say…

Surprisingly 84 percent of people who responded to our poll said that they still enjoy black tie events and love the opportunity to get dressed up, with only 16 percent of people thinking that they are a bit old fashioned.

So, it turns out the black tie dress code is not totally obsolete but it’s certainly on the down turn and will undoubtedly become less and less prevalent as younger talent moves up the ranks. Do you still love the chance to get dressed up? Head over to our social media pages and let us know your thoughts…

To find out more about creating an experience that your delegates will remember, right in the North East contact