White tie

White tie

White tie (evening dress, full evening dress in the U.K.) is the most formal evening dress code. In the United Kingdom, civilian day court dress in the Royal court is similar to white tie. Yet, white tie has replaced it in formal state occasions, e.g. ambassadors at the State Opening of Parliament.

White tie is worn only after 6 o'clock and before that time the daytime equivalent called morning dress is worn. The semi-formal counterparts of white tie are black tie in the evening and semi-formal morning dress during the day. (cf. Formal wear definitions)


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Men's clothes

Formal evening dress is strictly regulated, and properly comprises:

* Black tailcoat with silk (ribbed or satin) facings, horizontally cut-away at the front
* Black trousers with a single stripe of satin or braid in the US or two stripes in Europe; trousers are fish-tail back, thus worn with braces (suspenders) as opposed to a belt.
* White plain stiff-fronted cotton shirt
* White stiff-winged collar
* White bow tie (usually cotton pique)
* White low-cut waistcoat (usually cotton piqué, matching the bow tie and shirt)
* Black silk stockings
* Black patent leather pumps or shoes

The front of the dress coat is cut as if it were double-breasted, but is never buttoned. It is, in fact, cut so that it cannot be closed. The front cut-away is squared, in contrast to a morning coat, which has a diagonally-angled cut-away. Both dress coats and morning coats are tail coats, the former for evening dress, and the latter for day wear. Since the waistcoat must not extend below the coat front, it must be high; the waistcoat must cover the trouser waistline (which should "never" be seen) so this must be also high.

Additionally, it is common to wear medals, sashes, and other decorations with white tie dress, especially if the man has some military, political, or royal background.

At some state and heraldic occasions in Britain, black buckled pumps, knee-breeches and silk stockings are worn instead of trousers.Fact|date=November 2007 This is particularly necessary where the garter of the Order of the Garter is intended to be worn.

The waistcoat and bow tie are usually made of cotton marcella, although plain white or off-white silk bow ties and waistcoats are sometimes worn. The shirt should have a detachable stand up collar, with a plain but stiffly starched front. Shirts with marcella fronts were traditionally frowned on but during the course of the twentieth century have gained in acceptability. Shirt studs and cufflinks should be silver or white. A white chest pocket handkerchief and boutonnière may be worn. At occasions of state, and in the presence of royalty, state decorations are worn by those who have been awarded them: miniature medals plus up to four breast stars, a narrow neck riband and a broad riband (sash). If a Knight of the Garter wears breeches, he wears his garter under his left knee. Ladies of the Garter wear theirs above their left elbow.

The hat should be a black silk top hat which may be collapsible - a tradition which arose from the fact that opera houses traditionally lacked a cloak room to hand in a top hat. The overcoat should be a dark Chesterfield overcoat, Inverness cloak, or an opera cloak. White gloves were traditionally considered essential. A silk scarf and cane are optional extras.

Women's clothes

Although female dress is not as formally codified as that of men, where white tie is prescribed women are generally expected to wear full-length dresses such as ball gowns. Depending on the formality of the event, bare shoulders may or may not be acceptable. Shawls and long gloves are common accessories. At the most formal balls, ball gowns are often required to be white.

Where state decorations are worn it will usually be appropriate for married women to wear tiaras.


Military mess dress or hunt uniform may also be seen at a white tie event, on appropriate occasions.

National Dress

National costume may also be worn to white tie functions [http://www.pch.gc.ca/progs/cpsc-ccsp/pe/vest_e.cfm] .

cottish Highland dress

As a specific example of national dress, Scottish Highland dress may also be worn by men at white tie events.

The traditional white tie version of Highland dress consists of:

* Black formal kilt jacket - the Prince Charlie coatee, Montrose doublet, Sheriffmuir doublet, Kenmore doublet or regulation doublet is suitable
* Black barathea (or velvet, with a velvet doublet) or white piqué waistcoat; no waistcoat is worn with the Kenmore doublet
* Kilt
* White piqué shirt with white studs and cufflinks
* White piqué bow tie with the coatee or regulation doublet; white lace jabot with the other doublets
* Black Ghillie brogues; black buckle brogues ("Mary Janes") may be worn with the Montrose, Sheriffmuir, or Kenmore doublet
* Tartan or red and white, red and black or blue and white diced kilt hose
* Flashes
* Sporran - formal type with a silver-mounted cantle-top and fur pouch or a full fur and animal mask type

"See also: Scottish apparel"

Appropriate occasions

Like black tie, evening dress is generally worn only after 6 p.m. (see note 1 for an exception). Occasions include:

* State dinners (e.g. dinners with visiting heads of state)
* Some Commemoration balls and May balls at old Universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham
* Hunt balls.
* Carnival Balls
* Some balls during the London Season
* the Lord Mayor of London's Mansion House Banquet (although Gordon Brown famously ignored the dress code whilst he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.) [cite news
title=Gordon Brown gives in to Lord Mayor's dress code

The situation is similar in the United States, though for many formal occasions (such as weddings and the Academy Awards, for example) the white-tie-and-tail suit was replaced by the standard black-tie tuxedo, after the 1950s. The white-tie had sometimes informally been known as the "soup-and-fish" suit, because it was worn for formal many-course meals which began with soup, then fish, before meat dishes. [http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/12/messages/1148.html] [http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-sou2.htm] . In America white-tie is still occasionally seen at:
* Balls and cotillions
* Weddings
* Artistic premiers or the opening of an art season in large cities, such as the opera or ballet. The swallow-tail coat with long tails has become almost a cliché for concert pianists of the classical school.

In Austria and elsewhere in Continental Europe there are many balls where white tie is worn; a notable example is the Vienna Opera Ball. In Finland, Norway, Sweden as well as The Netherlands many academic traditions (disputations, commencement ceremonies, and academic balls) still require white tie, even during day time. In these countries, academic traditions require a black waistcoat for day-time ceremonies. If no ladies without doctoral degree are present, it is customary to use black waistcoat even in evening. [ [http://www.utu.fi/media/ohjeet/karonkkaperinne/ Sillanpää, M. Karonkkaperinne.] University of Turku. fi] In formal academic balls of student unions, student nations, and other student organizations, couleur is worn with the white tie. In Finland, Norway and Sweden many weddings are white tie as is the Nobel Prize ceremony and dinner occasions with the head-of-state. Doctors may use their doctoral headgear instead of opera hat as part of their white tie even in non-academic occasions. In some universities (most notably Helsinki University of Technology), doctoral regalia includes a black tailcoat with facings bearing the insignia of the university, embroidered in gold or silver. Doctors from these universities may wear this regalia at all occasions requiring white tie. On the other hand, doctoral swords are not usually worn in normal white tie occasions.

In Japan for school graduation ceremonies, white tie is reserved for the "special dignitaries" such as the school principal and the teachers of the graduating students.

Conductors, classical pianists, and members of an orchestra or symphony playing classical music often are dressed in white tie, as well as many college level choirs, and the occasional barbershop quartet.

Related forms of dress

White ties were historically worn by clerics and in the professions that formerly were filled by priests and minor clerics. In various forms they are still worn as part of:

* Clerical dress (by persons in Holy Orders)
* Clerical dress (by clerks etc. in Parliament)
* Court dress (in courts of law)
* Court dress (in the Royal court)
* Academic dress (in the older universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and St Andrews)
*The form of school dress known as 'Stick Ups' is used to recognize senior pupils of note at Eton CollegeWhite ties are not usually worn with military mess dress, where black ties are most often worn even with the most formal variants. In the Royal Navy, mess dress (as opposed to mess undress) requires a white waistcoat but a black tie.


External links

* [http://www.cam.ac.uk/societies/cuhags/whitetie/defn.htm Definition of white tie]
* [http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saaldiener Formal working dress of Attendants of the German Parliament]
* [http://www.porthalcyon.com/features/200405/gentlemanly001.shtml Living Gentlemanly] (the details of wearing White tie)

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • White-tie — White tie, a. requiring formal evening clothes, usually interpreted as a white bow tie and a tailcoat for men, and a formal evening dress for women; as, a white tie reception at the embassy. Contrasting with {black tie} and {informal}. [PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • white-tie — adj [only before noun] a white tie social occasion is a very formal one at which the men wear white ↑bow ties and ↑tails →↑black tie …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • white tie — white′ tie′ n. 1) clo a white bow tie, worn with formal evening dress 2) clo formal evening dress for men (disting. from black tie ) …   From formal English to slang

  • white-tie — adjective a white tie social occasion is very formal and men must wear white BOW TIES and TAILS …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • white tie — ► NOUN 1) a white bow tie worn by men as part of full evening dress. 2) full evening dress …   English terms dictionary

  • white tie — n. 1. a white bow tie, properly worn with a swallow tailed coat 2. a swallow tailed coat and its accessories …   English World dictionary

  • white-tie — white′ tie′ adj. clo requiring that male guests wear formal attire …   From formal English to slang

  • white tie — noun 1. bow tie worn as part of a man s formal evening dress • Hypernyms: ↑bow tie, ↑bow tie, ↑bowtie 2. formalwear consisting of full evening dress for men • Syn: ↑dress suit, ↑full dress, ↑tailcoat, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • white-tie — adjective requiring white ties and tailcoats for men a white tie occasion • Similar to: ↑formal * * * /hwuyt tuy , wuyt /, adj. requiring that guests wear formal attire, esp. that men wear white bow ties with formal evening dress: a white tie… …   Useful english dictionary

  • white tie — /waɪt ˈtaɪ / (say wuyt tuy) noun 1. a white bow tie for men, worn with the most formal style of evening dress. 2. Also, white tie and tails. the most formal style of evening dress for men, of which the characteristic garments are a white bow tie… …  

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