Ladies wear full-length formal ball gowns with either full or straight skirts. The gown traditionally has a full length skirt reaching at least to the ankles and is made of a luxurious fabric such as satin, silk, taffeta, or velvet or synthetic equivalents. The “gown” may be a two piece ensemble. Bare shoulders are acceptable.
Dress length above the ankle and/or a dress slit extending above the knee are inappropriate.
A shawl and opera length gloves are optional for ladies at a black tie event but not required.
Gentlemen wear “tuxedos,” that is, a black dinner jacket with silk facings, usually grosgrain or satin and matching trousers. Gentlemen may substitute a summer-weight, white dinner jacket for the first and last dances of the season. A tailcoat may be substituted for the tuxedo jacket at all dances.
The traditional interpretation of black tie includes a white formal shirt with either standard or wing collar. The tie should be a black silk bow with matching cummerbund or waistcoat. A patterned/colored tie and cummerbund or waistcoat coordinated with the lady’s attire is appropriate. Black socks and highly polished black shoes are appropriate.
At the December dance it is acceptable to wear a cummerbund or waistcoat colored red, green, or red/green plaid.
Military mess dress uniforms are appropriate. Business suits are inappropriate.
See also the Black Tie Guide.