Q: My husband and I have received two invitations that state “black tie optional.” He would prefer not to wear a tuxedo, but he doesn’t want to look too casual, either. What are appropriate alternatives? Also, what should I wear to such an event?
A: For men, a formal occasion of this kind calls for a dark suit, a conservative tie, a white shirt, and lace-up shoes. For women it’s less black-and-white (so to speak). Choose something dressy, based on the season, your locale, and your own preferences. You could wear a cocktail dress, an evening suit, or an evening-style blouse and pants made of a dressy fabric like silk or velvet. The hem of your dress or skirt could fall anywhere from just above your knee to mid calf-a formal long dress is appropriate only if your husband wears a tuxedo.