'Gilded Glamour:' The 2022 Met Gala Dress Code and Theme Explained

Here's everything to know about the 2022 Met Gala theme, "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" — and what you can expect from the stars' "white-tie" looks

The Met Gala is almost here and there are guidelines to the glam.

Leave your black ties at home because the dress code for "fashion's biggest night" on May 2 is a white-tie affair with an emphasis on Gilded Glamour, per the fine print on Anna Wintour's coveted invitation.

The dressing guidelines complement the highly anticipated sartorial event's theme, "In America: An Anthology of Fashion," serving as a part two to last year's "A Lexicon of Fashion." According to Vogue, this year's theme will celebrate the "inclusivity" of American fashion.

Andrew Bolton, head curator of the Museum of Modern Art's Costume Institute, told Vogue that the fashion stories displayed across the 13-room exhibition will "really reflect the evolution of American style, but they also explore the work of individual tailors, dress-makers, and designers."

Channeling the time period between 1870 to 1890, the style extravaganza "will ask its attendees to embody the grandeur — and perhaps the dichotomy — of Gilded Age New York," per Vogue.

Tom Ford and Benedict Cumberbatch attend the "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City.
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

As for the white-tie requirement, if you're wondering why it sounds less familiar than its black-tie counterpart, the outlet notes that it is a "dress code required at only the most formal — and historic — of occasions."

One of the last times white-tie was seen at a Met Gala was during 2014's theme, "Charles James: Beyond Fashion," which celebrated the work of inventive American designer Charles James, known for his elaborate, structural ball gowns.

Keep scrolling as we break down the meanings behind the two Met Gala style directives and how they relate to this year's overall theme.

What does white-tie attire consist of?

Queen Elizabeth II (L) and US President Barack Obama (R) pose in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace ahead of a State Banquet on May 24, 2011 in London, England.

Black and white-tie affairs are differentiated by levels of formality — and according to GQ, "White tie is the undisputed champion." The dress code typically accompanies an event of extreme importance or one in which an elite caliber of guests receive the invite, like royals.

The literal dress donned for men comes to no surprise: a white bow tie. This is an absolute must, in addition to a required white waistcoat and an evening tailcoat. It's imperative that the jacket be worn unbuttoned and have peaked lapels. Trousers must be high-waisted and have two lines of braid along the outside.

As for the shirt, it "must be a stiff white evening shirt (pleated or plain) with single folded cuffs and a wing collar," the outlet added. "Cufflinks are of course a necessity and instead of buttons, studs should be worn in mother-of-pearl or something light."

To complete the look, a black patent leather shoe with black laces and socks are standard — while optional accessories can include a dress cane, top hat and white gloves.

For women, "a grand ballgown and opulent jewels" paired with optional white gloves and a tiara (for a bride on her wedding day) are the typical necessities worn to a white-tie occasion, weddings specialist Anne Chertoff told Brides. "Women should avoid cocktail style dresses or anything that is considered semi-formal or other less formal dress styles," she adds.

What's the history behind white-tie attire?

Bradley Cooper attends the "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City.
Bradley Cooper. Larry Busacca/Getty

While black tie is the dress code that has commonly become the elevated eveningware of choice today — traditionally donned at weddings, operas, soirees, and balls — white-tie attire dates back to the 1800s and ironically was considered a minimalist style, compared to the opulent evening dress of the day.

White tie can be traced back to Victorian-era England around the year 1840 in which the simplicity of a black-and-white color palette paired with a bowtie was the restrained counterpart to the excessive ruffles and accouterments popularly sported at the time.

How does the white-tie dress code relate to the 2022 Met Gala theme?


White tie's history doesn't stop there! In fact, the next part answers the question as to how this year's dress code correlates to the Met Gala theme, "In America: An Anthology of Fashion."

As white tie's origins are rooted in Victorian era-England, it continued — and flourished — during the start of the Gilded Age in America in the 1870s. It became the definitive formal wear for the upper echelon, "worn to the opera and at debutante balls and any of the fancy-dress parties thrown by rich socialites of the day," per Vogue.

Even amid the arrival of the tailless tuxedo in the 1880s, white-tie still dominated.

The Met Gala theme covers the time period from 1870 to 1890, known as the Gilded Age. The era is known for major industrialization and put the likes of John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Cornelius Vanderbilt on the map.

Unprecedented prosperity and cultural change were significant. The light bulb was patented, the telephone was invented, wages skyrocketed — and seemingly instantaneous, so did skyscrapers and fortunes.

What's expected of "Gilded Glamour" at the 2022 Met Gala?

Rihanna arrives at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala celebrating "China: Through the Looking Glass"
Charles Sykes/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

While invitees are required to honor the dress code, they on behalf of the designers have the creative freedom to interpret the theme for themselves. Vogue is encouraging its attendees to envision late 1800s in New York City.

With that in mind, the high society of the day indulged in detailed, intricate, over-the-top fashion thanks to new advances in fabric-making. Ladies' dresses were made of "textiles like satin, silk, velvet, and fringe, all adorned with over-the-top textures like lace, bows, frills, and ruffles," per the outlet.

Think bright, rich colors and luxurious fabrics in the form of gorgeous gowns, graceful gloves, and hats galore! (Oh, and corsets — there will most definitely be corsets.)

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