So true. People seem to think it's a rare occasion, and in a sense it is. However, there are far more back tie events than one would think, if only you seek them out. My wife and I have between 3-4 a year now. And this is just in the arts scene. We'd have even more if we wanted to go to more events.
And you know how Chicago is. It has a glut of black tie events for those who want to go.
Where does one find such events? Gala's are a bit out of my budget, but I have found an annual black tie ballroom dance event.