I have a question about formal pumps. I always thought patent leather was the convention for black tie, but seeing this picture from Vox's tumblr has me reconsidering. As there's no mistaking formal pumps for standard dress shoes that have been polished up for the occasion, would calf be preferable? I don't have any fondness for patent and I feel patent pumps might be a bit in-your-face.
I've seen formal pumps in both patent and calf. I personally prefer calf, as I can't stand the idea that my shoes have been coated with plastic. I think either one is appropriate. If you polish the calf at the beginning of the evening, they will shine almost as much as patent.