How to Wear Black in Classic Menswear

Black and menswear have an interesting relationship.  For a start, black is necessary for conservative and formal dress: menswear experts will tell you that you need a black pair of oxfords for business suits, your tuxedo, bowtie (which must be black as well), and so on.  They will also say to avoid other black pieces like the plague. Black dress shirts look cheap, black suits are never appropriate (except at a funeral), black odd trousers don’t go with anything, and I’ve even heard that black loafers are antithetical to the concept of black or loafers (as in loafers are casual, but black is formal).
As a result, for the longest time guys avoided incorporating black into their outfits. However, that seems to be changing.

Scott Fraser Simpson in black shirt:shoes and olive slacks.
Scott Fraser Simpson in a black shirt, shoes, and olive slacks.
Continue reading

Why I (Almost) Never Wear Black Clothing

I almost never wear black clothing. It’s true. That’s because black clothing bores the hell out of me, and life’s too short as it is. I have seen a lot – a lot – of clothing sold by a lot of different retailers, and 9 times out of 10 when the season’s buy is all black it’s because consumers don’t know what the hell to do with anything else. Sure, there are exceptions, and I can already hear you lot frothing at the mouth, ranting about “dandyism” and “Baudelaire” and “anonymity” and no one cares so shut up and listen.

If your goal is to spend as little time as possible thinking about your clothing, great. If you want to ignore all the world’s beautiful, vibrant color, that’s valid. That’s your business. Wear all the black you want. I won’t be joining you, and here’s why: colors are beautiful. Whether it’s the deep tones of indigo, the coarse browns and greens of homespun wool, the crimson or gold of rich velvet, there are simply too many gorgeous things in the world to limit myself to the mundanity of black.

black clothing

Me, resolutely wearing as many colors at once as possible.

I own a handful of pieces of black clothing. A jacket or two, and a couple pairs of jeans. On the rare occasions when I do wear black, I wear one piece tops. When it’s sunny outside, and things are looking up, I can never bring myself to intentionally put a damper on the day. And when it’s grey or unpleasant out, and I’m feeling down, I’m not going to go out of my way to make things worse. There are endless examples of how to win with color in both the classic menswear style thread and its streetwear counterpart, so I feel I’m justified in pointing you in that direction. Plus, Peter wrote a great tailoring-focused article on color just these week. But even if you don’t wear a suit; even if you self-identify as an intellectual, artistic type, there’s no reason you need to wear black all the time.

“Wearing black is all about texture,” you might say. “And silhouette.” I have essentially the same reaction to these declarations as I do when bloggers tell me to “Up my game,” which is to close my laptop and stare at the ceiling for a solid thirty seconds. So yes, I call shenanigans, unless texture and silhouette somehow cease to exist in the presence of color. Black doesn’t offer me anything that colorful clothing doesn’t – in fact, it’s an absence of one of the small things that reliably brings a smile to my face, and I’m loathe to give that up. I appreciate the challenge of matching colors as well as textures, of comparing shades of blue and purple, and I love the beauty of colors that reflect the seasons changing around me.

And so, when I look at my closet in the morning, overflowing with colors and fabrics and shapes of all kinds, and I get to go through all the pieces one by one I feel – I feel…I feel as though my life would be much simpler if I just wore black every day.