There’s a time for vibrancy. Whether it’s last year’s trip through partly garish, fully sick Hawaiian prints, or a pastel tie that brings life to your officewear, the colour wheel spins in-and-out of trend every season. But when you’re tired of wondering whether lemon and mauve go (they do not) know that darker tones always have your back.
Black is always the new black. It’s never a ‘Colour of the Year’ because it’s the lack-of-colour of every year – the shade that won’t clash, won’t add pounds, and won’t tell tales when you pour a glass of Rioja down yourself. It’s as happy at work as in clubs, or shutting down the front row. But it’s happiest in certain staples, the inky workhorses every wardrobe is built on.
Whether you prefer to dabble in darkness, or the deceptively easy (but always effective) all-black-errthing, these are the pieces you need.
Worn by everyone from the bubbling-up grime MC to the Hoxton art interns that listen to him, all-black leather trainers are on the incline.
Versatility is their strongest asset (they work with any suit, be it tailored or track) but offer some extra benefits: leather is more hard-wearing than suede or canvas and going murdered-out means none of the puddle vigilance and stain buffing that kills the all-white sneaker’s steez.
Opt for a sports brand with plenty of heritage: Reebok Classics, adidas Originals, or the all-black OG, Nike’s Air Max.
Nike Air Max 90 Leather, available at END Clothing, priced £95.
The Darkest Hour
A ‘proper’ watch is no longer the preserve of guys in pinstripe suits. Thanks to brands like Uniform Wares and Larsson & Jennings, the art of Swiss watchmaking has been given a fashion-led makeover – and a murdered-out dial is the blank canvas that works with everything in your wardrobe. Which makes adding an extra zero to your investment easier to justify.
Uniform Wares M42 Chronograph, available at thewatchgallery.com, priced £600.
An all-black ensemble is no such thing if a misjudged laundry day leaves hot pink separating your trousers and shoes. Think that it doesn’t matter what graces your feet in a morning? Well, you thought wrong.
A few decent pairs of black socks not only feel softer, warmer and generally better quality, but also far outlast any depressing bargain bin you’ve been rummaging in. Think minimalist if you’re tailoring-inclined or sportswear if you live in your jeans.
Supima Cotton Wide Rib Socks, available at Uniqlo, priced £3.60.
While shades of camel burn bright on every runway, street corner, bar stool, office coat stand etc., the overcoat crown will always belong to its all-black counterpart.
This winter essential leads a secretive double life: by day, perfectly paired with a city boy suit to crowd blend; by night, a smartened touch to your classic white-tee-and-jeans combo.
Pitch black offerings pack the most punch, yet you can find plenty of strong alternatives in charcoal, dark grey and mottled wool.
Noose & Monkey Wool Overcoat, available at ASOS, priced £180.
Though you’ll likely never set foot on a fishing boat, the trawlerman’s black beanie has graced many a dry man’s head. Granted, if you’re a corporate nine-to-fiver, turning up with a rib knit cap is hardly the most professional, but it’ll get more wear at the weekend than one would initially presume.
Even top level designers offer their own take (Acne Studios weave beanies from dreams) but exercise overt branding with caution – nobody wants to see a ‘Commes Des F*ckdown’ logo. Ever.
Neighborhood Blues Beanie, available at END Clothing, priced £59.
Back, Pack And Rucksack
In an age of cycle commutes (and homemade lunches towards the backend of payday), a quality rucksack is imperative. An all-black option can be worn daily, and if wisely selected, can act as a further stamp of your style credentials.
On the lower price bracket, you can pick up simple yet sharp options from New Balance, Herschel and Mi-Pac, while luxury leather options can rack up thousands but act as the ultimate smart-casual carrier – Tom Ford, I see you.
Herschel Supply Co. Iona Backpack, available at END Clothing, priced £59.
All-leather sneaks most certainly deserve a place in our rundown, but so too does their smarter cousin. Every man should own a decent pair of leather shoes – not only do they fit the bill for every wedding, interview and Bar Mitzvah on the calendar, but we’re increasingly seeing a mixture of casual threads being anchored with more traditional-leaning footwear.
There’s a multitude of choice with brogues, Derbies and loafers, but try and avoid shiny patents; unless you’re in a tuxedo, you’ll just look like an estate agent.
A.P.C. Leather Wingtip Brogues, available at Mr Porter, priced £300.
No, the bomber jacket isn’t a game-changing new piece. But there’s a reason we keep seeing these season after season. From Yeezy to Yohji Yamamoto, this humble piece has become the go-to casual choice and, like any popular garment, has a price point to suit all.
Classic shapes are being countered with oversized billowy alternatives from the likes of Vetements (one to look out for) to break the status quo – just because you’ve seen it before, doesn’t mean you can’t reinvent.
Lux Black Tencel Bomber Jacket, available at Topman, priced £100.