For too long, the summer equals colour diktat has inspired men who otherwise live in monochrome to embrace bold shades and wild floral prints they don’t quite have the confidence to pull off. But is it absolutely necessary to embrace vibrancy with both sleeves?
The reasons that all-black works in winter – it’s slimming, timelessly chic, it lets you experiment with silhouettes and cuts, no one’s going to notice if you spill a drink on your jeans – all hold true for summer. You just need to pick pieces that won’t make you spontaneously combust.
The all-black look can be a little muted (read: boring), so let the finer details – like your footwear and accessories (more on that later) – create a subtle impact. The Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Essential makes up for what it lacks in vibrancy with sharp mesh detailing throughout, to prove that texture is just as eye-catching as any neon sneaker.
For on-duty days, black options abound. But if everything else is inky, a tiny pop of colour will help accentuate the darkness; loafers with a contrast stitch, or driving shoes with coloured soles, offer ventilation and sartorial punch. Win win.
All-black ensembles are tough in high summer since you’re donning the menswear equivalent of a solar panel. Which means you need fabrics that will prevent you from overheating.
“Keep them as light as possible and stay away from heavy cotton blends,” says The Idle Man’s Luke McCarthy. “A lot of brands offer lighter cotton tees to make sure it’s a little more breathable. If you’re wearing jeans, avoid anything too heavy and maybe opt for some roll ups with a straight or slim shape to let air circulate around your legs.”
Your winter palette can cross into summer; your actual winter wardrobe should not. Skinny and slim fits are good for cold weather since they trap heat near your skin. Try that in the height of summer and you’ll end up on an IV for emergency fluid replacement.
“Boxier, wider cuts will keep you looking cool while adding in a few points of effortlessness,” says stylist Jenna Riddle. “The skintight NME vibe is on its last legs anyway, so go for loose yet form-flattering shapes.”
And as for the deep V-neck? “Never acceptable. No matter how hot you are.” Ditto nipple exposing racer back vests.
Accessory To Murdered-Out
If texture is the best way to dress up a black canvas, accessories are the perfect frame. Summer offers a rare chance to flash arms, wrists and ankles, so grasp the opportunity with a sports-led backpack, contrast Compton-esque white tube socks, some understated jewellery, or a classic watch.
If considering the latter, Erica Redgrave, watch buyer at Selfridges, advises a flash of bling against the monochrome. “Whether gold or steel, a glint of metal on the wrist is the perfect finish. All-black looks are often considered safe, so dispel the myth with a simple yet contemporary choice from Nomos, Uniform Wares or Nixon.”
All-black-errthang isn’t just for off-duty occasions. It is possible to create smarter looks without having to default to a black wool two-piece.
“A thin cotton trouser or chino is incredibly formal when worn in tandem with full tailoring, but you can blend them into an all-black look with ease,” says Martha Gill, fashion executive at The Sunday Times.
“Pair with a medium-fit black T-shirt or polo, tucked in if you fancy. It’s smart, but not too smart.” You’ll also be taking trend cues from the heavyweights: Prada and Tom Ford both championed the darker tailored trouser for SS16.