There’s a time for vibrancy. Whether it’s the summer’s trending Hawaiian shirts or a tie that injects some much-needed life into your business-casual looks during the colder months, the colour wheel rarely stops spinning. But when you’re tired of wondering whether lemon and mauve go (they don’t, by the way) 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 it is in clubs, or shutting down the front row. But it’s happiest in certain wardrobe staples, the inky workhorses that every good look is built on.
Whether you prefer to dabble in darkness or go all out with the deceptively easy (but always effective) all-black-everything look, these are the pieces you need and how to wear them.
How To Wear All-Black
Due to the very nature of the shade, black has a whiff of villainy about it. Wear an all-black look and chances are you’ll instantly feel a little cooler than you did a moment ago. All-black is Johnny Cash on stage; the Reservoir Dogs crew walking in tandem; Batman flying through Gotham, and Jon Snow saving Westeros. All-black is cool. And it’s surprisingly easy to pull off.
But how is it done in everyday wear? Unlike other colours, there’s no chance of clashing by choosing two garments that are similar in tone – there’s no such thing as different shades of black. Instead, all-black mastery comes in pairing contrasting fabrics, which subtly breaks up a look while adding a welcome dash of texture.
When it comes to trying your own all-black look then, be aware of fabric choice. Look to mix corduroy with wool, leather jackets with denim and cashmere with cotton – the more, the better. This’ll give a bit of life to what you’re wearing and will prevent things from looking too flat. For example, a black cotton shirt paired with black trousers of the same fabric will make you look like either a waiter or a bouncer, and nobody wants that.
Once you’ve got this simple rule down, all-black is a walk in the park, which is part of the appeal in the first place. Not only is it easy to combine garments, investing in black clothing could actually save you money since everything goes together. And not only that, your new black bomber jacket can be worn with virtually everything else in your wardrobe – there’s not a colour that black doesn’t suit.
4 All-Black Outfits To Consider
A black leather jacket is a menswear classic that, if chosen well and cared for, can last a lifetime. It’s also a versatile piece that can be dressed up or down with ease, although it arguably looks best when worn with an all-black look such as this. Note the smart trousers and roll neck which elevates the ‘fit – simply swap them for a T-shirt and jeans for a more casual take.
Leather a little too much? Try a black denim jacket, which is just as classic but arguably easier to wear. Black denim offers plenty of texture, meaning it will contrast well against smarter fabrics such as wool and cashmere, and it’s the perfect layering piece. Try an open black shirt layered above a black knit, and combine with black jeans and chunky-soled shoes.
A black overcoat can be a risky purchase – there’s a chance you could look like a funeral attendee, but, go for the right one and few items prove more handsome. The trick is to choose something with little structure and a soft, slouchy silhouette – you want to look effortless, not uptight. Throw it on over a tucked in T-shirt, tapered, slightly cropped trousers and black leather Derbies, and you’ll have more than a whiff of Parisian art student about you.
Most tailoring traditionalists advise against buying a black suit – there’s something about the way the light hits the colour that can make them look cheap. But, go for a textured black wool – a hopsack or basketweave – and you immediately negate this problem. Also, there’s just something cool about a black suit that navy can never replicate, especially when paired with a roll neck and Chelsea boots.
Few things are likely to link bubbling-up grime MCs to creative middle managers, but black sneakers manage to do just that.
Bought right — in premium, hard-wearing leather — they’ll work with any suit, be it tailored or track just as their white minimalist cousins, without the same level of puddle vigilance required.
A Black Watch
A ‘proper’ watch is no longer the preserve of guys in pinstripe suits. Thanks to new brands cropping up in the last half decade, the art of Swiss watchmaking has been given a fashion-led makeover.
An all-black dial is a blank canvas that works with everything already hanging in your wardrobe, which makes adding an extra zero to your investment far easier to justify.
An all-black ensemble can be considered no such thing if a mistimed laundry day leaves hot pink separating your trousers and shoes.
Having a few decent black pairs to hand (err, foot?) not only keeps that slick line from head to toe going, but they’ll far outlast any grubby white tube socks. Opt for breathable cotton for wearing with shoes and sneakers and thicker wool styles for slipping under boots.
A Black Overcoat
While shades of brown such as camel burn bright on almost every runway, street corner and bar stool, the overcoat crown will always belong to its all-black counterpart.
This winter essential leads a double life: by day, perfectly paired with a city boy suit; by night, a smartened touch to a classic white-tee-and-jeans combo.
Even if you never intend to step foot on a fishing boat, the trawlerman’s black beanie has graced many a dry man’s head, particularly as a means of keeping the cold out during winter.
Granted, if you’re a corporate nine-to-fiver, a rib knit skullcap is hardly the most professional, in which case switch it out for something a little more structured, such as a fedora or baker boy.
A Black Backpack
Though a colour pop or printed version is the easiest way to add interest to an eclipsed look, when you consider a black bag can be worn daily while standing up to the wear and tear of life, it becomes an instant no-brainer.
In an age of cycle commutes and homemade lunches, a quality backpack is a wise choice. However, for something that skews smarter, get a grip on a premium tote or soft shell briefcase.
Every man should own a decent pair of leather shoes. Not only do they fit the bill for every wedding, job interview and Bar Mitzvah on the calendar, but designers and stylists having increasingly been mixing casual threads with more traditional-leaning footwear.
There’s an almost overwhelming choice of styles, but for optimum versatility, go for Derbies over Oxfords, and avoid shiny patents; unless you’re in a dinner suit.
A Bomber Jacket
The bomber jacket isn’t a game-changer by any means, it was first seen on the US army in the 1920s. But in a world of oldies, this one is definitely a goldie.
Today the term refers to just about any short, zip or button-up jacket with a cropped hem and knitted cuffs, but the advice remains the same: pick out well-cut examples with premium details, and you’ll fly high all year round.