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How and When To Wear a Black Suit

Black suit with purple microprint tie, sitting in chair

It’s not uncommon for a guy to assume his first suit should be black. It seems like a staple, and it is! But it is never the first suit we recommend a person invests in. Once you've got a navy suit and a charcoal suit, it's time to add a black suit to your roster. 

A black suit is simple, but it’s not universal. It comes with a few more rules than a grey or navy suit, but thewy aren’t hard to master. 

Here are some tips to help you pull it off.

9 Tips for Pulling Off a Classic Black Suit

1. Fit is key

 

A poor fitting black suit is one of the worst looks in menswear. The whole purpose of a black suit is to look sharp and crisp, so if the fit is off, people will notice. An expertly tailored black suit is commands attention. A sloppy black suit just drums up pity. 

A black suit needs some substance to it. If the construction is too light, it will look too casual. A slim fit is best, but don’t go too skinny. 

The shoulders should be roped or semi-roped to create a clean look. As always, make sure the jacket falls clean off the shoulders, avoiding any bite or sag. 

The jacket sleeve can allow a little more of your dress shirt cuff to show than a typical suit would, which is a more formal look. 

Otherwise, a black suit should fit like any other suit. Your trousers should fit clean through the thigh and fall clean against your shoe, with a slight break in the front. Your jacket should fit properly, avoiding chest breaks or collar gaps. If you have any questions about fit, be sure to ask! 

2. Invest properly

Don’t cut corners. A black suit is something you’ll need to revisit time and time again, so you want something that will stand the test of time. Invest the first time, paying attention to the quality of the fabric, the construction, and the fit. 

You might find a ready-to-wear black suit that fits perfectly, but made-to-measure is usually the best option, especially for those who have a little more trouble finding the perfect fit. A good tailor will make sure you aren’t committing any cardinal sins, like a saggy seat or collar roll. 

If you choose wisely, your black suit will look crisp for years to come. 

3. Don’t dabble with trends

A black suit is not the place to make a huge splash. Keep it classic, and you can’t go wrong. 

Avoid embellishments like coloured stitching or lapel holes, and unless you’ve already got a simple black suit, don’t experiment with pleats, cuffed trousers, or other trends.

Don’t go crazy with lapel width, either. Super skinny and super wide have both been trendy, but if you keep it in the middle of the road, you won't have to worry about it going out of style. An 8 or 9 cm lapel is best.

4. Choose a white French Cuff shirt

It’s not often you’ll get the chance to wear a French Cuff shirt, so if you’re dressing up your black suit, we highly recommend it. It will also allow you to break out those cufflinks you got as a gift. 

Even if you aren’t going with the French Cuff, stick with a white dress shirt. Black provides high contrast to whatever it’s against, which is why the white works so well. 

Sometimes a black shirt underneath can work, and even a dark grey may look sharp. Other coloured dress shirts, like blue and pink, will be overpowered by the black suit and can look tacky.

5. Choose the right neckwear

Neckwear choice is crucial. We generally don’t suggest wearing a black tie with a black suit, lest you end up looking like the Maître D’.

Solid ties in general can look stuffy, so go with something with a micro pattern to keep your look youthful. 

Choose a silk necktie with a bit of a sheen, rather than something matte or knit, which is too casual. Purples and plums are great, as well as grey and silver, which look elegant with a black suit. 

Use a four-in-hand knot, which in our opinion, is the only knot you should ever wear. 

6. Try a playful pocket square

You can never go wrong with a white or black pocket square, but if you want to get creative, this is where you can do it, so long as the mood of the event allows for it. Play around with colours and patterns to inject a hint of personality into your look. 

7. Wear black or grey shoes

The darker and more simple a shoe is, the more formal it is. A sleek black shoe is great, but you can sub in a dark grey wingtip for just about any event. Avoid wearing brown shoes with a black suit.  

8. Try wearing it with an open collar

An open collared white dress shirt is a little more easygoing, but still super sharp. It’s a choice that lets people know this isn’t your first time wearing a black suit. 

Be sure to undo the top two buttons, not just one. With only one button undone, it can look like you just got uncomfortable and decided to take your tie off part way through the night. Two buttons looks intentional, not to mention more contemporary. 

9. Don’t wear it to the office

A black suit is too formal for most workplaces. This rule goes for interviews as well. Stick with grey or navy, and leave the black suit for weddings and galas. 

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Just because a black suit shouldn’t be the first thing you buy doesn’t mean you should ignore it. It’s crisp, it’s classic, and it will always have a place in men’s style.  


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