Here Come the Men in Black: A Man’s Guide to Wearing All Black

Posted May 2, 2019 by in Fashion

While men’s fashion already tends to stick to a fairly limited color palette, market figures indicate that black clothing makes up for over 35 percent of menswear sales.

Black is a great base color for staples like coats and pants. And black and white outfits for men are a popular choice for formal events and casual looks alike. But what about pairing black with more black? 

Get it right and wearing all black can evoke European off-duty chic or edgy streetwear cool. But get it wrong and you could end up looking like the emo kid you thought you’d left behind in 2005. 

Make sure your all-black looks are always sleek and stylish with this guide to wearing black. 

Mix Your Textures

There’s something about the color black. It adds an instant hint of cool like no other color can. And, while top-to-toe outfits in almost any other hue would be plain weird, an all-black outfit will always be in fashion. 

The beauty of black is that there’s no chance of clashing. But go too similar with your fabrics and your look can come off a little flat. This is why it pays to consider texture when putting together all-black outfit ideas.

For fall and winter, that means pulling on chunky chenille sweaters, cotton hoodies, and a wool overcoat over a basic black ensemble. Less-common fabrics like suede, velvet, and corduroy offer further ways to play with texture to create added interest. 

A black leather jacket is a no-brainer for a range of all-black looks. Plus, black leather is always cool so you’re guaranteed to get great cost-per-wear from your jacket, even if you opt for a pricier version. 

In summer, an all-black look can be trickier as you’ll have fewer items to work with. Plus, black outfits can mean that you’re more likely to overheat.

But the good news is that you don’t have to stray too far from your trusted summer formula of a t-shirt and jeans. Just make sure to keep your t-shirts as loose and light as possible. Linen blends and cotton t-shirts will help you keep your cool. And the texture contrast of slim-cut black denim jeans helps break up your look. 

Or, there’s always the option of black denim knee-length shorts, or loose black cotton shorts with a black linen shirt, or loose cotton tank top. It’s not a look that screams summer, but it has that hint of understated European cool that bright Bermudas and Hawaiian shirts will never have.  

Don’t Forget the Fit

Putting together a look revolving around one color also means that you’ll need to pay closer attention to the way your clothes fit.

Well-chosen black pieces that fit well and flatter your shape will ensure that you feel comfortable and look great. You might need to splash out on more expensive pieces to get a better fit. But this should also help guarantee that your sharp black garments won’t fade or lose their shape after a couple of washes.  

Plus, considering alternative cuts and shapes can add creativity to your outfit. That could mean opting for baggy sweatshirts, long-line sweaters, and t-shirts with a range of necklines and fits. For outerwear, you could select a jacket in a boxier cut, a coat with an oversized fit, or an ankle-length overcoat. 

You also might want to mix up the cut and length of your pants by going for cropped styles, wide-leg pants, or extra-skinny jeans.  

Since you won’t have to think about color, you can focus more on experimentation with lengths and fits. As a result, your monochrome looks will feel purposeful and stylish rather than lazy and thrown together. 

Layer It Up

Sticking to an all-black color palette for your outfit also lends itself to layering. This is especially true during the colder months of the year when you can really make your choice of distinct textures work for you. 

Opting for boxier jackets and oversize coats means that you’ll have more scope for combining a range of basic elements underneath your outerwear. Plus, there are more opportunities for accessorizing with scarves and hats to add new dimensions to your monochrome look. 

Layering also gives you a chance to mix formal or classic pieces with streetwear and casual items for an original look that shows a degree of planning has gone into your ensemble.   

Think black cotton hoodies or loose t-shirts paired with a black wool pea coat or a relaxed suit jacket. Likewise, you could layer a leather biker jacket over a casual t-shirt and then top off your look with a black wool blend trench.

Or, how about a black tweed vest worn open over a black t-shirt or loose cotton shirt? When it comes to black on black, the possibilities are endless! To be even more on-trend, give A Bathing Ape clothing a try—A Bathing Ape, or BAPE, is a premium streetwear brand from Japan founded by influential designer and cultural icon NIGO.

Go Formal

As well as being a cool choice for casual outfits, black is a staple for more formal occasions. 

Black dress outfits that combine a suit, shirt and tie all in the same shade are sure to make you stand out and look stylish at your next big social event. It can even be a possible option for the office, depending on the sector you work in. 

But, with no distractions from a contrasting pocket square or a crisp white shirt, it’s even more vital that your suit fits like a glove. And, you’ll also need to pay closer attention to what fabrics you choose. Get these crucial aspects wrong and you could end up looking more like nightclub security than the suave James Bond type you were hoping for. 

Keep your suit simple with clean lines and understated lapels on a single-breasted jacket. This look won’t date and will be easy to adapt to different occasions. Fabric-wise, a suit in light mohair wool provides a subtle sheen while ensuring you won’t overheat. 

Wearing a black shirt under a black best waxed jackets can be tricky as there won’t be much distinction between the two items.  The best way to pull off this look is to opt for a crisp cotton matte shirt to offer a contrast to the light sheen of the jacket. 

For black tie events, patent leather Oxfords should be your shoe of choice. But, if you’re going for more business-casual, black leather or suede Oxfords, loafers, or brogues are ideal. 

Consider Contrasting Details

While you’re busy adding layers, small hints of contrasting color details can be a good way to set your look apart. 

Okay, we admit, considering that this guide is about wearing all-black outfits, this might feel like cheating. But one of the top skills of mastering the art of all-black dressing is knowing when to add a hint of contrast to your black outfits. 

Step forward Rami Malek to show us how it’s done. Making an appearance at the Valentino couture show in Paris, Malek donned a slick black outfit but upgraded his look with one stylish addition – a monochrome print shirt. Tucked into his sweater and hardly visible, it was enough to show that he’d put some thought into his black ensemble, and it paid off. 

The trick is to avoid playing it too clever. For women, pairing black with pops of color like a bright red lip or a pair of turquoise heels is always a winner. But, well, the same rules don’t apply for men. Leave your bright hues at home and stick to mixing in hints of subtle tones like burgundy, cream, navy, and grey instead.  

Opt for black men’s shirts with details like a paisley trim cuff, or layer a black plaid shirt under a black sweater. Another way to lift a black look is to go for items with a black base that add interest with details like a hint of piping, exposed zippers, or contrasting buttons. 

You can also set your look apart with subtle details on your footwear and accessories. For example, you could go for black shoes with contrast stitching or black sneakers with mesh panels. Or, add a flash of metal with a simple silver chain or bold watch to break up your black outfits. 

Your Guide to Wearing All Black

With any conundrums about color clashing out of the equation, you might think that wearing all black is simple. 

But, as these all-black outfit ideas show, creating a look that makes up for in style what it lacks in color can take a little more thought when it comes to aspects such as the fit and fabric. 

Just be careful not to let black take over your wardrobe as it might start to feel more like a uniform than an expression of style. For some fresh sartorial inspiration, check out this list of the latest trends in men’s fashion.