Today, we’ll discuss the color black in men’s wear and why it’s so overrated.
We’ll discuss suits, t-shirts, accessories, when you should wear black, when you shouldn’t wear black, why it’s so popular, and anything else you want to know about this omnipresent color.
Why Is Black Popular And Why Many People Wear It?
First of all, black is a very practical color. It’s very resistant to stains in a sense that often times, you can’t see the stain when you stain it.
Sometimes people also claim, black makes you look slimmer although there doesn’t seem to be any scientific purpose for that. Now, if you just think about it, if a dark color makes you look slimmer, let’s say a charcoal color would serve the exact same purpose, yet charcoal is not as popular as black.
Black is widely available and unlike other colors, it’s a very simple shade that is very consistent. For that reason, people sometimes think they can combine different items in black that are not made from the same fabric. However, the weave is different, the materials are different, and when the light comes onto the black color and reflects into your eye, it’s reflected differently. And so black can look hugely different once they’re worn next to each other even though both look black individually.
For that reason, I find black to be supremely boring because it’s just one simple shade and in my opinion, it’s a color for people who are a bit insecure about their outfit and what they want to express.
Black has its purpose. It has its time and its place but today we just see it a lot, especially in regular day wear and that’s simply historically not quite appropriate.
When Should You Wear Black?
It is also great for formal day wear such as a morning coat. I wear it with a stroller suit and peaked lapels as a jacket. Then I also use black in trousers however not as a solid but as a cashmere stripe pair of trousers which means there is gray and black mixed together. Overall, it’s always good to wear black when you mix it with something else so the overall appearance is not black but maybe gray.
For example, look at the tie Silver Black Silk Basketweave Formal Wedding and Business Tie. It incorporates black but since it has another silver thread, it even works well with a navy suit. Normally black and navy clash but not if you mix it in a way that it looks great in black. The same is true for any other tie that combines these colors in any way, shape or form.
So do wear black when it’s mixed. That’s true for accessories, that’s true for a Houndstooth suit or a Glen Check Suit. But black in its own way, when it’s all black is better suited to evening wear, and formal day wear.
Black is also great for priests and for funerals. That being said, you can show up to a funeral in a very dark suit such as a charcoal suit or maybe a navy suit.
If you go back around 20 years, you see lots of black and white pictures and drawings and sometimes it seems that they’re all wearing black but in fact, there were mostly wearing dark shades of charcoal and not the uniform solid black that we’re so accustomed to today.
Luckily, you have plenty of other options today other than black. As I mentioned, charcoal, gray, mid-gray, you can have patterns that incorporate black and white or black and gray and of course, you have brighter colors, you have browns and greens. All of these come in different shades so you have an even greater range of colors that can highlight your uniqueness and your individuality.
Why Is Black Bad If Many People Wear It?
If you go 600 years back, a lot of people thought that the Earth was flat and not round and it was a common assumption. So just because a lot of people wear black today, doesn’t mean it’s the way they look best or it should be.
One of the big drawbacks of black is that it ages extremely poorly. If you have a black t-shirt for example, and you wash it five times, it gets that gray fuzz and it’s washed-out and it looks very aged, very prematurely. Basically, the color fades and you can also see deodorant stains which are lighter in color so a black t-shirt looks old much more quickly than a gray t-shirt or a white t-shirt. Black is also not ideal because it absorbs a lot of energy of light so you easily overheat, especially during the summer.
Black is also not so easily combined with other shades of gray and especially not with navy. If you have a black jacket and navy pants, it just looks terrible. It’s too close in color but not quite the same and therefore it’s just off. The same is true when you wear a black jacket and black pair of pants made of a different material, it just looks wrong.
On the other hand, if you had a charcoal suit, you can easily combine it with a navy tie because it works together much better. It gives you a greater range of combination and it’s similarly dark. So charcoal is the better black. Whenever you think about getting a black suit or a black jacket, go with charcoal and you’ll be much happier.
Now, that being said, if you have a black tie or a white tie outfit, the stark contrast between the black and white is very pleasing, at the same time it’s very formal and not very casual. In a very casual world today, wearing black and white during the day is just too strong of a statement and it’s much better reserved for evening wear.
Black Don’ts That Looks Disadvantageous
1. Do Not Wear Black Dress Shirts
If you care about your clothes, don’t wear black dress shirts. I see men do it all of the time, even at the Oscars. They have a black dress shirt with a black tie and a black jacket. It’s a monochromic look, you can’t see any contrast. It just looks horrible.
Also, black shirts look really bad with ties because generally, a combination looks much better when the tie is slightly darker than your shirt, not lighter. There are a few exceptions when you have a like a white tie and it can work with a light blue shirt for example. But overall, it’s much easier to put together an outfit if a tie or your bow tie is darker than your shirt. Now if you have black, there’s no way your tie is lighter in color.
Okay, I admit it, when I started getting interested in clothing, I had a black shirt as well. It was a hand-me-down, I got it from someone. It had two chest pockets and honestly, it looked terrible. It even had short sleeves but I liked it. I wore it with a white pair of pants and a Panama hat and black rubber soled shoes.
2. Wearing Black Day Wear Suits, Pants Or Jackets
As I said, great for evening wear, great for tuxedos. You can even wear your pants with a separate dinner jacket in a different color, it’s all great. But for day wear, most men assume that a black suit is the first thing they should buy because it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Department stores are full of black suits. They are cheap, the fabrics are often times less expensive to produce and re-manufacture. And so, it is so much easier for them to just produce a black suit because there a lot of people who are ignorant who end up buying them.
The only thing worse than a black suit is having just a singular black jacket because that has a sports coat character and a sports coat is always less formal and more casual. So wearing a black jacket with let’s say a denim pair of pants is probably one of the biggest style mistakes out there you can make.
If you live in a casual environment, throw all the black stuff, donate it and get something in different colors especially a sport coat with a slight pattern maybe in brown, maybe in green, maybe in blue, maybe even in gray.
3. Do Not Wear Black T-shirts
For most people, if they wear it underneath the dress shirt, they just look bad because you can see the contours of the shirt and the color and it just looks odd. If you work out, you can see sweat stains more easily, also deodorant stains. They quickly turn gray and get that fuzz that is ugly and overall, you should always get an undershirt that’s much closer to your color and skin tone. So if you’re really black or really dark, try to go with something that is either dark gray or dark brown, they just look better and you won’t see the lines even if you have a white dress shirt on top of it.
Black Dress Shoes And Black Accessories
I give it to you, they’re the most popular items around because they’re easy to produce and there is such a huge demand.
If you go back in history, an elegant man would never wear black dress gloves because it would show that they lack style and taste. Instead, they would wear gray gloves or chamois yellow gloves or red gloves or brown gloves but never black.
For shoes, black is a great option if you work in a white-collar office environment and it’s formal. I have a few pairs of black shoes I wear them for evening wear, I wear them to funerals, I wear them to business events or any other event where a certain degree of formality is required. Otherwise, I stick to brown because there are lots more shades.
What About Black Sneakers?
If you think about it, black is always more formal. Sneakers by definition are informal. So having a black sneaker is kind of a clash of formality levels and hence, I don’t advise to do that. There are so many other colors in sneakers gray, blue, yellow, green, red, and even pink. So you’ll find something that you like but try to stay clear of black.
Basically the only time you’ll see me wearing black during the day is when it’s mixed up with other colors so the overall impression is not black. Wearing black less or less often is definitely one of those things that you’ll notice will change about you once you get more interested in dressing up and other people will notice it too.
If you know our channel, you’ll probably realize that I don’t promise a lot of things but I’ll promise you if you wear less black, you’ll be happier with your wardrobe altogether and you’ll get more interested and you’ll get more compliments as a result.