Black Suits for Men: Should You Wear Them? Smarter Outfit Options

Black Suits for Men: Should You Wear Them? Smarter Outfit Options

Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette!
In today’s video, we’ll discuss whether or not that most ubiquitous of business
outfits, the black suit, is actually a stylish look or not. In the world of
men’s suits, which is to say ensembles with jackets and trousers, as well as
optional waistcoats which are all made from the same materials, there are an
almost unlimited number of colors available to say nothing of patterns and
textures. As a general rule though, brighter and bolder colors are seen as
less formal whereas various shades of gray, blue, and
sometimes brown are seen as more formal and therefore, business appropriate. on
that topic you can find our video on how to pair shirts and ties with grey suits
here as well as our video on the first five suits we believe a man should own
here. Aside from gray, blue, and brown then, there is one other color that’s fairly
widely seen in suiting and that’s black. While a black suit would certainly
be more conservative than something in a flashy color like electric pink, for
instance, today’s video is going to tackle the question of wearing a black
suit is something you should do as often as many men try to. Now, if you’re a
longtime viewer of the channel, you may already be forming an idea of what our
opinion is on this topic. After all, we’ve previously done a video on why we
believe black is the most overrated color in menswear and you can find
that video here. However, we believe there’s more to say on the topic of
black suits specifically, so that’s what we’ll cover in today’s video. Before we
get to the main question of whether or not we think you should wear a black
suit though, let’s preface it with this question, why
is it that black suits are so widely seen today? The answer has a lot to do
with the fact that the typical dress of the general populace around the world,
especially in the United States, is largely dictated today by what famous
and other notable people are wearing, be they
celebrities, politicians, or people in similar fields. And to focus in on men,
what do we see these famous individuals wearing? We see them wearing black
ensembles at award shows, black ensembles in music videos, black
ensembles at political debates and other state functions. In short, the color black
is everywhere. With that said though, the presence of black ensembles in these
various situations can ultimately be, divided into three camps; appropriately
formal, high fashion, or ultimately misguided. To go over these cases in
order then, we’ll start with the question of formality. When we see men wearing
black ensembles at awards ceremonies and other similar functions, they aren’t
wearing or at least shouldn’t be wearing conventional black business suits rather
they’re adhering to historical dress codes where the formality of black is
appropriate. These, of course, would be black tie or tuxedos, white tie or tail
coat ensembles, or formal day wear or morning dress featuring cutaway coats.
By the way if you’d like to learn more about any of these most formal of men’s
dress codes you can check out the comprehensive guides to each of them we
have on our website here. In these kinds of formal situations, a black business
suit wouldn’t be formal enough in its details and styling and would therefore
be an ill-advised choice to wear. Next, the case of high fashion. Of course, black
is the bedrock of the fashion world for both men and women. You don’t really need
to look any further than the little black dresses that women wear to award
ceremonies, or in movies, and on runways and so forth. And for men, there are all
kinds of black garments as well like black turtleneck sweaters, black leather
jackets, and black suits. As an example, famous designers like Tom Ford and Karl
Lagerfeld have made black suits their signature ensemble over the years as a
way to look stark and chic but there’s an important distinction to be made here
too and it can actually best be summed up in
famous words from another designer Yves Saint Laurent. He said “fashion fades,
style is eternal.” What we mean by that is this, if you’d like to look hip, trendy, on
point and so on, there’s nothing wrong with you wearing an ultra skinny fit
black suit, white shirt, and black necktie. More power to you if you’d like to do it!
But on the whole, black suits and especially monochromatic all black looks
don’t have a place in the traditional style canon of the early 20th century
which, of course, is our focus here at the Gentleman’s Gazette. Phrased another way,
black suits, black shirts, and so on, undeniably have a place in modern
fashion but they’re harder to implement well in a classic gentleman’s wardrobe.
Finally here, we touch on the case of individuals who are probably simply just
misguided. The main culprits in this camp are politicians. Now, I know what you’re
thinking but hold any specific political beliefs because that’s not what we’re
talking about here. When we say misguided. Rather what we mean is that most
politicians from various political parties all across the Western world but
again, particularly in America, have adopted the black business suit as a
sort of default uniform over the last 30 years or so. Why is it that they’ve done
this? Probably, it’s an effort to look as serious and businesslike as possible and
in reality, while a black suit certainly is serious, it’s not all that appropriate
for most business settings and so it ultimately looks somewhat out of place.
If we look back further though to presidents and other political figures
of the early to mid 20th century, we’ll see that they weren’t afraid to wear
suits in various different shades of blue, gray, brown, and other colors. As a
notable example here, we can look at President Harry Truman who, believe it or
not, was actually once a haberdasher before he eventually ascended to the
Oval Office. So to sum up these points, the reason
that black suits are so ubiquitous in society today is largely as a result of
various adjacent figures coming together on society as a whole. With that in mind
then, we reach our main question for today, should you wear a black suit? Our
answer, in a nutshell, is not often. As we laid out above, there are better choices
for most scenarios. Firstly, formal events should be given their proper due with
adherence to formal daywear or black and white tie. On that note, you can find
our recent series on the differences between suits and tuxedos as well as
appropriate situations for black tie and white tie here. Meanwhile, more
politicians should feel free and confident enough to shun the confines of
the black suit uniform and while high fashion can have its own trends, we
believe that classic menswear follows a different set of guidelines. Setting
aside all of the points we’ve laid out so far today, there is one other major
reason why we believe most men shouldn’t wear black suits often and that comes
down to a matter of contrast. While it is true that the stark contrast of a black
suit, white shirt, and black necktie can have a flattering effect on the
silhouette of many men, it’s also true that there’s a downside to this. In that
that stark contrast between the black and white can also wash out the
complexion of many fair skinned or fair haired men. This, of course, is especially
true when out and about during the day and in direct sunlight. Of course, men who
have darker complexions or darker hair could probably get away with wearing a
black suit more easily but the fact of the matter remains that for a large
amount of men, black suits in the daytime are just going to wash you out. This
could perhaps be mitigated to some extent by livening up the black suit with
colorful accessories or maybe even a pastel colored dress shirt but still,
black will wash out your complexion if you wear it during the
day. Meanwhile, conventional black evening wear circumvents this issue by
virtue of its being worn out of direct sunlight in the evening and nighttime
and also, ideally, out of harsh fluorescent light as well. With that said,
you can take a look at our video on finding the best colors for your
skintone here.So there’s our list of reasons why we think most men shouldn’t
wear a black suit often. With all of that said though, here’s a brief list of some
situations where black suits would indeed be appropriate.The first
situation, as you may have guessed, would be funerals. Black has a historical
association with mourning and while formal daywear or evening wear would
probably be seen as too celebratory in tone, a black business suit can strike
the right somber tone that would be appropriate for a funeral. if you’d like
to learn more you can find our video on funeral etiquette here.
The second scenario here would be musical concerts. While the world of
classical music does have an association with white tie and black tie that’s
still ongoing today, a more contemporary and popular alternative to these dress
codes has been the rise of the so-called concert black dress code. The objective
here is that the musical ensemble look as uniform and consistent as possible so
that what the audience will focus on will be the music itself. And our third
and final scenario here is in situations relating to religion. Worship leaders
such as priests and pastors will often wear black suits as will adherence to
certain sects of religious tradition like Hasidic Jews or the Amish. Those are
the three key situations where a black suit could be worn with a relative
degree of style. To relate these points on a personal level, the black suit I’m
wearing in today’s video was purchased just earlier this year. I bought it so
that I could participate in a choral concert where the dress code was
indeed concert black and also to attend a funeral around the same time. Finally,
today if you’ve gotten this far into the video and decided that you’re still set
on wearing a black suit, here are our tips for how you can do it well. First
and foremost and as we’ve said countless times before
in the channel, fit is everything. and while we’re usually big fans of a
classic, more full cut silhouette, still in relation to your overall body type
our videos on how a suit should fit which you can find here are perfect
examples of this. We do believe that a slightly trimmer cut in a more modern
style, though not ultra skinny, will help you to wear a black suit during the
daytime without it looking like it’s swallowing you up. Just make sure that
all of your bases are covered in that your shoulders, chest, and midsection are
well fitted and that your trousers aren’t baggy or puddling around your
ankles. Our next tip here is to try to incorporate a bit of color into your
outfit. As we mentioned earlier, the black suit, white shirt, black tie look is one
that’s only going to flatter a very small fraction of men. Therefore, wearing
a shirt, tie, or other accessories that add a bit of color to liven up the
outfit will take some of the somber tone out of the black suit. by the way if
you’d like to learn how to use the color wheel to assemble better outfits you can
take a look at our video on that subject here. Our third tip would be to stay
clear of shiny fabric finishes. Nothing is going to make you look more like a
teenager wearing his first suit than an all-black ensemble in a cheap shiny
finish. Suits with a more matte finish are going to look more refined and you
should try to opt for wool or wool blends rather than synthetics. Also, a
slightly textured weave will help to give the black suit a bit more character.
On a related note, patterned black suits can look more lively than solids; you
should avoid bold stripes unless you want to look like a Mafia Don at halloween
but something like a pinstripe or wide check pattern could look good if it were
subtle. on that note you can find our guides to stripes in menswear here and
just keep in mind that if you are wearing a black suit with a pattern, it
should be done confidently. Which brings us to our final tip today which is that
a black suit should always be worn with confidence and cool. We laid out numerous
reasons today why a black suit shouldn’t be your first choice very often. A navy
or charcoal colored suit would be much more versatile and indeed more elegant
in many situations. Therefore, wearing a black suit in spite
of all this knowledge requires the confidence to say “I know the rules well
enough to flout them. As with any ensemble, you want to have the effect
that you’re wearing it rather than having it wear you. To sum everything up
then, while there are certain situations where a black suit would be appropriate,
we don’t believe that it should be the primary suit in any gentleman’s wardrobe.
Here’s one more reminder today to take a look at our video on why we think black
in menswear is so overrated and also to take a look at our ongoing playlist
in the should you wear series here which covers various other questions on men’s
wear topics. it should be obvious that I’m wearing a black suit in today’s
video just to illustrate some of the principles that we outlined as I
mentioned previously I purchased it not too long ago to wear for both a concert
and the funeral situations where a black suit can be appropriate I’ve paired it
today with the conventional white dress shirt although a shirt in a different
light pastel color like lilac or pink might also have worked to harmonize well
with my accessories speaking of the accessories we’ll start with my bowtie
which is a lavender colored madder silk with a micro pattern from Fort Belvedere
my linen pocket square also from Fort Belvedere is in a color we’re calling
orchid and it has light green stitching and embroidery as a bit of contrast and
my boutonnière is a hydrangea which remains
in the same pink and lavender color family all of these three accessories
work to provide some pops of bright color to the outfit to tone down the
somberness of the black suit my final Fort Belvedere accessory today are my
cufflinks which are platinum plated sterling silver in a monkey’s fist knot
design grounding the outfit are my socks which are also plain black and my shoes
which are plain black cap toed derbys this black ensemble isn’t one that I’d wear
often but using the tips we outlined today I think it works well enough

100 Replies to “Black Suits for Men: Should You Wear Them? Smarter Outfit Options”

  1. I currently have a very well fitting navy suit from banana republic and I’m looking to get another what color would be good for my next suit? Grey? Charcoal?

  2. Could you make a video on how to roll up shirt sleeves and in what situations it is acceptable to do so? It would be much appreciated.

  3. Black suites, meh. Though you do point out the correct occasions where they either work or may be expected. As for added color, I'm not a big fan of boutonnieres. However a gold watch chain works well, though this requires a waistcoat. And for those not afraid of being a bit daring, either light gray or white spats.

  4. Men can wear black suits, but they don't have to. If men wear black suits, then definitely only for formal occasions or if a man wants to look like the actor from the movie "Hitman".

  5. "Concert black" which applies to everyone except Andre Rieu's orchestra. But he's focused on being fun, which I appreciate.

  6. All those politicians look like they are wearing blue suits. I see blue as the main business suit. Except for John Wick.

  7. Is the black suit ever a “business suit?” It’s appropriate for funerals and some evening events that are not black tie.

  8. Please consider making a video on how a gentleman would or should (in your discretion) dress for a night out in a club. I am interested in your thoughts on this topic. Wearing a suit and neck tie would be considered as too stiff by most people under 30 in a typical club environment. How would you dress up in this situation without being perceived as too stiff but yet better dressed than most men in that club? What could be possible outfits?

  9. As usual, a very good presentation. A personal note: I've never been a fan of black suits. I do own one, but because it has a very fine pinstripe, I bought it anyway. It sets off the red guitar in my avatar nicely.

  10. I just bought a made-to-measure black suit because I thought it was cool I wish I had seen this video a couple of months ago. My game at work is already over the top… help! Great video Preston.

  11. So basically white folks shouldnt wear black suits but black folks can haha although this channel never mentions or displays anyone not white.

  12. I think it comes down to the fact that if you are going with black you might as well go all the way and wear full on black or white tie.

  13. I live in Japan and you need a black suit for weddings and funerals, the only thing that changes is the colour of the tie. White for weddings. Black for funerals

  14. I have a black suit and dark charcoal suit. Very subtle differences.

    I need to get a navy and mid charcoal suits.

  15. I'm a musician too and thankfully don't get asked to wear blacks that often. I hate it; it reeks of the classical and musical theatre world and that's not my scene. Having said that… I don't understand the Gentleman's Gazette's relentless crusade against black suits. Most of the advice here is VERY solid, but there are so many situations where you could wear a sharp, tailored black suit, white shirt, black tie combo and look dressed well above about 90% of the people you're likely to be around, and I don't understand discouraging people from trying it. I would say that wouldn't be a bad look for going to an opera, symphony, film screening/opening, theatre, ballet, or any other event where maybe in the past people used to wear tuxedos but doing so now would mark you as either a precious dandy or a pretentious twit. I personally don't like black suits with anything but a white shirt, black tie, and plain white folded pocket square, so I don't think purple/black go to together, but this is a matter of taste, I suppose.

  16. USA politicians does a good job with suits imo. Everyone has a suit and next to no one uses black.
    Look at the pictures you provided, mostly navy and grey.

  17. Those politicians in the photos are all wearing navy suits, not black!! Real navy only looks blue under very bright light, otherwise it appears black.
    It seems that no one is actually wearing black suits anymore, unless they want to make a style statement a la Tom Ford.
    But please, even on the photos you provided it's clear that those suits are navy (or, in some cases, charcoal), and not black.

  18. Non of those politicians are wearing black it's just navy, black suits are pretty much never seen in politics(too aggressive) or on the streets(navy is ubiquitous), its one of the great myths people who are so into menswear are obsessed with, I think it all comes from snobbery imo they want to think they're in the know of some special secret.
    In reality the people who study color and fashion in general are far better qualified to talk about what looks good on people and that's often black, like for christ sake black tie is black for a reason a staple of menswear.

  19. Black is not a color and black has style, so it is "eternal". Black suits a gentleman pervekt, because nobody should concentrate on the person but on "the music itself" or the woman next to you.

  20. In general day-to-day wear, one would not see a black lounge or business suit being worn in Britain.

    It is a rare sight in England and scarcer in Scotland.

  21. When there is some code, then we can talk about right or wrong, otherwise your faith and perception is tricking you to compensate insecurity with right clothes, sometimes we even don't see coolness in other cultures, because we perceive them to be wrong. Best remedy is to wear something you despise and you may discover that there is energy and life in everything. When you find your style you lose it, when you lose style you find it.

  22. Question, color of jackets or coats to wear with certain tuxedos? Example: I have a grey felt coat and I am wanting to wear it with a blue tuxedo, would that work?

  23. You look very good in your black suit. My suits are either plain black, or plain navy blue – I'd never wear a black shirt, not wanting to look like Mussolini, and wear black ties only for funerals. I think the trend to black is much less pronounced in Britain than it is in the USA; it's certainly not a ubiquitous look here; I'd probably wear a different colour if it were. And I haven't the figure for this more streamlined look of which you speak – pushing on to my 70th year, I want comfort, and that means sufficient cloth in my clothing …. I don't think I look 'washed out', or a prisoner of the colour. I am a devotee of black suits, therefore, and much though I revere the Gentleman's Gazette, I anticipate that I shall continue to be.

  24. Video Suggestion: how to reply to compliments.
    I constantly get compliments of all sorts, and sadly, also constantly I see myself not knowing how to… "give back" the same kind gesture, so usually I just idk… smile back or give a short happy comment – this moment, for me, is frequently "asking for something else"…


  25. I dont care what people are saying about black suits. I like them, I will continue to wear them, even if they will go out of style.

  26. When I wear a black suit I like to wear a black shirt and a plain red tie or a red shirt and a plain black tie. Looking like the devil has worked for me many times in business.

  27. It really depends on whether or not the individual can pull it off. I don't own a black suit myself but you have to admit Tom Ford does look sharp in his.

  28. It seems to me that black suits and extremely dark navy peaked about three or four years ago, but lately I have seen a bit of brighter options being worn by politicians and TV personalities. I am glad we are getting out of the black suit era.

  29. I wore a black suit in my wedding. Now I really only wear it when I take the wife out for a night at the theater to catch the ballet.

  30. Being a classical musician, I'm stuck with concert black and tuxedos for performances and casual academic styles for other purposes.

  31. i too think black is overrated. not only in menswear, but with ladies clothing as well. ppl just default towards black, probably cos it's dark and makes them appear slimmer and suits most ppl. but overdoing it undermines the power of black in my opinion (for instance, i find tom ford very avg and don't take the time to admire his outfit because i have already done that, now it's boring). defaulting to black also hinders ppl from putting tgt well thought out outfits with different colours.

  32. You totally ignored or were unaware of the main American business rule about black suits. The Boss wears black, you don't. Ever. (unless it's formal or a funeral). Black is the power color reserved for the man or woman who runs the company. Any middle manager wearing black is flashing a threat to their superiors. This is dead serious 20th century business knowledge. In more rigid companies, you might have gotten reprimanded or even fired for such a thing. That's why in the Go Go 80s & early 90s politicians turned to black suits, to appear more boss-like and dominant. Black is the power color. This info was very common in 1980s dress for success books.

  33. Working in the security field black suits are pretty much mandatory. It would be interesting to watch a video about that. 🙂

  34. Woah

    If the FBI is knocking on your door in navy suits they may be confused for businessmen or proselytizing evangelists.

  35. Yesterday, I saw a man wearing a brown belt with black shoes. Also, he was wearing an ill fitting jacket. I nearly died as he was strutting up the road. Also, I dislike people who wear All Star high top trainers/sneakers with suits.

  36. Her guys!
    I am a big fan of your videos.
    I have a question. Should I use shoes trees for my new shoes or should I let them mould to my foot first?
    Thank you guys!
    I would aprreciate it if you answered it.

  37. Black is a good color for outfits with jeans and leather jackets, less for suits.

    The politicians wear black suits because they are satanists^^

  38. Men of taste and breeding wear a black suit only under compulsion. They also reject the notion that there are no absolutes in style and taste. In other words, they reject today’s dictatorship of relativism. By the way, the politicians shown here are most likely wearing dark blue suits.

  39. Many politicians don't wear black suits really that often, Presidents Trump and Macron usually wear dark or navy blue… but Putin and Xi Jinping seems to strongly favor black. Today as the G7 all the leaders are in blue suits, Macron and Trump’s look black in some photos but in others they are clearly dark blue.

  40. Is there ever a situation where one would wear a double breasted suit coat with a vest or waist coat? Because I saw this the other day. The guy must have had a custom job done cause the lining on the vest matched the lining on the suit jacket and he was walking around with the coat buttoned most of the time.

  41. I think it's also because a lot of cheap manufacturers set dark suits and dark shirts as the standard; thus, when someone goes to get a cheap suit, they end up coming back with a black suit, a satin tie, and a shirt in a bold and odd color. The outfit is entirely fictional — it never has existed in real-life menswear. Compare old yearbook photos to new ones: you may see charcoal and brown in the old and black in the new. One looks like 'business,' while the other looks like 'prom.'

  42. Good job, Preston. I know black isn't the preferred color of GG, but either you wear black or you don't. The purple splodges are just misplaced. It almost looks like an apology for wearing black… As you said; it should be worn with confidence.

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