A black suit is an interesting garment.
While I'd never advise a man to wear a black suit to the office every day, there are certainly times when it's an essential garment within a man's closet.
Today, I'm breaking out everything you need to know about wearing a black suit – from when to wear one to when to avoid one, and what you can pair with a black suit to make it more or less formal.
We'll be covering:
- Is A Black Suit Only For Funerals?
- How To Style A Black Suit At The Office
- How To Style A Black Suit At A Funeral
- How To Style A Black Suit At A Winter Wedding
- What Shirts and Ties Best Match A Black Suit?
- When Should You Avoid Wearing A Black Suit?
Is A Black Suit Only For Funerals?
A black suit is best known for one particular event: funerals. After all, black is the color of mourning – and most men will have a suit in their closet specifically purchased for this purpose.
But when did this tradition originate? Black has been associated with death and mourning for centuries.
In fact, the black suit as we know it today originated in the Victorian era – when Queen Victoria popularized the all-black ensemble as a way to mourn her husband's passing. Historians also trace the color black back to Roman-era funerals, where family members of the deceased would wear a black toga to signify their grieving status.
However, grieving aside, a black suit is incredibly versatile. It can be dressed up or down and, because black goes with almost everything, it's easy to find complementary shirts, ties, and accessories.
Not sure how to style a black suit? Keep reading for some tips!
How To Style A Black Suit At The Office
If you work in a traditional office, it's likely that you'll be expected to wear a suit on a daily basis. And if you're the sort of guy that wants to look like the boss, then there's no better option than a black suit. It conveys authority and seriousness – perfect for nailing that big presentation or impressing your superiors in a meeting.
To style a black suit at the office, keep it simple. Pair it with a white shirt and a solid-color tie. While most colors should match black, I always think that a dark red tie looks great with a crisp white shirt and black suit. It's a classic combination that oozes sophistication and style.
Depending on the type of office you work in, you may. be able to switch this up a bit and wear a shirt and tie combo that's a bit more ‘out there'. For example, a black suit with a lavender shirt and mauve striped tie can be a great combo in offices where a strict conservatism is on the table.
How To Style A Black Suit For A Funeral
As we mentioned before, black is the traditional color of mourning. And while the origins of this tradition are somewhat murky, there's no denying that black suits are still seen as being the most appropriate clothing choice for funerals today.
When styling a black suit for a funeral, the key is to look as respectful and understated as possible. A funeral is not the time to make a statement – you are attending to pay your respects, not show off your latest tie purchase. As such, I would recommend sticking to a simple black suit, white shirt, and black tie combo.
How To Style A Black Suit For A Winter Wedding
While black suits are often seen as being too dark for weddings, I think they can actually be the perfect choice for a winter wedding.
The key is in the styling – you'll want to avoid looking like you're attending a funeral (see above), but still look stylish and appropriate. After all, a wedding is all about love and happiness, so you'll want your clothing to reflect that.
To style a black suit for a winter wedding, I would recommend pairing it with a white shirt and a warm-colored tie. A black suit with a dark red or green tie can look great – just make sure to avoid anything too flashy. While a wedding is a great opportunity to look your best, you should never try and take attention from the bride or groom! So keep it simple and classy.
What Shirts and Ties Best Match A Black Suit?
As we mentioned before, black goes with almost everything. That means you have a lot of options when it comes to pairing shirts and ties with your black suit.
In general, I would avoid any colors that are too bright and in your face. A black suit is a refined garment – so bright primary colors can be a bit too much of a contrast.
As such, I would advise sticking to shirts that are light and pastel-colored, such as:
- Light Blue
- Powder Pink
If you opt for anything brighter or darker than these colors, you could end up either creating too much contrast or too much shadow in your outfit. Black is a very strong color, so complimenting it with softer, powdery tones is the way to go.
You tie should compliment the color of your shirt. Stick to ties that are colored in the same hue as your shirt:
- Lavender shirt = ties in shades of purple
- Light blue shirt = ties in shades of blue (avoid navy!)
- White shirt = most tie colors will work with this
- Off-White shirt = ties in earth shades like dark green and brown
- Power pink = ties in shades of pink or purple
When Should You Avoid Wearing A Black Suit?
Black suits are typically seen as being too formal and dark for summer weddings.
A summer wedding is all about happiness, warmth and summer vibes – three things that people don't often associate with the color black.
As such, I'd advise avoiding black suits for summer weddings. Instead, go for a lighter colored suit in a linen or cotton fabric.
The same goes for black ties. A black tie can be seen as too formal and ‘stuffy' for a summer wedding – so it's best to avoid them altogether. If you're set on wearing black, opt for a black shirt with a gray or powder-blue suit instead.