Q And Answer: What’s Wrong With A Black Suit?

September 28, 2010

Q and Answer: What’s Wrong with a Black Suit?

Aliotsy writes to ask: I was wondering: what’s wrong with black suits?

There are times and places for black suits, but they aren’t what some men think they are: an all-purpose basic.  In fact, they’re one of the less-useful suits.  A few reasons:

  • They look bad on almost anyone.  Better on people with high-contrast coloring (black hair, light skin), but even then they tend to make the skin look sallow.
  • Black is a color for evening.  That’s why tuxedos are black.  Most men are buying basic suits for daytime wear.
  • Black is the color of mourning.  Unless you have a black suit-specific job, you would only wear black during the day if you were going to a funeral.
  • You will look like A) a waiter, B) a priest, C) an undertaker, D) a dork trying to look like a Quentin Tarantino character or E) some mix of the above (undertaker dork?).
  • Black is not complimentary to almost any other color and is thus quite difficult to wear.

The real key: almost anything that you can do in a black suit, you can do in a dark gray suit, and that suit will have none of the problems listed above. 

Our friend Trey Kirby wrote that he’s in a wedding party where the dress code is “black suit,” and wondered what he can do with a black suit, now that he’ll have to buy one.

Black suits are perfectly suitable for going out in the evening.  The high-contrast looks (usually black/white/gray) that they lead to are suitable for dimmer lighting.  Feel free to wear a black suit to a club or an art opening.  In the evening, black is just fine.

Also, from what I understand: business in Asia.  I’m no expert on that, though.

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