Taking risks in men’s style is never a bad thing – until it backfires. Going for a monochromatic look can look incredibly dapper when it’s done the right way. But can you wear a black shirt with a black suit?
A black shirt can be worn with a black suit to formal evening social events. Add color and contrast with a necktie and pocket square to prevent the outfit from looking too monochromatic.
Although that’s the short answer, there’s more to it.
After going through some crucial tips for wearing black shirts with black suits in the most effective and stylish way possible, I’ll run through some FAQs to really round things up.
Let’s get to it.
7 Tips For Wearing Black Shirts With Black Suits
These tips should see you through no matter where you’re going. Consider all of them before putting together your outfit.
1. Make Sure It’s OK For The Dress Code
The black shirt and black suit combination is formal. Black is about as formal as you can get when it comes to most items of clothing.
The combo can look sleek, elegant, and sophisticated – but it shouldn’t be considered anything other than formal.
Because of this, the only dress code it should really be worn to is “formal” and nothing else.
Here are some examples of dress codes where you shouldn’t wear it:
- Business-Professional: A white shirt would be a lot more appropriate than black shirts, as black shirts have a more “social” feel to them.
- Business-Casual: A black shirt and black suit would look too formal. Go for a dress shirt and chinos/dress pants combination instead.
- Smart-Casual: It would look way too formal for a dress code where a polo and khakis combination would be more than enough.
- Black-Tie: A tuxedo would be required. A simple black suit wouldn’t cut it.
Once you’re sure the outfit would be appropriate for the setting you’re attending, consider the following tips as well.
2. Avoid Wearing It To Daytime Events
The black shirt and black suit ensemble should really only be worn to evening social events.
Trying to wear it to daytime events will usually make it come across as awkward and out of place.
The same combination could look sophisticated and dapper during the night, but unusual and jarring at night time.
It’s the same reason why “black-tie” is a dress code that should really only be applied after 6pm. “Morning dress” is the equivalent ultra-formal dress code that applies before that time and the palette of colors is lighter.
Although you aren’t attending an event quite as formal as this, the same principle applies.
Going for an all-black look like this will always look better at night.
If you’re going to a daytime event, consider a white or off-white dress shirt instead.
3. Try To Choose Different Shades Of Black
Try to choose a shirt and suit that are different shades of black.
At the end of the day, “black” refers to a spectrum of colors that can range from very black to a color that’s light enough to border on “charcoal grey”.
Just like with any other color, you’ve got lighter shades and darker shades. This should be used to your advantage.
To prevent the look from being too monochromatic, consider varying the shades a little.
For example, try going for a shirt that’s in a lighter shade of black – one that could almost pass off for charcoal grey. Pair this with a black suit that’s clearly much darker.
You could also do the opposite. Go for a lighter shade of black for the suit and pair it with a black shirt that almost looks charcoal grey.
Whichever option you choose, you’ve now got the benefit of contrast.
The shirt and the suit aren’t so similar in color that they simply blend into one.
The shades are subtly different – enough to easily distinguish one item from the other. This contrast should always be considered a good thing and is something to strive for.
If you do find that your shirt and suit are pretty similar in shade and it’s too late to do anything about it, don’t worry.
There are other techniques you can use to add some contrast to the outfit as a whole. Read on to find out what those are.
4. Add Color With The Necktie
With any monochromatic formal outfit, the necktie should be seen as a great opportunity to add a splash of color and to break up the outfit.
What you want is to choose a color that strikes a balance between easily standing out against the backdrop while also complementing the black aesthetic as a whole.
A simple way of doing this would be to keep things dark.
Dark grey and burgundy red neckties work very well when wearing a black shirt with a black suit. They’re dark enough to sync well with the black outfit but do also stand out.
Silk neckties generally work best here because they have an effortlessly formal edge to them. While cotton and woolen ties can also work, they don’t have the same amount of sheen and gloss.
When you’re wearing what should be considered a truly formal outfit, having some sheen and gloss to your tie is a benefit.
5. Add Contrast With A Pocket Square
Adding a pocket square is also a great way to add just a touch of color and contrast. As always, you’ll want to choose one that complements but doesn’t exactly match the necktie.
For example, if you’d gone for a burgundy red necktie, go for a pocket square in a lighter shade of red.
If you’d gone for a dark grey necktie, consider a pocket square in a lighter shade of grey or even in off-white.
While color matching can get very technical (and boring), keep things simple by choosing a lighter shade of the color you chose for your necktie and you should be fine.
This is simply another way you can break up the monochromatic appearance of a black suit over a black shirt.
It isn’t essential, but it’s definitely effective.
6. Belts With Shiny Metal Buckles
A shiny metal belt buckle can also prevent the outfit from looking too monochromatic. Ideally, it should have just enough glare to easily be noticeable.
The color of the belt should match the shoes – whether that’s black or dark brown.
But the key component here is the belt buckle.
What it does is break the outfit up. It almost splits the black ensemble into two halves (top and bottom) instead of allowing it all to blend seamlessly into one.
It’s a simple trick that people should take advantage of. You’ll be wearing a belt in any case, so you might as well choose one with a purpose.
Here’s a good example of a shiny metal plaque buckle on Amazon:
7. Consider Dark Brown Shoes Instead Of Black
While both black and dark brown dress shoes can work well when wearing a black shirt and a black suit, dark brown would be a better choice for adding some contrast.
Ultimately, either of these choices would work well. Avoid going for anything lighter than dark brown as it can look a little too casual for the outfit as a whole.
It’s important not to underestimate the change that simply switching black shoes for dark brown shoes can make. It adds a nice sense of balance and contrast.
As long as you match the belt to your shoes, it should work very well.
Always go for shiny grains of leather such as calfskin or cowhide and avoid the napped and casual texture of suede here.
It simply won’t look formal enough.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions to really finish things off in style.
Can You Wear A Black Shirt And Black Suit For A Wedding?
A black shirt and black suit should never be worn to a wedding as it’s traditionally considered inappropriate. The color is more associated with somber events and would be inappropriate for celebratory daytime events such as a wedding.
Another reason why it would be a bad idea is that you’ll stand out from the crowd. It’s quite likely that you’d be the only one wearing so much black and you’re likely to stick out for doing so.
At a wedding, standing out because of what you’ve worn is considered distasteful.
The wedding couple should be the most boldly dressed people at the event and any perceived attempt at outdressing them is generally considered a faux pas.
So, avoid wearing it at all costs and go for a simple white dress shirt and suit instead.
Can You Wear A Black Shirt And Black Suit To A Funeral?
A black shirt and black suit can be worn to a funeral as the color is traditionally associated with somber events.
While it isn’t quite as common as wearing a white shirt and black suit, the combination would be considered appropriate and reasonable.
Can You Wear A Black Shirt And Black Suit To An Interview?
In general, it’s best to avoid wearing a black shirt and a black suit to an interview because it’s usually worn to evening social events. Trying to wear it in a business setting could be seen as inappropriate.
Overall, it’s not a risk worth taking. You don’t want what you wear to have any impact or influence over whether you get the job or not.
Although it’s unlikely to do any serious harm, it would be safer to simply wear a white or baby blue dress shirt with a 2-piece suit instead.
A black suit could be a great option here, but not with a black shirt as well.
Can You Wear A Black 3-Piece Suit With A Black Shirt?
A black 3-piece suit can be worn with a black shirt to evening social events. To prevent the outfit from looking too monochromatic, add some color and contrast with a necktie and pocket square.
The same tips apply here.
The trick is to break the outfit up with splashes and touches of contrast wherever you can.
A 3-piece suit does look a notch more formal than a 2-piece suit, especially when you’re wearing all-black.
Because of this, it’s important to be certain that you aren’t overdressing by checking that the setting is formal enough for it to be considered appropriate.
Hopefully, that’s everything you could need to know to pull off this classic combination each and every time.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.