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How To Wear A Navy Shirt With Black Pants

Certain combinations are tough to beat when it comes to elegance. But is this one of them? More specifically, can you wear a navy shirt with black pants? 

A navy shirt can be worn with black pants in dressy evening social settings. The dark ensemble has a subtle sophistication to it. Ensure the shade of the navy shirt is noticeably different from the black pants. In addition, consider wearing a blazer to up the formality level. 

While that’s the gist, there’s plenty more to go through. 

What you need are some essential tips for pulling off this combination in the best way possible. That’s exactly what you’re about to get. 

Let’s get to it. 

man in navy blue shirt and black pants
Image From Deposit Photos

1. Keep It For Dressy Evening Social Events

While you could say that a navy shirt and black pants combo was pretty versatile, it really is best suited to dressy evening social events. 

These are nighttime events where a dress shirt and dress pants/slacks outfit would be appropriate. 

It comes down to the fact that navy and black are dark. Very dark. 

While wearing such a dark outfit is unlikely to draw too many stares, wearing it in broad daylight would usually look a little awkward. 

You’d stand out from a crowd and not in the best way. 

Rays of natural light hitting the dark tones of navy shirts and black pants can often look jarring and out of place. 

This is especially true when the outfit is worn in more casual daytime settings. Darker colors are generally considered dressier/more formal. 

Wear the same combination in the evening, however, and it’s transformed into an effortlessly sophisticated ensemble. 

dressy navy shirt and black pants
Image From Deposit Photos

The bottom line here is that you should reserve the combination for dressy evening social events where you want to dress up but don’t feel as though a suit would be necessary. 

2. Make Sure The Colors Are Noticeably Different

Choose a navy shirt that’s noticeably different in color from the black pants you’re wearing. The two items should be easily distinguished from each other. 

Although “navy blue” is technically a specific color with a specific color code (##000080), the term is often used to refer to any shade of dark blue. 

While this isn’t that big of a deal, it can cause some problems when it comes to communication. 

When some people hear the term, they may think of very dark blue – almost black. 

Others may think of a shade of blue that’s dark but not that dark. 

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. You could use the term to refer to any shade of dark blue if you really wanted to. 

What matters more is ensuring that the shirt and pants you wear are different enough in color to be noticeable. 

If you choose a navy shirt that’s extremely similar in color to the black pants you’re wearing, the difference could be hardly noticeable. 

What you could be left with is a combination that almost looks all-black. 

While a monochromatic outfit such as this could work, it’s probably not the look you’re going for. 

In addition, going full monochromatic isn’t exactly subtle and tends to stand out from the crowd. 

So, choose a navy shirt that’s different enough from the black pants to be easily noticeable. 

Here’s an example on Amazon for illustrative purposes. Yes, the navy shirt and black pants are very similar, but they’re still noticeably different. 

3. Consider The Style Of Pants And Shirt

This comes down to the dress code. 

In dressier and more formal settings, consider a navy dress shirt and black dress pants combination. 

Here, the fabrics you’ll be working with will most likely be cotton and wool. They’ll most likely have a dressy sheen to them and be relatively wrinkle-resistant. 

For events that aren’t quite as dressy (eg. smart-casual settings), consider more casual shirt and pants styles. 

For example, navy linen or OCBD shirts together with black chinos. The shirts may have patterns. 

casual navy shirt and black pants
Image From Deposit Photos

The main point here is that a “navy shirt and black pants” combination can refer to a wide range of different looks depending on the style of the items you go for. 

4. Tucking In Usually Works Best

The subtle elegance of the dark combination usually works best when a point is made to respect other traditional and “formal” practices. 

A simple one would be tucking the shirt in. 

While it isn’t essential, it’s usually best. This is especially true in dressy evening settings. 

Leaving the shirt untucked would be more appropriate in smart-casual settings. 

For example, if you were wearing a navy linen shirt with black chinos or linen pants, leaving it untucked would probably be appropriate. 

At the end of the day, if you feel as though more casual items such as those would be fine to wear, leaving the shirt untucked would most likely be acceptable too. 

If you feel as though the navy shirt should be tucked in, it’s important that you choose a shirt that’s capable of tucking in. 

It’s pretty easy to spot a shirt that was designed to be tucked in. 

The hem (i.e bottom edge) of the shirt is often long at the back, producing a subtle tail-like appearance. 

This is the biggest tell-tale sign that a shirt is meant for tucking. In fact, leaving it untucked often looks awkward and unstylish. 

On the other hand, shirts without this long hem are often tough to tuck in. They tend to creep out and untuck themselves as the day goes on. 

It’s incredibly annoying and can also ruin the look. 

5. Consider A Blazer 

A blazer is a sure-fire way of upping the formality level of any combination. A navy shirt and black pants outfit is no exception. 

However, given how dark the shirt and pants are, it’s important to give the color of your blazer some thought. 

In general, you’ll want to avoid black blazers. 

Wearing a navy shirt, black blazer, and black pants would simply come across as though you were wearing a poorly-matched suit. 

You’ll want a blazer that’s noticeably different from the black pants. 

However, it’s still best to stick with the overall dark aesthetic of the shirt and pants combination. 

Going for a blazer that’s too light in color would probably lead to too much contrast with the rest of the outfit. 

For example, wearing a light grey blazer with a navy shirt and black pants would just make the blazer stand out from the outfit too much. 

Instead, consider a blazer in a darker shade of grey. It’s different enough from the black pants to distinguish them, while also being dark enough to fit with the overall aesthetic. 

dark grey blazer
Image From Deposit Photos

A slate grey or charcoal grey blazer would both be good options here. 

6. Go Tieless

This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule by any means. If you feel as though a tie would be appropriate or even encouraged, where one. 

However, the dark combination of a navy shirt and black pants has a distinctly sociable feel to it. 

You’d be much more likely to see the combination at an evening soiree than in the workplace, for example. 

Because of this, you may want to ditch the more traditional and “professional” items and keep things dressy but laid back. 

The easiest way to do this would simply be to forget the tie and leave the top button undone. 

Another reason for this is that wearing a tie over a very dark shirt color such as navy blue or black can sometimes be tough. 

In general, lighter and brighter tie colors tend to pop out and stand out too much against the dark backdrop of the shirt. 

You’ll need to choose a tie that’s suitably dark enough for this not to occur. 

You’re pretty restricted to ties in colors such as black or charcoal. 

Overall, the navy shirt and black pants combo works best without a tie. 

Dressy, but relaxed. 

7. A Leather Belt With A Silver Buckle

A great way to round off the outfit would be to wear a leather belt. 

This is especially important when you’re tucking the shirt in. 

Choosing the right belt color is important. The main factor that should determine this is your shoe color. 

When wearing a navy shirt with black pants, the best shoe color options would be black or dark brown. 

The belt should match the shoes. 

If you’ve gone for black shoes, wear a black belt. 

If you’re wearing dark brown shoes, wear a dark brown belt. 

Not sticking to this fundamental principle of formal men’s style is a quick way to make an outfit appear poorly coordinated. 

Finally, this outfit looks particularly dapper when the leather belt has a prominent silver buckle. 

There’s just something great about the glint from a silver buckle breaking up the darkness of the shirt and pants combination. 

Enjoy.