How To Wear A Black Suit For Work & Play

The black suit is an essential staple in a man's wardrobe. We get down on how to wear it right.

how to wear a black suit

The black suit can so easily be forgotten – shafted for a hipper blue suit, or a stylish grey number in windowpane check or sleek charcoal.

Yet, in a menswear world obsessed with the new and the bold, a well-tailored suit – in black – is a surefire way to look sophisticatedly chic. Especially among the sea of navy, light grey and beige suits constantly on parade.

Not to mention, black goes with everything. And it’s slimming. A triple win, really. To help you out, we’ve put together a selection of our favourite street, celebrity and lookbook shots, which showcase the very best in black suits. With a plethora of men working in black from season to season – from the office to weddings, to that all-important first date, black is certainly worth a look when deciding what suit to wear.

For more ways than one to wear it, check out the gallery below. But before you do, read on to find out exactly how, and when, to wear the black suit, followed by an expert tip from menswear designer, tailor and suit connoisseur.

Black Suit Rules To Follow When

The classic black suit from Hugo Boss
  • As a rule, styling should be simple but varies on the occasion. Formal or black tie events look best with a classic white dress shirt, with a bow tie or long tie in woven silk.
  • An all-black outfit can look sharp and slick, especially for the party season. Start by contrasting the textures between individual pieces, creating depth and spiking definition. For example, textured tie and shirt combinations.
  • Then, play around with accessories – silver tie pins, a lapel pin in rose gold or brass and mother of pearl cufflinks creating sophistication and old-world charm. These fixtures will add warmth to the monochrome palette of the black-and-white too.
  • For smart casual, exchange the button-up shirt for a t-shirt in summer or a roll neck sweater in winter. Just keep the layer piece’s colour neutral (maroon, navy, olive, beige) and patterns tasteful (think Breton stripe or a contemporary geometric mosaic).
  • Not into ties? Don an open neck, button shirt and grab a neckerchief, tying it in a loose knot around the neck before tucking the loose ends into the shirt or letting them fly about – like a rockstar – in the breeze.
  • Finish a formal black suit with a smart pair of black dress shoes or a more rockish outfit with Chelsea boots. Look to a black suede cap-toe for a tonal match that will add some texture to your outfit too.
  • Take the formal edge off a two-piece by splitting the suit into separates and pairing the jacket with slim grey trousers or jeans.
  • Black tends to show up the dirt (not red wine, luckily) so be sure to do the once-over with a damp cloth to rid your gear of any stains. Dry clean, only when necessary or every two to three months.

When to Wear a Black Suit

Black suits are the traditional choice for the most formal of events, adhering to historical dress codes that associate black with formality. This makes a black suit the perfect attire for galas, opera nights, charity balls and other highly formal events. They are also suitable for funerals and weddings.

A black suit is, however, usually too formal for all days of work, so you probably want to save it for the big meetings or days you want to make a strong impression  For most business settings, a navy or grey suit will be just fine.

The season is another factor to consider when deciding whether to go for a black suit. In the winter, you are less likely to go wrong with a black suit for an evening event. However, lighter colours like grey are generally better in warmer months.

Black Suit Combinations

Black Suit, White Shirt & Black Tie

The timeless classic black suit, white shirt and black tie combination will always be a foolproof go-to combination. Ensure you have a white pocket square otherwise, you’ll look like a waiter. If in doubt run this look and you will be fine. TIP: Ensure your black shoes are lace-ups and polished.

Black Suit & Sneakers

If your suit is well-tailored then it’s perfectly okay to wear sneakers. White leather will be your easiest option otherwise opt for some colour. Your sneakers must be clean!! Keep your trouser length on the shorter side so there’s no break, unless your pants are wide.

Black Suit & Black Shirt

Nothing says nightclub lothario like the black suit and black shirt combination. Ensure you complete this combination with a fitted black shirt and either lace-up oxford or loafers. This is very John Wick.

Black Suit & T-Shirt

Keep it casual with a clean and well-fitted white or black t-shirt. Your look will be perfect for smart casual events. Complete the look with black sneakers or a derby shoe. We recommend hitting up Uniqlo for a cheap t-shirt, you won’t be disappointed.

Black Suit & Colour

Think of the movie Alfie when Jude Law wears a light pink shirt with his black Ralph Lauren suit. Choose softer colours, otherwise one bold colour only. So a bold shirt or a bold tie but not both. This is perfect for a special event when you want to stand out.

Expert Tip On Wearing A Black Suit

We asked Sydney men’s stylist, Jeff Lack for his advice on the black suit.

“There are some very simple rules when buying, owning and wearing a black suit. The first rule of the black suit club: you have to own one! Why? It’s a wardrobe staple. A black suit is so versatile and it can be can be utilised for all occasions.

Picture this: it’s the start of a new week, and you are wearing a white, spread collar shirt paired with an Italian silk, black-and-white polka-dot tie (half Windsor knot, of course). Matte-black, polished leather monk strap shoes – with silk black-and-white polkadot socks, match back perfectly with your tie. You look great, feel great, and are now ready to do a great job.

The second rule of the black suit club: make sure your suit is made from a natural fabric – wool, linen, cotton or a blend (wool, silk, cashmere, linen etc). Under no circumstances are polyester or poly-blends acceptable.

The third rule of the black suit club (or any suit club): make sure the suit fits. Do not be swayed by brand names, labels or price tags. No fit, no entry.

On Fridays, wear your favourite raw, selvedge denim jeans, roll your cuffs (two turns) and throw on a basic white t-shirt, before sliding into some woven suede loafers. Your impeccably tailored black jacket adds an elegant, refined profile to your contemporary look. Now, sip on a whisky (neat) and reflect on your week’s accolades.”