A great-fitting black suit oozes sophisticated luxury and is the ultimate traditional look for men.
Dare to be classic in a time when menswear is preoccupied with being bold and hip.
Black offers a stylish and sleek appearance once you learn how to wear it with the right shirt and tie combination.
How to Wear a Black Suit: The Basics
You can think of black as the absence of color. This means that, in theory, everything goes with black.
But there are some stipulations that make it different from other suit colors.
So, how do you wear one adequately yet stand out in a sea of black suits?
Of course, a white shirt is an obvious option to wear with a suit. But pink, blue, and even black shirts can look great, too.
The preferred footwear option is black Oxfords, although Derby shoes and monk straps are also acceptable.
Don’t be tempted to use too much color with the black; rather, try to keep it simple.
Pocket squares are your go-to accessory for a finishing touch that will liven up the whole look.
First Things First: The Fit
That way, it enhances your natural physique, exuding a sense of confidence and poise that’s hard to ignore.
Pay special attention to shoulders. The seam should lie flat, and the edge should align closely with the natural curve of your shoulder.
When buttoned, the jacket should fit snugly around your chest but still allow movement. Remember, a suit that fits well is also one that feels good to wear.
A slight break at the shoe is usually the norm, as black suits tend to be more conservative. And wear black socks that fully cover your ankle.
Matching the Tie & Shirt
The rule of thumb is that your tie needs to be darker than your colored shirt. Also, darker suits tend to match better with darker ties.
In addition, you can pick a dark-based tie with a pattern to add a little color and sophistication to your appearance.
Look for ties with small prints and patterns like stripes, plaid, or polka dots. And always use a different scale pattern on the tie and shirt.
For example, if your tie has bold stripes, wear a solid color shirt or one with a tiny pattern only.
Black Suit and White Shirt Color Combinations
It’s hard to mess up a black suit and white shirt combination. The look works pretty much anywhere, any time. Wear it to the office, a wedding, or out for dinner.
Getting the tie wrong, however, can cause problems with the look. Since black and white are classic colors, embrace tradition when choosing a tie for formal occasions.
Depending on the occasion, your shade of tie can add a lively or more subtle note to your black/white backdrop. Of course, you can always wear a black bow tie.
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A red tie will always add a “pop” to your black suit/white shirt combo. Avoid shiny ties that look outdated, and opt for matte or woolen ties.
The rule of thumb states that the more formal the event, the darker the tie, with black patent leather shoes to complete the outfit.
Pick this elegant combination as your wedding suit, formal dinners, or business meetings.
For more casual occasions, brighter shades of red are acceptable, and black suede brogues or loafers are fine during the day.
Coupled with a crisp white shirt, the grey shades in your tie can range from dark to almost silver without appearing out of place.
Remember that your tie should fit the proportions of your lapel.
Black patent Chelsea boots or a pair of semi-brogue Oxfords are ideal for this combo.
The epitome of all men’s looks, the black suit, white shirt, and black tie combo is a true classic.
However, with an outfit that is equally appropriate for weddings and funerals, the texture is critical.
Wool, cashmere, or tweed ties will lighten the look and are good in winter, while silk is considered seriously formal.
Finally, go for black suede Chelseas or patent black loafers to complete the ensemble.
The genius of black and white means you can combine them with just about any shade of blue.
Again, navy and darker shades of blue are best for formal events. On the other hand, light and even powder blues can add a pleasing, playful note to the look.
This classy but daring combo of a black suit and a brown tie allows you to show off your sartorial prowess. Silk ties work well here, matt or shiny.
For shoes, go classic with black patent Oxfords or casual with leather loafers in dark brown.
Black Suit and Pink Shirt Color Combinations
In combination with a black suit, single-tone pink shirts are the way to go. This creates a great foundation for your choice of tie.
The pink shirt is flattering and surprisingly easy to pull off. Red, pink, and purple ties are all good color options.
A light-pink button-down Oxford, for example, looks smart without being stuffy. It’s also a dapper choice when you need something for a less casual event.
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Red and pink are color wheel bedfellows, so go bold with a strong, dark red to create contrast. Silk and cotton ties complement the look well.
Opt for patent leather dress shoes for formal occasions or black suede ankle boots for more fun-based events.
Probably one of my personal favorite choices with a pink shirt. Quite a neat combination, adding elegance and a subtle note of refinement.
Since navy ties go naturally with patterns, choose a dotted or striped tie with pink stripes. Foulard ties with pink elements work great, too.
You need to break up the look here, which means that contrast is essential.
Your shirt and tie should not be a similar shade of pink. For example, pair a dark pink shirt with a light pink tie, or vice-versa.
Texture can help add contrast, too, with woolen neckwear adding a playful touch.
For shoes, anything goes. Just keep them black.
From lavender to lilac, through to magenta and mulberry, to shades of plum and violet, purple has a lot going on.
So, while still close on the color wheel to pink, a purple shade opens up a lot more options.
Purple is the color of kings, so texture-wise, silk is probably your best choice.
Footwear? Classic Oxfords, Cheltenham brogues, or patent leather penny loafers will all work well with the black/pink/purple combo.
Black Suit and Blue Shirt Color Combinations
Black and blue together aren’t a man’s favorite cup of tea, but they can work if you follow a few rules. To begin with, it’s best to pick a light blue shirt, close to white.
This almost universal color suits most skin tones. It’s an inoffensive color that’s fairly neutral.
Your outfit will be better with some contrast. So, a navy shirt wouldn’t be the best choice here.
A black suit, light blue shirt, and dark tie combination work well in the boardroom meeting. It gives that subtle hint of dressiness without being overly formal.
Get smart in a contemporary way – make sure that the suit is beautifully tailored and fits like a glove.
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Yes, this can work if you pay attention to detail. First, pick out a powder blue shirt. The perfect blue tie is royal or cobalt with a powder blue and black stripe or pattern.
This patterning pulls the entire outfit together and is great for office or other daywear.
A navy tie over a light blue shirt can look great, particularly if the tie has a touch of pink, dark red, or maroon running through it.
Prince Harry pulled off this very suave-looking combo. His black suit, light blue shirt, and narrow dark red tie pairing worked brilliantly together.
His blue shirt had a subtle red thread running through it, so this was one clever outfit indeed.
Olive Green Tie
Dark green ties work with blue shirts the same reason red ties do – these colors create a triadic color scheme.
Typically, a lighter or muted blue shirt pairs nicely with the depth of an olive green tie, creating a balanced and visually appealing ensemble.
Black Suit and Grey Shirt Color Combinations
This is a very good color pairing that looks good with any skin tone. Choose from a range of grey tones, from silver, slate, dove grey, or charcoal.
It’s a softer contrast than black with a white shirt and looks very pulled together with silver accessories like a silver watch and ring. Black shoes would be best.
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A black tie looks very smooth with a slate grey shirt. Choose a slim black tie rather than something wide. A tie with some diagonal stripes or preppy checks will lighten the mood a little.
Dark Grey Tie
A dark grey tie worn with a shirt just a shade or two lighter is smart yet trendy. Look for a tie with some texture or embossed patterns for interest.
Black Suit and Black Shirt Color Combinations
Combining a black shirt with a black suit can be a difficult look to pull off. The lack of distinction between the two pieces means that getting the right balance is an absolute must.
If you decide to take on the challenge, remember that this very exacting color combo demands quality. A mediocre black shirt will ruin the effect of even the best black suit.
The shirt should be slim-fit, like the suit, and matte rather than shiny. Use the tie fabric to add a difference, but don’t steer away from black.
Tightly knitted wool ties in pastel shades work well as they imply a casual flavor.
Suede brogues or loafers in black (never brown) can also help break up an otherwise sober appearance.
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For more black suit and shirt outfits, check out this article.
Dress Shoes You Can Wear with a Black Suit
Black dress shoes are a tried and true partner of the black suit. So regardless of the shirt color, the black suit works best with black shoes.
As for the dress shoe style, Oxfords are the most recommended choice here. They’re the most formal option and go with most dress codes where black is mandatory.
Patent leather Oxfords are at the peak of class and formality, making them an acceptable solution for highly-formal black-tie events.
Black derby shoes are the second-best choice here. They’re good for formal business settings and perfectly complete the look.
Monkstraps, loafers, or brogues are good choices for black shoes if you want to reduce the formality and add some playful elements to your outfit.
Contrary to popular belief, brown shoes are also acceptable with a black suit, especially if matched with brown or other strong-shade ties.
Matching the rest of the outfit is also crucial when you opt for brown shoes, e.g., wearing a brown belt that compliments the shoe color.
For more shoe color options you can wear with a black suit, check out this article.
Other Ways to Wear a Black Suit
As formal as black suits appear, what you wear under them alters your appearance and formality.
As dress shirts and ties are reserved for more formal settings, here are some alternative ways to wear your black suit that may fit more casual circumstances.
Black Suits and T-Shirts
You can pair a black suit with different T-shirt styles and shoes for a wide range of looks.
To stick to a more classic and minimalist suit and t-shirt look, opt for a white or black crew neck T-shirt.
You can also introduce a pop of color or subtle pattern for a more casual and youthful appearance.
Changing the crew neck to a polo T-shirt takes the smart-casual look a notch higher. The polo sticks closer to the suit’s formal roots while still introducing a sporty element to it.
For footwear, black leather loafers add a touch of class without being overly formal. Or wear sneakers to lend a relaxed and more casual flair to your outfit.
Sweaters and Turtlenecks
Replacing the traditional dress shirt with a sweater or turtleneck can create a relaxed, smart, and cozy look.
A black crew-neck sweater is instinctively the first choice most men would go for.
But you can also pick one in a neutral color like grey or navy. In addition, a bold hue (like burgundy) can add depth and texture to your suit.
You can stylishly pair a turtleneck with your black suit. For example, matching a black turtleneck achieves a sophisticated, monochromatic look.
Alternatively, a white or beige turtleneck can beautifully contrast and elevate the entire ensemble.
Since sweaters and turtlenecks are prevalent in cooler temperatures, dress boots or Chelsea boots make an ideal complement.
Three-Piece Black Suits
Adding a matching vest to your black suit elevates the entire outfit to the pinnacle of formal wear.
The best way to finish the look is by pairing the three-piece suit with a white dress shirt, black tie, and black dress shoes.
But you can also be creative with the shirt and tie matching. For example, a blue dress shirt or a navy tie would be a nice way to add flair to your look.
It would also be a great opportunity to finish the suit with brown dress shoes (instead of the classic black).
Separating the Black Suit Jacket and Pants
Consider wearing the jacket and pants separately to maximize the versatility of your black suit.
One of the best ways to wear the black suit jacket is with grey or charcoal dress pants.
Or pair the jacket with contrasting trousers, like off-white or khaki chinos, for a casual yet put-together look.
Similarly, pair the black suit pants with a navy blazer for added formality. Opt for a light blazer for a smart-casual aesthetic.
Hi, I’m Alex, and I’ve studied and specialized in styling in Rome. Through my writing, I want to help men dress well and learn the purpose and significance of suits and other formal attire. My final goal is to make men more confident in their wardrobe choice and life in general.