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

Black suits are a formal attire staple but can also be worn on various other semi-formal occasions.

how to wear a black suit for different occasions

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.

Black Suit color variations

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.

black oxford vs. derby shoes

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.

different ways to wear a pocket square with a black suit

When in doubt, go back to the basic color combination guide for tips and advice on your choice of shades, and play with the color wheel until you find the perfect spot.

First Things First: The Fit

To make the appearance appealing, the black suit should fit perfectly. It should stay close to your body type, accentuating your assets and gracefully disguising your liabilities.

how should a black suit 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 with Your Suit

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.

black suit color combinations with suit and tie

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.

Choose the Black Suit by Cut

People seem to forget how the suit cut becomes crucial when matching your body proportions.

So, the first thing when buying a new suit is understanding the preferred suit cut for your body type.

Classic-Fit Black Suits

The classic cut is your go-to if you’ve got a fuller or more athletic build. These suits are roomier in the chest and waist.

So, if you prioritize ease of movement, the classic cut is your best ally. They provide class and comfort, perfect for everyday wear.

Best Choices

Suitsupply Napoli regular-fit wool black suit

Pure wool suit by Suitsupply.

made-to-measure wool black suit by Hockerty

Black wool suit by Hockerty.

Modern-fit black suit by Tommy Hilfiger

Modern-fit suit by Tommy Hilfiger.

Modern-fit two-piece suit by Tomasso Black

Modern-fit suit by Tomasso Black.

Classic-fit black suit by CHAPS

Black suit by Chaps.

Slim-Fit Black Suits

The slim-fit cut will accentuate your physique. It can be the best choice if you’re leaner or have a more slender frame.

Also, it’s a more contemporary suit design. The chest and waist are tailored closer to the body, thus making you feel sharp, powerful, and bold.

Best Choices

Stretch slim-fit black suit by Calvin Klein

Stretch slim-fit suit by Calvin Klein.

Suitsupply Lazio slim-fit wool black suit

Black wool suit by Suitsupply.

Black slim-fit luxurious wool suit by Tomasso Black

Wool suit by Tomasso Black.

Unlisted slim-fit suit by Kenneth Cole

Slim-fit suit by Kenneth Cole.

made-to-measure wool blends suit by Hockerty

Wool blends suit by Hockerty.

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.

wearing white shirt with black suit

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 too.

Best Choices

Slim fit white shirt by Amazon Essentials

Slim fit shirt by Amazon Essentials.

Slim fit white shirt by Calvin Klein

Slim-fit shirt by Calvin Klein.

Van Hausen regular fit white shirt

Regular fit white shirt by Van Hausen.

Kenneth Cole slim fit shirt in white color

Dress shirt by Kenneth Cole.

Red Tie

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.

Kissties men's striped tie in red colorSolid burgundy tie by KisstiesDotted tie red color with white dots by Nautica

Grey Tie

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, and again, avoid shiny materials.

Black patent Chelsea boots or a pair of semi-brogue Oxfords are ideal for this combo.

Solid grey tie by QBSMSolid grey tie Kissties

Black Tie

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.

Solid black tie by QBSMDotted tie Black color with white dots by Nautica

Blue/Navy Tie

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. So, light and even powder blues can add a pleasing, playful note to the look.

Opt for ties made of silk or cashmere and glossy, patent black leather for the shoes.

Solid sky blue tie by WITZROYSSolid blue tie by KisstiesDotted royal blue tie by ElfevesSolid navy tie by the Tie Bar

Brown Tie

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.

Foulard solid brown tie by Shlax & WingStriped brown with white tie by Scott Allan

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.

how to wear a black suit with pink dress shirt

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.

Aim for youthful fits and textures to stave off the elderly effect. Wear this interesting combination for important cocktail events or a daytime wedding.

Best Choices

Regular-fit pink shirt by J.Ver.

Tailored fit light-pink shirt by Buttoned Down

Light-pink shirt by Buttoned Down.

Calvin Klein Slim Fit Pink Shirt

Slim-fit pink shirt by Calvin Klein.

Unlisted regular fit pink shirt by Kenneth Cole

Regular-fit shirt by Kenneth Cole.

Red Tie

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.

Kissties men's striped tie in red colorSolid burgundy tie by Kissties

Navy Tie

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.

Striped Navy tie with pink stripes by Luther Pike SeattlePolka dot navy tie with pink dots by Kissties

Pink Tie

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, just about anything goes. Just keep them black.

Striped dark pink tie by KisstiesStriped pink tie with black stripes by RetreezSolid tie in pink color by QBSM

Purple Tie

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.

Solid purple tie by Kissties Solid purple tie by QBSM Dotted purple tie with white dots by Retreez

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.

how to wear a black suit with blue dress shirt

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.

Best Choices

Slim fit blue-striped white shirt by Calvin Klein

Slim-fit blue-striped shirt by Calvin Klein.

Classic Fit Blue Shirt by Buttoned Down

Classic-fit blue shirt by Buttoned Down.

Slim fit blue shirt by Tommy Hilfiger

Slim-fit shirt by Tommy Hilfiger.

Slim fit blue shirt by Kenneth Cole

Slim-fit blue shirt by Kenneth Cole.

Black Tie

A black suit, white shirt, and black tie are a classic, but you can end up looking a little bit like a waiter if you’re not careful.

So use an accessory like a contrasting pocket square to prevent this.

Dotted tie Black color with white dots by NauticaSolid black tie by QBSM

Blue Tie

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.

Striped dark blue tie with powder-blue stripes by Bows&TiesSolid blue tie by KisstiesBritish-striped navu blue tie by Retreez

Navy Tie

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.

Solid navy tie by the Tie BarPierre Cardin solid navy blue tie

Red Tie

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.

Elviros solid tie in dark red colorSolid burgundy tie by Kissties

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.

how to wear a black suit with a grey dress shirt

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.

Shop the Look

Black slim-fit luxurious wool suit by Tomasso Black

Black wool suit by Tomasso Black.

slim fit charcoal grey shirt by Van Heusen

Charcoal grey shirt by Van Heusen.

Solid grey tie Kissties

Grey tie by Kissties.

Black slim-fit luxurious wool suit by Tomasso Black

Black tie by QBSM.

Black Tie

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.

how to wear a black suit with a black dress shirt

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.

Shop the Look

double-breasted wool blends suit by Hockerty

Double-breasted wool blend suit by Hockerty.

Slim fit black shirt by Calvin Klein

Slim fit black shirt by Calvin Klein.

Solid black tie by Kissties

Solid black tie by Kissties.

Black cap toe derby shoes by Golaiman

Black cap-toe derby shoes by Golaiman.

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.

how to wear black oxford dress shoes with black suit

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.

how to wear black monk strap dress shoes with black suit

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.

how to wear brown dress shoes with black suit pants

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.

Am I missing a combination? Feel free to add it in the comments below.

Alexander Stoicoff

Author: Alexander Stoicoff

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.

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