When you imagine a black dress shirt, what do you see?

It can conjure up a wide variety of images. Anything from a rock star, a cowboy, or maybe even a city dweller hanging out in his favorite coffee shop.

Perhaps you wonder how you can pull off a black dress shirt and still make it uniquely you.

The good news is that a black dress shirt is simple to incorporate into your wardrobe with rewarding results.

Best Black Dress Shirt Materials

Black dress shirts can easily veer into the realm of looking like a costume piece.

how to wear black dress shirt

To help prevent that notion, you want a quality, high-performance fabric that won’t look cheap.

Then, when your shirt is made from better material, you can wear it to more places.

Poplin is always a safe choice for a black dress shirt. It’s very popular, and for a good reason. It looks and feels good and is quite durable.

wearing black popling dress shirt

If you care for your poplin shirt properly, it will last you for years.

You can also opt for a blended fabric for your black dress shirt material.

A cotton blend with some lycra, for example, adds a bit of stretch to your dress shirt. This provides extra comfort and helps keep your dress shirt free from wrinkles.

wearing black cotton dress shirt

Bamboo is another excellent material to blend with cotton. Bamboo is impressive; it’s cooling and breathable, ensuring you don’t overheat. Plus, it’s crazy durable!

How to Wear a Black Dress Shirt with a Suit

The number one rule for wearing a black dress shirt with a suit is to keep your suit dark.

A black suit is ideal, although you can experiment with very thin pinstripes.

how to wear a black suit with a black dress shirt

Avoid pinstripes with substantial width, or you’ll risk looking like a Chicago gangster.

If you’re feeling adventurous and would like to try a lighter suit with a black dress shirt, a light grey suit would be acceptable.

how to wear light grey suit with black dress shirt

Avoid other light tones with your black dress shirt, such as tan, brown, or red. These shades are too strong and will wind up clashing with the dark-hued dress shirt.

That being said, charcoal grey suits are also a great option for black shirts.

how to wear black shirt with charcoal grey suit

You are free to skip a tie if you’re pairing a black dress shirt with a black suit.

But even if you decide to incorporate a tie into your outfit, you have limited options.

A black tie works best, keeping your entire outfit monochrome.

wearing black dress shirt with tie

You could also wear a tie with lighter stripes, such as grey or burgundy, for slight contrast.

A black dress shirt is usually not suitable for formal occasions. That doesn’t mean that it is strictly casual, though.

For example, a black tuxedo shirt with a black suit is an excellent outfit for a dressy cocktail party or a wedding.

how to wear black tuxedo shirt

It isn’t, however, ever appropriate for a professional or business setting.

Black Dress Shirt with Blazer and Pants

A black dress shirt can make a stunning addition to separates when you’re dressing up.

Wearing separates instead of a full suit is inherently a little more casual.

wearing a black dress shirt with light grey blazer and black pants

Including a black dress shirt as your base will add to the more relaxed appeal while also standing out as a rare choice.

To go this route, it’s best if you keep your blazer dark. But it’s best to avoid shades like brown, green, or blue.

Black trousers will look best for this outfit. Very dark denim is another good-looking choice with a blazer if you don’t mind a very relaxed approach.

wearing black trousers with black dress shirt

Grey is also perfect, with both charcoal as well as lighter grey representing equally fine choices.

Black Shirt with Dark Denim Jeans

Very deep blue denim jeans, in shades of navy or indigo, verge on the edge of dressy.

But, of course, denim will never, ever be a formal material. Although, if you are looking for a smart-casual outfit, you can never go wrong with very dark denim.

wearing dark denim with black shirt

Dark, well-fitted jeans are incredibly attractive when they’re paired with a button-down shirt, such as a black dress shirt.

However, they have a roguish charm, saying that you want to look nice, but don’t need to try too hard. This look is super simple but very chic.

You can wear a black dress shirt with dark denim for denim Fridays at work and impress your boss and coworkers with your superb fashion sense.

This outfit is also awesome for date night; keep your collar open and roll up your sleeves a bit for a more relaxed charm.

Shoes You Can Wear with a Black Dress Shirt

There’s only one acceptable color choice for your shoes when you’re wearing a black dress shirt with any of the above outfits.

If you guessed that it’s black, you are correct. Any other color would look weirdly out of place and will stand out terribly, distracting from all your other fantastic fashion choices.

You must avoid brown shoes, and definitely white ones, too.

However, if your shoes have some white or light brown trim along the soles, that could add some depth to your whole look as long as it’s a simple embellishment and doesn’t become the focus of your outfit.

The type of your shoes can define your style, so think about what vibe you want for your outfit.

For example, Oxford and derby shoes are ideal for dressy looks, while loafers say you feel relaxed and leisurely.

match black loafers with grey suit and black dress shirt

If you want a sophisticated look but not very formal, you can never fail with a pair of brogues.

But don’t overlook the popular Chelsea boot for an urban appeal to your outfit.

Styling the Black Dress Shirt

They say accessories make the man. I believe that it’s true, but they can also break the man.

If you don’t choose your side pieces wisely, you may sink an otherwise perfect outfit.

Minimalism is the key to a sensible outfit, especially when you’re dressed mostly in black.

Black can be an overwhelming color when you wear it from head to toe, so you don’t want to offend the senses with too many extras.

All leather on your body needs to be black. There’s no negotiating at this point.

add black leather watch and black leather bag

If you add a belt or a watch with a leather strap, make sure they are all the same color as your shoes. And as we established above, your shoes need to be black.

You don’t need to be completely somber in full black. You may want to add a splash of color with a tie or a pocket square.

matching the pocket square with a black dress shirt

Stick to general color rules; don’t overwhelm or compete with the deep black, but do aim for a slight contrast.

Do’s and Don’ts when Wearing a Black Shirt

The first important rule for this section is don’t let other people tell you that you can’t wear black because of your coloring. Anybody can pull off this universal color. Even pale and fair-haired, you can look fantastic in black.

Do add some modern touches to your black-on-black ensemble. For example, your suit lapels should be thin, and your black dress shirt collar should be narrow. A slim-fit suit jacket will also modernize your whole appearance.

Don’t pair any part of your black suit and black dress shirt with white. You might be tempted to wear a white tie or white suspenders to create the ultimate contrast, but please don’t. Likewise, avoid white accessories at all costs.

Do add some texture to your wardrobe, so you don’t appear utterly flat in head-to-toe black. For example, if you decide to add a black tie, try out a knitted one. Or a dark wool blazer is a great way to separate your garment pieces.

Don’t think that a baggy suit will be unnoticeable if it’s all black. Simply because your suit is dark doesn’t mean people won’t be able to see its contours well.

Do ensure that your suit is a perfect fit.

Don’t pile on the accessories. Black is such a basic and plain base. It would be a shame to detract from its simplicity.

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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