You don’t have to look farther than the designer glitterati to see how sharp a custom black suit can look when styled effectively. Icons like Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld and Michael Kors have all put their own twist on the look and made it somewhat of a uniform, yet one that’s anything but basic. It’s a simple go-to that can pack a lot of punch, but there are some guidelines that we suggest one adheres to so your look is more suave-gentleman-about-town and less like an undertaker sneaking out for a scotch. You’re in good hands here, so follow along while we outline some of these for you.
Your One Black Suit
Firstly, forget the custom black suit as potential office unless you work in a creative capacity like fashion or advertising. Or as a mobster. In a corporate setting, it can come across as austere and unwelcoming and is definitely not a shade that looks its best under natural daylight, which you’ll be surrounded by if you do your business between 9 and 5, like most people. If you want to wear black in the office, keep it to socks, shoes, ties and eyewear.
Conversely, if a custom black suit looks severe in the boardroom, it looks sophisticated and polished under, say, the dim lights of a wine bar or speakeasy. Since many events like wedding receptions and nights on the town happen during the evening hours, this is a perfect setting for it. While not an option for any event that requires “black tie” attire, a well-cut black suit is great for a semi-formal or “black tie optional” event.
Given the simplicity of this piece, a well-tailored cut is of the utmost importance. With a black suit, there’s simply no place to hide a bad fit; no jewel tones to distract or statement details to dazzle. We love a shoulder-hugging fit with a slim cut through the waist, seen here. For subtle variations, try a one-button jacket or a wide peak label for a bold silhouette.
Material-wise, we love a custom black suit made with mohair. Its subtle lustre makes for a dramatic look, yet it’s a fabric that’s extremely durable and doesn’t wrinkle, which is great for long nights at the casino that stretch into the wee hours of the morning.
You could also opt for a tropical wool or wool/cotton blend, which helps regulate heat and combats drink spills.
What’s the best way to style a simple black suit? Look anywhere from the icons of the menswear world to the moody, creative types like Johnny Cash and you’ll notice a trend: guys who look great in this suit keep everything else understated. Avoid flashy ties or extravagant cufflinks. Opt for black shoes and have them shined. Tom Ford often pairs his suit with a crisp white dress shirt, sometimes with a tie but more often with an open collar. It’s a look that is equally at home on the terrace at a late-night summer wedding reception, or in the back of a clandestine cocktail bar, once you’ve escaped said wedding reception.
Black on black can look extremely sharp as well, if executed correctly. The secret to pulling it off is to vary the texture within your ensemble, which adds definition. Try a crisp cotton shirt, wool-blend suit and a silk tie for an elegant, monochromatic look.
For events that call for a more dressed-down feel, pair your black suit with a patterned or printed shirt in a neutral tone, or even a t-shirt.
It may not be as versatile as navy or charcoal, but a black suit is versatile in its own way and makes a stylish and subtle statement. If you’ve got an event that doesn’t quite require hauling out the formalwear, but you still want a James-Bond-off-the-clock look, consider investing in this simple piece as a wardrobe staple.
TWILL CUSTOM BLACK SUIT
Looking for something sharp and contemporary? Our Classic 2-button black twill suit, woven from luxurious Super 140s worsted wool from Vitale Barberis Canonico, won’t disappoint. This one is perfect for evening formal happenings, such as wedding receptions, black tie optional events, and nights on the town.