I have envisioned this week’s blog post with a didactic purpose in mind: I would like to share with you 5 powerful rules on how to combine a superior black outfit.
Before the rules, however, a little introduction is due.
Black is cool, obviously. Everybody likes black. Perhaps is because it’s the darkest possible color. Black is the most complete absence of light you could possibly imagine. Actually, you can’t even imagine absolute black as much as you can’t imagine nothingness. Black is also the exact opposite of White. It’s almost a theological concept, one thing is either Black or White. When Black and White deviate even slightly from the scale of achromatic colors, they become chromatic colors. To be precise, Black and White aren’t even colors: they are, in fact, “achromatic colors”.
The opposites achromatic colors have only one thing in common: the absence of hue. Isn’t it ironic? The only thing Black and White have in common is actually the absence of something. The Chinese Tao is the literally the biggest lie ever: there is no light in darkness and vice-versa.
Black, White and Gray are neutral colors, or non-colors. Contrary to what most people believe, being able to mix these colors isn’t actually as easy as it may seem.
And now the rules!
Rule number 1 – Be careful!
Since by combining Black and White together in one single outfit (let’s say black shirt, white pants), you would obtain the most striking contrasting effect possible, you need to be careful. I’m not saying that Black and White can’t go together because, in reality, this combination is quite elegant. If you think about it, the most elegant outfit a gentleman could wear is a Black tuxedo over a White shirt, and then a Black bowtie and a White boutonniere. In this case, your shoes would be also Black and the top hat and the overcoat as well!
Rule number 2 – Use sparingly!
One of my favorite Italian saying goes like this: “un bel gioco dura poco”. It means, literally, “a beautiful game is a short game”. All extremes are daring and bold. If you are too daring and too bold for too long, you become boring and predictable. Reserve Black and White for special days, whether sad or joyful.
Rule number 3 – Be wise! Do not wear an outfit which is made solely of Black elements, or vice-versa: it’s really too much. With the possible exception of the bride during her wedding day, nobody should ever be dressed in a completely Black (or White) suit or outfit, not even at a funeral! In fact, in that case, you should be wearing a Black suit (or a charcoal suit) and Black tie, but your shirt should be White. Avoid Black shirts in general: they are in bad taste because they subliminally remind people of Fascism and Nazism. Red shirts are also a no-no.
Rule number 4 – Always take into consideration your overall complexion, your skin tone, the color of your hair, eyebrows and eyes! If you don’t have hair, or you if you shave your head, that counts for blonde. Let’s make an example: if you are a black man, try to avoid Black as much as possible. If, on the contrary, you’re a blonde caucasian with blue eyes and white skin, try to avoid White. The lack of contrast between your overall complexion and the colors of your clothes will make you look inconsistent and uninteresting.
Rule number 5 – Do not mix bold colors with Black. Colors such as Yellow, Red, Blue, Green and Orange, for example, should never be used in combination with Black elements of your outfit. There is a reason why wasps are striped in Black and Yellow: they are sending out a message to the world: “we are dangerous, we sting! Don’t come close!” The combination of Black and other bold colors is what they call “a punch in the eye”. Even if we are dealing with casual outfits, these sorts of color schemes must be avoided at all costs.
Here I put together a casual outfit for less than 200 euros using mainly shades of Black and Grey, just to show you that there is nothing wrong with mixing achromatic colors, as long as you know what you’re doing.
The inspiration for this outfit came from Social Media: while browsing through my Instagram feed I stumble daily upon pictures of young guys dressed in black from head to toe. Sometimes, in the worst case scenarios, they even wear distressed jeans with cuts on their knees or thighs.
These sorts of casual outfits are trending. Blame it on the Emo generation or on bad taste, but that’s the way it is. The worst thing, however, is that this despicable trend is also invading the universe of Formal outfits. I have indeed also stumbled upon Instagram posts portraying models in Black suits, with Black ties and dark shirts… And no: unfortunately it wasn’t some sort of early stage shot from Man in Black 4.
I think that the main element of my outfit, this time, are the jeans, not the jacket.
We are dealing with a nice pair of skinny Cheap Mondays in Space Shuttle Grey. These sorts of jeans must be worn tight, but be careful: first of all, you need to be in great shape and have straight legs to wear them… second, you can’t wear them if you are older than 40. This pair of jeans might look uncomfortable, but that’s not the case! Thanks to the elastane…
The Black motorbike jacket by Blend is the second most important element of this outfit. If you look closely you would notice that the front is perforated. The one thing you probably wouldn’t notice, however, is the fact that we are dealing with synthetic leather. It’s really that good: you can’t tell it from the real thing unless you know the price. (It’s a huge a bargain).
The button down cotton shirt in Dove Grey with geometric micro patterns is also by Blend, I picked this one because of its color, but also because of the micro patterns: when you put together a pair of grey jeans and a Black jacket, you want to add a little twist by bringing in some interesting textures and/or patterns. If you don’t do this, the outfit would look dull.
The sneakers are a pair of Everelast Stan Smiths in black leather. They really fit the role here, not just because they are Black, but also because they are perforated on the side and so they complement the jacket perfectly. I didn’t go for a pair of Gray sneakers because the jeans are Gray. But the Stan Smiths are a classic and they keep this outfit in place. I didn’t use trainers because that would have looked a little too sporty. Yes, we are dealing with a casual outfit but… it’s already a bit too daring for me. Let’s say it’s borderline: I wouldn’t wear this same outfit two years from now. But I still like it today.
I’ll tell you about the last three elements in one paragraph. I bought the beanie in New York, it’s a simple, black and gray NY Yankees beanie in wool, but at least it has a story. The sunglasses are a rarity: we are talking about a pair of Giugiaro Designs from the late 1980s. I think they fit the spirit of the outfit perfectly. And then there is the wristwatch. I picked my favorite watch, a vintage Rolex Oyster Date from the late 1970s. I got it from my father: it is the only way you can acquire a Rolex. A Rolex can’t be bought, it must be acquired through paternal lineage. Any other luxury watch can be bought, but not a Rolex.
So, to summarize: this how to Combine a Superior Black Outfit: Be careful, use Black sparingly, be wise, take your overall complexion into consideration, and whatever you do: do not mix Black with bold colors such as red, blue, and yellow! Contact me if you need advice, comment if you have something interesting to add to this topic and do please share this blog post if you can!
Prices breakdown in Euro (Sale):
Hat 19,99 (Dollars)
COLOR SCHEME FOR THIS OUTFIT