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The Compass  /  Style  /  What To Wear With A Black Shirt

What To Wear With A Black Shirt

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First things first. Before we get to what to wear with a black shirt, let’s set down a couple of ground rules. Here’s what NOT do with a black shirt.

1. Don’t wear it to the office

Black shirts are casual shirts. Yes, you may have seen some guys wearing them to the office. Not to stereotype but they’re probably in the IT department.

2. Don’t wear a tie

Because black shirts are casual, they don’t lend themselves to being worn well with ties. Furthermore, your tie shouldn’t be lighter than your shirt or you start to look like you’ve got on a 30s gangster costume. So we say skip the tie altogether with a black shirt.

3. Don’t go overboard with the black

The blackout look—a black shirt with a black suit with black socks and black shoes—is okay, but a little predictable in our book. It’s time to mix things up.

Okay, whew, now that we’ve gotten that off our chests we can move on to what we’re all here for, the answer to the question…


What to Wear With a Black Shirt

There are two basic approaches to figuring out what to wear with a black shirt. The first is a monochromatic approach. Mono-what now? Don’t worry we’ll explain that below. The second approach is to use the black shirt to create contrast.

Deep-Burgundy-and-Gray-Rivington

The Deep Burgundy Custom Suit and Rivington Gray Custom Suit by Black Lapel.

You can see how these approaches look in the photo above. Now, let’s break down what makes these looks work.

What to Wear With a Black Shirt For A Minimalist Look

Gray-Rivington

The Black Solid Broadcloth Custom Shirt and Rivington Gray Custom Suit by Black Lapel.

We’re overachievers here at Black Lapel, so we never thought we’d be advising anyone to do the minimum, yet here goes. That word that we used above: monochromatic. It means consisting of only one color. When black is in the outfit, it’s monochromatic if it’s made up of only black and shades of gray, like this Rivington Gray suit with a black shirt.

Using the fewest possible colors is a surefire way to put together a cohesive look. This is a key point that the average guy misses when getting dressed: when it comes to color, a little restraint can go a long way.

What to Wear With a Black Shirt When You Want to Stand Out

Red-Burgundy

The Black Solid Broadcloth Custom Shirt and Deep Burgundy Custom Suit by Black Lapel.

For a more advanced move, try pairing a black shirt with a strong color, like red, in a muted saturation, like burgundy. The result is what you see above. Why is this an advanced move? It takes a good eye to find the right amount of saturation. Too strong of a color and you end up with a jarring contrast with the black, like yellow with black. Too weak of a color and you end up with a muddled combination, like navy and black.How to strike the right balance? Nothing beats a mirror. You can discuss color combinations until you’re blue in the face but the best way to know whether a color combination works for you is to try it on in front of a mirror. Of course, if you want to try on this combination, you’ll have to check out the new deep burgundy suit for yourself.


Your Turn

So if you’ve been wondering what to wear with a black shirt, you should be inspired and encouraged by what you’ve read. Want to get the look? Choose the suits or shirt below to learn more.

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18 thoughts on “What To Wear With A Black Shirt”

  1. Sir, still not clear regarding the chinos and shoes ..
    Do we have an alternate choice than grey or black chinos ??
    Black shirt grey blazer !!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sorry Gurjant, but the way we showed above is the way we recommend wearing a black shirt. We didn’t give a recommendation on blazers or chinos because we don’t recommend wearing a black shirt with a blazer and chinos.

      As you saw with all the “Don’ts” at the top of this article, a black shirt is pretty limiting. We’re not saying you can’t wear it the way you described, we just don’t have a recommendation since we wouldn’t wear it that way. We’ve got a strict “don’t recommend it if you wouldn’t wear it yourself” rule around here.

      1. Thank you sir 😊

  2. And i forgot to ask, can the black shirt have button-down collars with grey blazer 🤔

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sure, a black shirt can have a button-down collar. That’s just a personal preference. If you like it, why not?

  3. abhijeet gourishetty says:

    Hello blacklapel, i have a black shirt and a light grey(somewhat like silver) color blazer, Can u please suggest me which color trousers should i wear and also on the shoes.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Good call on the gray blazer. If you have the matching pair of pants to make a full suit, we suggest you wear those and nice black dress shoes. If not, a pair of black slacks is next best. Again, stick with black shoes.

  4. Gregory Montes says:

    Black and Burgundy is killer! I can imagine myself wearing that. Anything lighter than Burgundy you will look like a circus magician.

    1. Glad to hear it Gregory. You know, if you act quickly, you can order that Black shirt and Deep Burgundy suit and you won’t have to imagine yourself wearing them.

      Hit up one of our stylists if you’d like any help getting them at concierge@blacklapel.com.

  5. Good article. You could use a black shirt with black trouser, charcoal trouser or dark wash jeans? What types of knitwear?
    Any recommendations for use with cardigans and sweaters. Saludos.

    1. Yes to the first question, Fabian. All of the pants you mentioned would work.

      As for the knitwear, that’s a trickier look to pull off. The rule of thumb we cited above about not wearing a tie that’s lighter than your shirt, could also be applied to a sweater. A light colored sweater atop a black shirt is going to look a bit loud because of the contrast of the color and the black. A black sweater atop a black shirt is okay, but can kill the inherent cool of the black shirt by covering it up with more black.

      But even more important than color is the texture. The reason why the shirts and suits we featured above look so good is the harmony between the smooth cotton shirt and the smooth wool suits. When you mix in the rougher textures of sweaters, the whole look may suffer.

      As with everything we publish, take all of this advice with a grain of salt. There are exceptions to every rule, but our advice is to avoid knitwear with black shirts.

  6. I’m inclined to disagree that a black shirt is inherently casual… The fabric and details tend push shirts to one end of the spectrum, vs. the other, not the color necessarily. That said, it’s much easier to style a black shirt casually, you need to tread carefully if you want to take one down the more formal route…

    If you’re willing to go the formal route with a black shirt, you can use it basically, the same as you would a white one (and no I don’t work in IT…)… I tended to use a black shirt (my favorite one, finally bit the dust) in two main ways (it was very much styled the way a workhorse white shirt would be, semi spread collar, no pockets, slim). With a medium grey suit, paired with a tie (this would vary seasonally, but my favorite was to throw in something bold (either in color or in pattern)), or sans-tie, usually with a navy or royal blue suit… While I’d suggest steering clear if you’re at a law firm or in finance, if you’re in one of the many modern work settings, where the standards of dress for most gents is pretty low, you can easily run with formal black and still be the best dressed guy in the place…

    1. Sure, Adam, it can be done. Perhaps it’s a matter of context. Many Black Lapel customers do work in law and finance where, as you suggested, this is not an appropriate look.

      If only our publication were as custom as our suits we’d be able to speak to everyone’s workplace dress. Alas, sometimes we still have to speak to the majority and for the majority of our guys, we would not recommend wearing a black shirt and tie to the office.

  7. I love black shirts as they are flattering to the figure and forgiving to the odd mark you are bound to pick up during the day, so delighted to read your comments. As I am a fan of suspenders, do you have any tips on what colours to wear with a black shirt and maroon suit?

    1. Glad to have drawn your interest. A maroon suit with a black shirt (like the outfit above) isn’t meant to be a formal look and, in our opinion, suspenders add formality. We typically only pair suspenders with a tie or bow tie too, but we don’t recommend a tie for this outfit. So if you use suspenders for utility purposes (aka to hold up your pants), then just opt for black ones. If you’re a fan of suspenders because they’re stylish, a maroon pair to match the suit is the best way to go.

  8. Ravi Roshan Jaiswal says:

    Hi there,

    I love to read such an awesome and informative post who suggest very well on men’s dressing style. Reading this article, my confusion is clear that how and what to wear? Without having a proper knowledge we shouldn’t wear a not matching dress and I do so. Here, you have guided very well that is what to wear with a black shirt, that’s amazing for me, indeed.

    I got impressed looking deep burgundy custom suit really, it’s design is amazing. I had no experience that how to match tie, suit and shirt but reading this article, I knew about it very well. Black colored shirt is always my favorite and feel pleasure to wear black shirt in special occation.

    Thanks for the informative post on trendy fashion season.
    – Ravi.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      So glad we were able to help, Ravi. This article is for guys like you who just need a little inspiration. If you want any more info on the suits or the shirt, check out BlackLapel.com

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