In a previous installment of Style NOPE! we admonished the practice of tucking in your t-shirt. This advice was a bit controversial as many other men’s style experts see nothing wrong with a tucked in t-shirt.
Needless to say we still stand by our judgement on that one.
It’s in speaking of controversy that I bring up the topic of discussion for this installment of Style NOPE!
In this edition I want to discuss the colour black, specifically its misuses and abuses – a topic that will no doubt have its opposition.
Back when I didn’t have a clue about men’s style, if you were to ask me what my favourite colour to wear was I would have said black with little hesitation. The colour black permeated my wardrobe. I had black coats, black t-shirts, black trousers, black sweaters etc. You name an article of clothing and I’m willing to bet I had it in black!
Like most men I made the default assumption that black looked good with everything and that I could wear it all the time. What can I say, I didn’t know any better! Furthermore, like the majority of men I stayed clear of experimenting with colour in my wardrobe for fearing of being judged or looking too “metro”. I didn’t want to stand out from the crowd. To me black was simple and allowed me to blend inconspicuously into my surroundings.
Since then I have learned a lot about men’s style and the error of my ways.
The problem is that a lot of men forget that black is a colour that is most appropriate in the evening time or for formal occasions (e.g. black tie events, evening dinner parties, formal dances, balls, and galas etc.). That’s because the colour black inherently signifies a sense of seriousness and gravity. There’s a reason why people wear black at funerals.
You have to remember that when it comes to style it’s all about using your appearance to send the right signals at the right time. That’s why I find it a bit jarring to see men walking around during the day wearing black business suits. I’m certain most of them are not going to funerals or some other formal function. Same thing goes with all of the black dress shirts I see during the day. They look too formal for the daylight hours. I have not seen many men pull this look off effectively. In my opinion these shirts are best left for when the sun goes down and you’re getting ready for a night on the town.
Another common misconception guys have about black is that it looks good on everyone. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Black looks best on men with high levels of contrast between their skin and hair tone. In other words, men with dark hair and light skin will look immensely better wearing black than men with a more muted complexion (i.e. blonde or red hair with light skin). For the latter group, black will do nothing more than wash them out. In fact, these men will often look downright garish when wearing too much black.
But don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should NEVER wear black. There are certainly many occasions in which wearing black would not only be appropriate but necessary (think about those formal events I described above).
The problem I have with black is that guys often default to it because they are too afraid to try something different. Black is a default colour for most men because it requires very little thinking. Although we have yet to write our guide on how to effectively combine and wear different colours, men need to understand that there are many more shades in existence other than black.
For those guys who want to ditch the black but don’t know where to start, I highly recommend you replace some of it in your wardrobe with charcoal grey and/or navy. So instead of wearing a black suit, wear a navy one. Instead of wearing a black coat, opt for something in charcoal grey etc. These shades are immensely more versatile than black while still allowing you to remain relatively conservative. The key is to start slow; there’s no need for you to immediately dive into the rainbow.
Now that we are transitioning into the winter season you will no doubt see men wearing more and more black. I think it’s the perfect time for you to begin to wean yourself off this overused and abused colour. Just remember to start off slow, perhaps by replacing an old black winter coat with a navy one instead.
Black is a colour that is much used and abused by men. The fact is that most men often opt for black garments because it allows them to blend in with the legions of other men too afraid to drawn any attention with their clothing. Black also doesn’t require much thinking since it can be worn with almost anything. This makes black a seductive choice for both the style impaired and style lazy.
That’s why I want you to resist the temptation of black garments. If you include them in your wardrobe, only do so sparingly. Make sure you wear them at the right moments (in the evening or at formal occasions). If you are a man with a more muted complexion, think about eliminating black from your wardrobe entirely, save for those few occasions where it is required (e.g. funerals, black tie events etc.).
Make the transition; you’ll be glad you did.
Here’s to looking sharp!