How To Wear All Black Without Looking Like An Extra From Your School Play

Our essential guide to mastering the black, black and black look.

BY Finlay Renwick | Oct 25, 2016 | Fashion


While it may seem like a look lacking in imagination, wearing nothing but black and wearing it well is one of the harder menswear moves to pull-off successfully; requiring a keen understanding of various cuts, shape, textures, fabric and trends.

Here we show you how to do it right, plus some pitfalls to avoid, lest you want to end up looking like a low-rent stagehand... or a bad goth... or a Matrix cosplayer... or...


1 | Be adventurous with fit

By choosing to dress in one colour, you're going to need to put extra emphasis on the way your clothes fit in order to add some creativity to an outfit.

Now's the time to experiment with baggier sweatshirts, wide-legged or cropped trousers and jackets with boxier cuts, or oversized overcoats. This will make your omission of colour appear cultivated, rather than lazy.

2 | Go heavier with your footwear

From left: Polished leather boots by Burberry, Cadet leather derby shoes by Common Projects.

Two of the big footwear trends of the season are crepe and commando soles on both derby shoes and military boots, with both styles lending themselves particularly well to an all-black aesthetic; adding heft and another element of texture to a moody get-up.

3 | Avoid black shirts

Forgive us Lord David

All-black may be versatile, but that grace rarely extends to the dreaded Black Shirt. If you are going to break this style rule, then please at least choose one in flannel or wool. There are few worse scenes than a black poplin shirt shimmering beneath the cold spotlights of a basement bar, inevitably worn by someone who thinks they look very, very suave.

4 | Mix up your fabrics

Along the lines of working with texture, another key to elevating your black outfit is to be conscious of what it's made of.

One of the few positives surrounding the soon-to-be dark days of winter is that it allows plenty of opportunity to wear whatever fabrics you want. 

Thick, textured jumpers in rough lambswool, melange overcoats, suede jackets and dark corduroy can all be mixed and matched to great effect when they're all the same colour.

5 | Know when to add contrast

This might be cheating somewhat considering the title and nature of this guide, but one of the biggest skills of all-black dressing is knowing when to add just a hint of colour and contrast to break up an outfit.

The key is to not play it too clever. Leave bright hues at home and instead incorporate slightly lighter shades of monochrome into accessories like socks, scarves, hats or a flash of silver or gold into your wristwear.

6 | Leave tailoring out of this


As well as black shirts, another definitive monochrome swerve arrives in the form of your tailoring. Some men think that a black shirt and tie looks super slick with a black suit (normally a three piece for some reason). Those men are wrong. You just end up looking like you got lost on the way to your 1998 prom.

Some pieces to help you on your way


Garret jacket by Acne.

Wool rich overcoat by Topman.

Short jackets


Taslon MA1 by MKI.


Knitted merino jacket by COS.



Sigred solid lambswool knit by Norse Projects.

Fine-knit cotton jumper by H&M.


Slim-fit drawstring cotton-corduroy trousers by Folk.

Relaxed turn-up trousers by COS.


From: Esquire UK