Back in Black

Contrary to popular opinion, wearing black well can be a complicated matter. We asked the experts for their advice on working sartorial black magic.

Portrait of Nick Cave (Photo by Joe Dilworth/Photoshot/Getty Images).

German industrial designers. Dour British goths. Brooklyn installation artists. West Coast gangsta rappers. Japanese fashionistas. Grieving Greek grandmothers. San Fran start-up founders. The entire population of Melbourne. There are many people out there who believe wearing a preponderance of black is the simplest of solutions to life’s sartorial quandaries.

In fact, successfully carrying off black — particularly, what the bard called ‘all black everything’ — isn’t as easy as one might assume. First of all, thinking black garments unfailingly match one another is a grave error in judgment. True black is an absence of colour and light, but the blacks that textile-makers produce invariably integrate inky shades of blue, brown, green, purple and so on. In the light of day or under harsh artificial illumination, your black jeans, tee, leather jacket and shoes will very likely all have slightly different hues.

Speaking of light’s effect on black, it has long been taken as gospel among menswear aficionados that midnight blue is the superior choice for tuxedos, the belief being that black can take on a brown cast in the brilliance of a ballroom. But conditions have changed, says Mark Cho of The Armoury. “For tuxedos, I prefer black to midnight blue. Indoor lighting used to be yellower, back when people were mainly using tungsten bulbs, and midnight navy made sense in those situations,” Cho points out. “But a lot more people are using LED lighting now, and I find black looks better instead.”

    Published

    January 2020

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