In the last few weeks The Rake has seen an influx of high-quality black tailoring. Menswear commentators will
generally tell you to keep things simple with a medium-weight wool, and advise against shiny-looking cloths such as
silk. Revolutionary yet traditional in his approach, Edward Sexton has never conformed to popular opinion. If there
is any tailor that can master the art of a black linen suit, it is the tailor to the likeminded avant-garde set.
Taking linen out of the equation, black suits fall short when they don’t have a silhouette that is sharp enough.
Adding a soupçon of rock ‘n’ roll is essential here, and with Sexton’s renowned
swaggering silhouette, he’s managed to turn Irish linen cloth into a devilishly cool summer masterpiece. With wide
peak lapels and a narrow waist, the jacket is undeniably elegant, but due its long patch pockets, which are a subtle
nod to a safari jacket, this creation is actually a tremendously versatile option. Wear with matching Sexton
trousers, white dress shirt from Turnbull & Asser, black herringbone silk tie from Cifonelli and black Michael
D-frame sunglasses from The Reference Library for a smart yet louche appearance – similar to the look that Marcello
Mastroianni donned in the film 8½, 1963. To tone it down a touch you could wear a knitted white T-shirt
underneath the jacket from Yuri & Yuri, and even some white sneakers that are not too bold. In a muted white,
John Lobb’s white calf leather plimsoll shoe is a casual option.
Cut from pure silk, Edward Sexton’s black point collar shirt is a nod to their rock ‘n’ roll affiliation. Not
necessarily silk, but black shirts have been donned with real pizzazz and panache by hedonistic musicians. Eric
Clapton, a famous client of Sexton often sported an open collar black shirt on stage with anything from a pale
waistcoat to a black jacket, whilst one of the most striking incorporations must be from Stray Cats drummer and
former husband of Britt Ekland, Slim Jim Phantom. Like Clapton, he unbuttoned the top three buttons, was clad in
jewellery – and paired the shirts with the most unique yet original suits that were relaxed fitting but not baggy.
They came in either an ivory colour or air force blue, both of which are shades that compliment black shirts. The
look was about as strong as it gets.
On the rugged stage of the American frontier, it was common to spot a silk shirt in contrast to the rest of the
surroundings. Donned countless times by Hollywood’s leading men in Western films, finding an authentic silk shirt to
replicate the ones in the motion pictures is no mean feat. Taking inspiration from the ‘satin’ Western shirts
typical of the ‘40s and ‘50s, Barbanera’s Mustang black vintage shirt which is a mixture between western-wear and
rockabilly style is likely to have been picked up by the big studio costume departments back then. The classic touch
of a point collar adds some subtle sophistication to the shirt, which gives you licence to be bold and wear it with
tailoring – and you could follow Sergio’s methods of doing things out of the ordinary by wearing a Western-printed
neckerchief with it – for some added rakishness. Not exactly tailoring as such - a special mention must go to the
brand’s black cotton waffle-knit Tuco Henley shirt, which would be a shrewd summer purchase.
Black tailoring, apart from black tie has largely been eschewed by the upper crust of society. Even Gianni Agnelli
and the Duke of Windsor were never really seen in the colour. Conceivably, the room for error might have been too
risky for these icons of menswear. Black, after all doesn’t work for everyone, as cited by Alan Flusser who says:
“Be careful wearing black, especially near the face. If you have medium brown hair and fair coloured skin, or a more
senior complexion of grey hair and light rosy skin, placing black under the chin can not only distract the eye but
dilute the skin’s natural pigmentation.” Conversely, he advises, “If you have a high-contrast complexion, meaning
your hair colour is dark against a white visage, black can help frame the face within a dark border while
invigorating the skin tones.” It sure works for Nick Cave and Robert Smith.
Despite it being the summer, black tie invitations are beginning to creep onto our dressers. Out of the blocks
quickly, Edward Sexton offer their first ready-to-wear dinner suits, which come in both a single-and double-breasted
guise. For a dinner jacket, that is a little less structured, you could head to De Petrillo, whilst fellow Italians
G. Inglese offer a black ruched tuxedo shirt to add some eccentricity to your outfit. In order to complete the
evening look, Serà Fine Silk produce charming black bow-tie iterations.
Elsewhere, there is tailored black shirts from shirting specialists Fralbo and Eton, whilst there’s a sumptuous
cotton sheen weekend shirt from Magnus & Novus.
If worn correctly black can be elegant, sexy, clean, and for something we’re feeling this summer a little rebellious.
The trick is to trust your instincts and decide what works for you. What we can say is that investing in black
attire from the most distinguished menswear brands will of course inspire you to wear more black, where there will
be less room for error, and more chance of feeling great in what you're wearing.