How to Embrace Charcoal 

Here’s how to scale up on your grey attire to build a sophisticated winter wardrobe.

It’s a slow burn. Charcoal doesn’t shout, it doesn’t immediately catch your eye. Yet deep grey tones have much to offer the modern man. For a colour named after an ancient fuel, it’s surprisingly contemporary. In the fifties, The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit evoked an establishment man, the diligent but unexciting heart of corporate AmericaNow that the twin forces of conformity and informality have driven business and political leaders into sartorial no man’s land, stuck in identical navy suits and tieless white shirts, charcoal is no longer a thoughtless default. It’s a sign of quiet sophistication. 

Despite being so close to black, charcoal has amazing tonal range. You might think it would result in a gloomy appearance, but charcoal is soft without being dull. Just look at the charcoal sketches by Henri Matisse and you’ll see what I mean: the light gleams off those beautiful, rounded, warm bodies. And the same is true of clothes: in tailoring, charcoal is flattering; in well-fitting knitwear, it’s downright enticing. Here are a few ways to make the most of it. 


Alexander Freeling


October 2019