This note arrived in the Kempt inbox this morning, concerning the state of the black suit:

I was after some advice with a black suit. I want to wear it for numerous parties over Christmas period but I want it to be versatile to wear out and about. To be honest I can’t tell what makes a great black suit from a bad one.

This is a tricky one, as the black suit is the subject of much debate. Here’s our advice.

For starters, what makes a great black suit is pretty much what makes any great suit: fit, construction and generally feeling comfortable and at-home when you wear it.

Having said that, the black suit is tougher to pull off than it seems. It can make your skin look pale, shows off dust and makes you seem as if you just came from a funeral. Luckily, you’re not wearing it during the day—black suits are particularly tough in the sunlight—but it’s still an essentially un-festive item.

But if you’re genuinely into this suit, your task is making it a little more festive. That means no white shirt/black tie combos (the tuxedo/pallbearer vibe comes from that jolt of contrast). The idea is to warm things up, making the flat color less harsh, so head for a more holiday-friendly shirt like this one. The same goes for your tie and shoes. We recommend these Del Toro slippers for a particularly loose vibe, and if you feel up to a bow tie, this one’s perfect for the job.

Good luck, sir, and godspeed.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom