what to wear with black shirt

Men's Black Shirts | How To Wear A Black Shirt

The mens black dress shirt is a unique piece of menswear that (if worn correctly) conveys a rugged and masculine confidence.  The man in black (aka Johnny Cash) owes his persona to this trademark look.  There are plenty of ‘faux pas’ that you could make with the black dress shirt, which we’ll try to guide you on.  The easiest guidance we can offer is — KEEP IT SIMPLE.

The Do’s and Don’ts for Mens Black Dress Shirts

  • DO pair a black dress shirt with other black garments, i.e. a blazer, slacks, jeans, shoes, etc…  As Johnny would attest, black goes great with black.  An all black look is certainly bold but it can be pulled off as recent Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali can attest.
  • Mahersala Ali in a mens black dress shirtMahershala Ali in an all black tuxedo at the 2019 Academy Awards 
  • DO NOT pair a black dress shirt with other darker tones, i.e. red, navy, dark green, brown, etc…  Black works well as a contrast.  As such, the worst contrast is with other darker tones.  The look below is cartoonish and perfect for a costume event but will otherwise get you laughed out of a room.

red suit with a mens black dress shirt

Do NOT wear a black dress shirt with other darker tones

  • DO pair a black dress shirt with dark denim.  The mens black dress shirt was meant to be worn with jeans.  It is a perfect combination and one the easiest and sleekest casual ensembles.  You can also go tucked or untucked.  For advise on the proper tucked shirt length, check out our Untucked Shirt Length Guide.

Black Bamboo / Cotton blend shirt w/ Dark Denim

  • DO wear a black dress shirt with a dark blazer.  It is a bold, clean look that you can use as a goto for any cocktail hour event.  Add a matching black tie for an even more formal look.

Black Blazer w/ Black Dress Shirt

  • DO NOT wear a black dress shirt with anything white. Whereas a white dress shirt goes perfect with a black tie / suspenders / suit / slacks, the same cannot be said for the opposite. A black dress shirt with a white tie is perfect if you’re an underworld figure from the 1920s. In any other era, it will just draw stares — and not the good kind.

mens black dress shirt with a white tie

Do NOT wear a black dress shirt with white accessories

  • DO wear a black dress shirt regardless of your skin tone / hair color.  A common, shortsighted belief is that those with lighter skin / hair should not wear a black dress shirt as the contrast is too “bold”.  We wholeheartedly disagree.  The model shown in many of our photos is obviously lighter skinned and has light brown hair.  We think he looks fantastic.  Don’t let a foolish and culturally ignorant opinion prevent you from wearing the look that you want to wear.

Metro Black Performance Stretch Shirt w/ an Italian Spread Collar

Our Favorite Mens Black Dress Shirts

The Formal Mens Black Dress Shirt

Metro Black Performance Dress Shirt

Fabric / Attributes:

This is one shirt every man should own.  Our performance stretch will drape you elegantly but also give you just a small amount of stretch that will not only provide ease but give you more of a fitted look that is not usually achievable with a traditional fabric.  The elegant Italian Spread collar pairs perfectly with this shirt and looks very dapper under a blazer.  Additionally, we paired this shirt with specialty cocktail cuffs that give the shirt a much more unique appearance.  As with all of the shirts here, we recommend either dry cleaning or machine washing on cold and then air drying. NEVER machine dry.  Dryers rob the shirts cotton of moisture which shorten their life.

Metro Black Performance Dress Shirt

Where to Buy It:

The Casual, All Purpose Mens Black Dress Shirt

Black Bamboo / Cotton Blend Dress Shirt

Fabric / Attributes:

Our bamboo / cotton blend is a unique fabric like no other we offer.  The bamboo weave provides benefits that you’re likely to only find on a dry fit / athletic shirt, i.e. moisture wicking, heat dissipation, and wrinkle resistance.   Though it can be worn formally, we prefer it for more casual settings.  In terms of attributes, this shirt comes with our classic English spread collar and 2 button square cut cuffs.  The other benefit of this shirt is it’s durability.  Bamboo has a life cycle almost 3x that of cotton.  As such, you can expect to wear this shirt 2–3x a week if necessary for several years.

Black Bamboo / Cotton Blend Dress Shirt

This is the question that came in today:

“I think there’s one thing missing from the basic shirts, a black one. I think black shirts always look very good and they have a little bit more ‘sex’ in them than light colored shirts.”

Well, it’s a good point. To some extent, I would have to say they nailed it there because black does symbolize – I mean, colors have symbols. Brown symbolizes trust and is a very earth color. White symbolizes cleanliness and there’s a reason why doctors wear white jackets.

Now, what do we think of when we see black? We think of mystery. We think of the bad guy. We think of rebellion. We think of the guy wearing the black leather jacket. There are certain things that come to mind. And it being a little bit sexier on the right person, I can see that.

So let’s go ahead and we’ll talk about the black shirt and I’ll talk about when I think it’s appropriate, and how you should wear it.Men’s Black Shirts – A Man’s Guide To The Black Shirt – Wearing Black Shirt Style Tipshttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.432.0_en.html#goog_2143268483Volume 90%  

The first rule with a black shirt is you need to have the complexion for it. Any man can wear a black shirt, but only men with dark hair and anywhere from medium to darker colored skin are really going to pull it off.

I’ll talk in part two about other men who wear it and what they wear it for even though it doesn’t complement them the best, but it’s going to be the dark-haired, dark-skinned man who can wear the color black the best. The reason is it’s not going to have a stark of a contrast and it’s just really not going to overpower his natural colors.https://65a92bed132cf10375a7d03605ee2a5e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

I have dark brown hair. Actually, I haven’t been in the sun too much. We’ve just started spring here in Wisconsin, but even with a good tan, I’m going to say black is a color that I can pull it off okay. But if I had black hair and the same colored skin, I would be able to kill it.

Because I would be mimicking the color in my hair and in my shirt here, and I would be in a sense framing the face properly which is the whole purpose of clothing. You want color to frame your face because that’s where you want people focused at when they’re communicating with you.

Now, let’s say you have light colored hair and light colored skin, “When can I wear black? Can I even wear black?” Yes, you can when you want to isolate the face. One of the most famous examples is Steve Jobs and his black turtleneck. He’s up on a big stage.Photo credits: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs

Photo credits: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs

They’re zooming in on him and he doesn’t want any other focus except at on his face, his expressions as he was selling his products, as he was making a point, as he was trying to inspire. You see a lot of men who do have lighter features trying to pull off a black shirt and the whole idea, especially with a dark background, is it’s going to, boom, all of a sudden, we’re going to zero in on the face.https://65a92bed132cf10375a7d03605ee2a5e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Another good example is the Blue Man Show in Vegas. Those guys are very good about isolating a blue face and they do it with the color black because black, as you artists know and anyone that deals with light, black just sucks up and absorbs all light and just doesn’t reflect it back.

Let’s talk about colored versus uncolored black shirts. Either way, it’s going to send very similar signals, but a color black shirt is always going to be less formal than a white or a light colored dress shirt. So if you’re wearing it with your suit or  sports jacket, it is going to be less formal than a lighter colored jacket, even if it’s solid.

Now, if you’re wearing it without a collar, it could actually still look pretty good especially if it’s a solid black. I’ve pulled this off. The key with wearing it though with any type of jacket is I think there should be a contrast or you should be wearing something black. Some guys like the black on black look and a guy pulled it off amazingly.

I mean, just look at vintage photos or even up until his unfortunate death, Johnny Cash, the man in black. He was a great example of a man that pulled this off. Here’s a guy that played in Folsom Prison. Actually I can’t remember the rest of the other prisons he played at but I know he did the Folsom Prison.

This is the kind of guy that is going into prisons and playing for a pretty rough crowd, having a great time, but wanting to send a little bit of a message that he is a rebel, that he is outside. I think he even talked about in Nashville at the time a lot of people were wearing lighter colors. Here’s a guy that shows up in just dark colors and trying to create a bit of mystery and he did a great job pulling it off.

I’ve seen this overdone though a lot of times. If you’ve got a very light-colored face, it’s just going to make your head really stand out, so you want to be careful with that look. You need to be a little bit more style advanced. If you’re going to try to introduce a black shirt, I think you should go for something that is matching it with something that’s clearly not black.

What do I mean by that? I mean don’t try to match it with a navy suit because it’s close enough that some people may wonder, “Well, does he know that they’re different colors?” Instead, go for a light tan or a Houndstooth jacket, a sports jacket that is white and black.

So clearly you can see that this does not match exactly, but there’s enough of a contrast. And if you’re going in the same color scheme, you could mix it with greys, so black shirt with grey trousers or grey jacket. That is better than trying to go with anything in the navy.

You can go with charcoal and that’s an okay look, but I like it whenever the grey is lighter because again, we’re going to see a little bit of the contrast between the fabrics. Again, to get it too close and it’s not exactly close, that’s when it starts to look bad.

Alright, so I’ve given you quite a bit on black. I would say touching on collarless black shirts, I didn’t get into that too much. I think if it’s made from fine-woven cotton, it can have a wool cotton mix. You can go with a few blends wearing that underneath. I’ve even got a synthetic, which is a performance shirt made by JUZD Streetwear.


They make some really nice clothing that I’ve worn in the clubs when I was down South by Southwest and I don’t really get too many options to wear here in Wisconsin, but I think something like that you can pull off, especially when it’s solid or if it’s got a little bit of color introduced on the side.

That was my little bit about black shirts. I hope it helps!

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