Nothing can match the timeless allure of stark black tailoring. A black suit is the masculine equivalent of an LBD, a classic go-to. It’s also the best sartorial weapon to break the clutter of maximalist pieces in one’s closet.
The revamped funeral suit first made its presence felt in Fall 2019 collections when designer Kim Jones at Dior Men dressed his models in a panoply of noir suits elegantly fastened with a sash as they glided on a conveyor belt runway. Prada, too, embraced black suiting’s austerity by showcasing a three-button blazer, styled with a buckled belt around the waist. Soon black-on-black layering could be seen at Neil Barrett, Dolce & Gabbana, DSquared 2, Versace and Pal Zileri.
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Cut to 2022 and one is spoilt for choice when it comes to black tailoring. Dior Men, Canali, Louis Vuitton and Hermès showcased towards the end of 2021. While Dior’s Tailleur Oblique comes bejewelled with accessories, Louis Vuitton’s take is more sportified. In India, actor Sidharth Malhotra was recently seen in a Kunal Rawal black textured fire motif embroidered sherwani worn with matching black breeches, and actor Abhishek Bachchan looked dapper in a black Tom Ford as he attended a brand event in Paris last month.
Designer Raghavendra Rathore, who has often dressed actor Saif Ali Khan in his signature black bandhgala, says, “The beauty of black is that it is said to be the most neutral colour for both creators, stylists, designers and clients who love to have a more diverse wardrobe.... The most important aspect of the colour black, and especially through a tailored lens, is that it can combine very easily with almost any colour or accessory.”
For Rathore, a well-tailored look implies a good cut, a fabric that moulds well, with the overall look enhancing one’s personality without overshadowing it. “The fact of how comfortably one puts together the tailored look is key. Stay away from contrived looks and welcome the classic,” he suggests.
Designer Rachit Khanna keeps in mind a statement once attributed to Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto: “Black says: I don’t bother you—don’t bother me.”
“The last two pandemic-struck years have made a well-fitted black suit an essential investment for the wardrobe. It’s timeless, powerful and just right. Noir suit’s resurgence is all about the versatility of it, you can just wear it for almost any occasion. Play with tones, textures, cuts and length, a designer’s dream,” says Khanna, who likes to design black suits with tone-on-tone embroidery.
Given the hot and oppressive Indian weather most of the year, it’s crucial to pick a black suit in soft, summer fabrics. Stylist Divyak D’Souza says: “For the Indian market, you can’t do much layering for spring/summer. Having said that, I would recommend playing with texture and picking sustainable fabrics like black mulmul, cotton jamdani weaves—summery, more fluid and airy.
“Moreover, contrast textures in the entire ensemble. Team a pair of shorts with black mulmul shirts, without making it too dark or hot. Pick accessories in more versatile colours. Finish off the look with either calfskin loafers or a pair of open-toe sandals. Inject some white, ivory or ecru, maybe with a layer or an accessory. There has to be a correct blend of drama.”
Black suits, when worn correctly, flatter all body types and have a season-less appeal. Stylist Akshay Tyagi hails them as “chic and timeless. As they say, ‘once you go black, you can’t go back.’”
For a brunch, pick a variation in light fabric and wear it with matching accessories. Opt for a black overcoat for a winter wedding or a monotone sherwani or a black jacket with a hint of print. A long black trench coat or a three-piece suit or a variation with pinstripes or with some bling on the collar could be other options. Offset it with a cross-body bag or a carry-all tote and you are good to go.
Black plays out like an empty canvas offering one freedom to add or subtract whatever one wants depending on one’s mood. Stylist Edward Lalrempuia suggests styling black tailoring with something statement-making, like a pair of striking shoes. “I would personally like to team it with a pair of white sneakers. I would also recommend the addition of some genderless gold jewellery like necklaces and earrings. Complete the look with a sparkly handbag.”
He suggests picking a black suit with a relaxed fit. “Languid fit in tailoring is going to stay. Even if you opt for a piece in a rigid structure, pair it with something relaxed, loose, and make it more street as opposed to stuffy. There are many ways to play with a black suit. That’s the beauty of it.”
Manish Mishra is a fashion journalist and a content creator.
Also read: Why the bandhgala is for work and play