Thanks to all who entered our Ministry of Supply giveaway last week. It was a big one! In case you missed it, here’s the post.

Our five winners have been contacted: dpd75, rachman. noor, kostka. fex, martinbcalder, mr. renelucha.

You should be receiving your prizes from us very soon!

I’ve had a bit of an obsession with wearing black clothing since moving to NYC, and I’m not completely sure why.

On the sunny West Coast, I never wore black. I owned one pair of black chinos which rarely saw the outside of my closet. I only recently bought a pair of black lace-ups for formal occasions.

Even though I’ve written many times about not defaulting to black, there’s something about the city that inspires you to wear it. Maybe it’s that gritty, concrete jungle vibe, or perhaps it’s the onset of winter.

Either way, I’ve been experimenting, and in case you want to as well, here are some pointers.


You can click the photo above to enlarge it (opens in a new window).

From left to right, top to bottom:

First, Fit

Fit is always the first thing you must think about. If you’re buying your first piece of black clothing, whether it be a pair of denim or a T-shirt, make sure the fit is spot on.

Start With One Item

If you’re not sure how to incorporate black into your wardrobe, start with one item, like a T-shirt, polo, or pair of denim. For the sake of simplicity, the above example is focused on a pair of black jeans.

If you look around (both online and in real life) you’ll be able to find a pair that fits you great. Here are just a few options:

Black Jeans | How to Wear & What to Wear With & Where to Buy

Just like with other elements of your Lean Wardrobe, don’t feel like you have to pick up multiple items at once. Take your time and buy only what’s necessary.

Don’t Wear Head-To-Toe Black

Though sleek, chic, and really easy to match, it’s a bit unimaginative. Unless you’re a club bouncer, an undertaker, a priest, or Kanye West on tour, mix in a bit of color in your day to day.

Wear Head-To-Toe Black

Do it even if the above point says not to, because it’s sleek, chic, and not to mention, really easy to match. Plus, in some places like New York, and (I imagine) Paris, it just works.

Even if you’re not living in either of these cities and you still like the sleek all-black look, by all means, try it out.

Go Tonal

Let’s say you don’t want to go the “all black everything” route. A great alternative would be to wear varying shades.

With black denim as your base, for example, try charcoal, heather gray, or white up top and on your feet. It’s hard to go wrong in this instance, so feel free to experiment.

Black + Navy, Black + Brown

I’m not sure where or how the rule started that you can’t wear brown or navy blue with black. You can successfully pull this off, and I do it all the time.

If you regularly wear dark, raw denim, it’s easy to make the transition to black. But if you’re still having a hard time, try a white OCBD or a bold navy stripe shirt with your black jeans as a segue. Simple.

black_denim_metro_manWhite or light-colored shoes help break up the heaviness down below, so consider that high contrast with your footwear.

When it comes to wearing brown with black, the trick is in finding the right shade of brown. So with leather shoes, consider lighter shades, such as tan, cognac, or natural. Even a medium brown would work well with black.

Bringing in other warm colors makes it easier to pull off brown with black. For example, a burgundy sweater would pair nicely with black pants and tan loafers.

What About Shoes?

Treat black like white, in that it goes with practically anything and everything.

black_chippewaBlack is your most obvious choice.

You can also go with gray or white, as well as any combination of the three. There’s also the aforementioned cognac (or tan) leather.

It may help to find black shoes that aren’t just black.

Maybe they have a natural sole, or contrast stitching.

If you’re wearing black formally — anything from black slacks to a full tuxedo — it’s best to stick with an all black shoe.

How do you wear black?

Hopefully this helps you incorporate black into your wardrobe more easily.

If you’re like me and have mostly stayed away from black, I’d start with a pair of black denim; that way, you already have a starting point using the diagram above.

If you’ve already picked up a pair of dark blue denim, a black pair won’t be that much of a stretch anyway. Start here for some inspiration.

If you have any questions about wearing black, or have picked up a few tips along the way, I’d love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below.


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18 Responses

  1. Tim Paige on

    Even though I’m super bummed I didn’t win — I LOVE this post. I do have a fair amount of black, and I’m always worried about looking like Mr. Doom and Gloom, haha.

    • Barron on

      Right? Isn’t it weird? I would never touch a pair of black denim in CA. For some reason it’s getting more and more wear, especially as the weather is changing.

  2. Arkhangael on

    A black suit over an impeccable white shirt is my favorite outfit. In fact, it is what I mostly wear, although I try pastels. It’s mostly a matter of personal taste and a habit that has grown.
    Ladies do prefer lighter shades on me, but they also admire the uniformity of the black look.
    Yes, I do get dubbed the undertaker, but just like people who would invariably wear black and not worry about it (imagine Jason Statham or Steve McQueen), well, I don’t either.. because it’s more of a way to be classy without having to think twice.
    I have learned throughout the years that being comfortable in black helps me to both blend in or be outstanding. The final decision is always mine.

  3. Weresandwich on

    No love for black Chelsea/jodhpur boots with black jeans? Great way of adding a rocker/metal edge to an outfit without being OTT.

  4. Ryan McEntire on

    Looking to wear black to a NYE dinner. How much black would you recommend and is it even a good idea to wear black for NYE? Thanks!

    • Barron on

      Is it formal? If so, a black tux is more than appropriate. If it’s fancy but not strictly formal, you can do a creative black tie approach (Google that). Or even a simple black suit / white shirt / black tie combo.

      If it’s closer to casual than formal, you could do something like black denim / chinos / trousers, red (or green) plaid shirt, solid medium gray sport coat. Lots of options. I’d probably go with black pants as your starting point, and build from there.

  5. Christian on

    I am actually going to be a pastor and there are many occasions when I have to wear black. Currently I am starting to level up my style and reorganize my wardrobe. Prioritizing black seems to be a good choice for a minimalist wardrobe.

    On the other hand, there are other situations in my line of work when black is way too formal (youth work, group meetings, leisure time). And sometimes all these situations occur on the same day.

    Do You have any advice on how to build a versatile outfit?

    • Barron on

      I would start off with some sort of balance. 50% between formal (black) clothes for when it’s necessary and 50% more casual or business casual looks.

      If you find yourself needing more black clothing, then add as needed. Do it gradually so you don’t overbuy (assuming you want to keep an organized, lean, minimalist wardrobe)