Sharp, simple and enduringly effective, the achromatic shade is one to call upon during any season – even summer. To prove it, here’s five of our favourite cultural cases…
Why black always works
What is it about black clothing that’s so enduringly appealing? Perhaps it’s the way it softly balances out any silhouette, the way it sheds further light on each individual’s facial features, or to put it simply, the pure coolness of it. This latter status is a reputation that has been garnered by an abundance of historical artists who relied on the shade for an easy (but undeniably effective) style game.
Today, we’re here to talk about this – specifically with the warmer seasons in mind. While the arrival of spring and summer does bring good reason to pull out our lighter layers – both in shade and texture – there’s a handful of us who still like to keep things as monochromatic as possible. Good news, you can still do it with flair and practicality. The only key to making it work is by following in the footsteps of these five figures…
Given that his work centred solely on black and white shades, it’s no surprise that photographer Robert Mapplethorpe followed suit with a monochromatic palette in his personal wardrobe. When it came to head to toe black, he made a solid case for both a black shirt and black tie, neatly sharpened by a boxy cropped leather jacket, high rise jeans and a classic buckle belt. It may not sit in the traditional sartorial rulebook, but it serves a serious dose of style, and is a top reference for a suave daytime look this summer.
Throbbing Gristle and Chris and Cosey composer Chris Carter was very experimental with his songs, so opted to keep things opposingly simple with his style. His go-to silhouette for doing so? Light black layers, of course. We’re particularly into the casual elegance of the above outfit: straight cut black jeans partnered with a black button down shirt. Style comes in the shirting details here – from a lengthily pointed collar to mother of pearl buttoned cuffs. It’s an easy win for the warm weather, so if you want to wear something similar, be sure to turn to our made-to-measure service.
Punk music went hand-in-hand with black clothing, quite simply because the colour correlated perfectly with the dark nature of the genre’s sounds. One man in particular who pioneered its sensual appeal, whatever the season, was Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious. Here, his ensemble was loosely tailored through straight cut trousers and an oversized, single breasted blazer. This silhouette is one to feel more relaxed in, yet it still hits the smart scale if that’s your style preference this season. For the best starting point, take a look at our seersucker windsor jacket.
While the hopes of higher temperatures are always on our minds through summer, the English weather forecast often has other ideas, so it’s important to be equipped with a layered look in case the coldness hits. Our top reference? Sean Connery as James Bond, whose fashionable flair was sold through the combination of a classic polo shirt and V-neck jumper. Both pieces are timeless essentials which ensure comfort while still delivering sophistication – meaning you can’t really go wrong with blending them as an upper layer. In the polo department, there’s plenty of options in our current collection.
The Velvet Underground
As far as cultural references go for black clothing, the most powerful collective to wear it was The Velvet Underground. Using the shade to shape a uniform for counter cultural art, its four leading members – Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Moe Tucker – chose black for pretty much every layer: be it blazer, trouser, t-shirt, turtleneck or accessories. The key to coining its effortlessness lay in the variety of textures on display, so keep this in mind when assembling your outfit this summer. Should you be interested in something specific to you, a bespoke consultation is just a click away.
Words by Faye Fearon