Black corduroy suit from Zizolfi/Pommella: Learning how to wear it

Monday, June 19th 2023
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In my continued exploration of all things the colour of mourning, I commissioned this black-corduroy suit from Pommella (trousers) and Zizolfi (jacket) last year. 

The logic seemed sound: if black is going to work in tailoring, I’d consistently found it works better in more casual materials like tweed, cord or linen, rather than fine worsted wool. (Outside of black tie, of course.)

The black tweed jacket I had from Jean-Manuel Moreau confirmed that: although it’s far from a versatile, everyday piece, that tweed (below) has been really nice to wear as an alternative to my more common browns and greys. 

I also had the specific example of Gianluca himself - the proprietor of Pommella. He regularly wears a black-cord suit, with a boldly striped shirt and pop of handkerchief, as we featured and discussed in the ‘How to dress like’ article profiling him.   

So I wasn’t just going off a swatch - this was something I had seen made up, and liked - and it was in line with previous experiences. And yet I’ve found the suit quite difficult to wear. 

The first thing that was established, early on, was that Gianluca’s particular combination (above) doesn’t work well on me. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising, given his different colouring and generally bolder style. 

But even more muted colours of stripes proved tricky. The pale lilac stripe that I enjoy wearing with the black tweed jacket (above), for example, seemed bolder against a full black suit. Clearly the different trousers were doing something to soften the overall impact. 

Over a few weeks I then tried all the shirts that I had found worked pleasingly with the black tweed. They were:

  • Pink/lilac plains or stripes, as mentioned
  • Yellow plains or stripes
  • Denims and chambrays
  • Cream (not white - too stark)
  • Beige or khaki (eg this vintage one)
  • Dark olive
  • Grey or grey stripe
  • Black (for events/evening)

But with the cord suit, the colours had the same effect as the lilac, and cream wasn’t great - again cream with the black jacket was easier because there was another colour in the combination, in the trousers. 

Beige and olive weren’t bad, but the only combination I really liked was the suit with a denim or chambray shirt. 

Even with these shirts, specific versions were better than others. More muted and lighter ones worked well, more than something like a Bryceland’s sawtooth. We’re talking small differences, but that blue felt too strong. 

The light-denim western shirt shown here, a dark washed-out linen, my old favourite from Al Bazar or a PS Lighter Everyday Denim - all of these were good. 

The thicker western shirt provides more visual interest, which is helpful if you’re wearing a suit without a pattern and no other real accessories. 

The shirt is an old one from Niche, via No Man Walks Alone. It’s a good colour and wash, and I think it’s a particularly nice look on its own with just a pair of tailored trousers - a good high/low combination. The style is not hard to find, via Polo or Purple Label for example. 

I do prefer less-artificial fading in denim these days, however. I think it’s a result of spending more time with natural fades on vintage jeans, on new jeans like my Rubato, or on denim shirts like the Bryceland’s. They have more authenticity, but also more character and depth. 

Unfortunately you can’t get naturally faded mid-blue denim unless something has been worn and washed dozens of times, so most of the time these artificial washes are the only option. Or a vintage one, if you can find it. 

The suit itself is well executed. I haven’t done close-ups or fit-comparison shots, just because they’re the same as my previous Zizolfi and Pommella pieces - see full articles on them at those links. 

The only change here was that I asked for the Zizolfi jacket to be made with no padding whatever in the shoulder, and frankly it made no difference to the fit, just a little one to the lightness. 

I also went with black-corozo buttons on the jacket, thinking it would be good for them to be as subtle as possible. But in reality, I think the shine of corozo looks a little plasticky, and you don’t get the nice lined texture of corozo in a colour this dark. It’s especially dangerous with black clothing to have anything shiny on it, as it can easily look cheap. 

So I’ll swap those in the future - either for a black unpolished horn, or a dark-brown one. I’ll put both on the cloth and see which I prefer. Both could add some nice depth and interest. 

I do think black corduroy is a nice tailoring option for someone that wants the informality of cord but wants to get as far away as possible from its sometimes old-fashioned associations. 

I love dark brown cord, dark olive, caramel and others - you can see many of my commissions on this article looking at the material in depth. But I understand why they can feel too rustic for some people, and black is definitely not that. 

If you’re after a black suit, this also, probably, is one of the easiest ways to do it. I’ve just found it a tricky one to combine. A step less versatile still than the black-tweed jacket. Not everyone’s after versatility, but if you are, I wouldn’t recommend this one. 

Other clothes worn:

  • Piccadilly loafers from Edward Green 
  • Reverso from Jaeger-LeCoultre with black alligator strap

Current prices:

  • Zizolfi jackets start at €3000 and suits ¢3600
  • Bespoke Pommella trousers start at €850

Both Pommella and Zizolfi plan to be back in the UK in September

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Tim J

Hey Simon,

Thanks for the article as always.
I got a lot out of your guide to corduroy and am a bit of a sucker for the fabric. I was wondering if you could share some information on the particulars of fabric chosen for this commission (wales, bunch etc)?
I was also curious as to whether you see any potential to break the suit up and wear either the jacket or trousers as separates?
Lastly, I note you had this made without the shoulder padding. I presume the corduroy actually helps with this a bit given it’s heft?
Cheers,
Tim.

Tim J

Cheers Simon. Much appreciated.

Tommy Mack

Definitely agree on the shoulder padding (or lack of). I got a vintage chocolate brown cord jacket cheap from eBay with shoulder pads like Judge Dredd which I had a local tailor remove (as well as fixing the cuffs which a previous owner had mangled by turning them up to shorten the sleeves!)

Lindsay McKee

Another great post here.
I’m planning on replacing my old navy corduroy jacket which is well “past it,” my default jacket, which I think I’d been wearing in London when I met you at one of the pop-up events in Savile Row with another navy, maybe darker or even a nice blue jacket, even grey…but not corduroy.
Something a tad lighter for wearing most of the year, except blistering Summer days like right now…Autumn, Winter,Spring.
I’d wear a nice Mockleno (mesh) like Dugdale Tropicalair which has a nice weave for these hotter Summer days.
Not a suiting cloth obviously but for a separate.
Any suggestions on cloth type & colour, not heavier than 12ozs?

Lindsay McKee

Smart tailored bespoke trousers, which I have in Mid to darkish GREY whipcord, 13oz from W. BILL “WHIPCORDS & CAVALRY TWILLS”.
Certainly a very smart jacket replacement but not business albeit worn frequently.
Thanks Lindsay

Jeremy

I like the suit, though it’s always difficult to capture the appeal of dark corduroy in photos, I think (and a little hard to imagine on a sunny summer’s day). For me, it’s the way it creates a velvet feel but one that is split into bars reflecting the light, giving a sense of depth and luxury. I like the denim shirt look but I think you could also take it into other directions, for example with a white poplin shirt or a charcoal cashmere rollneck. Perhaps even a white t-shirt with a pale grey or fawn V-neck sweater. I might wear burgundy/red wine-coloured work boots to give some contrast in texture as well as something of a high-low feel. And of course you can use this as a three-way suit lots of different way. The trousers with a white t-shirt and a black leather jacket, for instance.

Andrew

Hi Simon, I think the suit looks really cool. Personally, I would wear it in the evening when I wanted to dress up but didn’t need to be formal — to the theatre, a bar, or a restaurant — rather than during the day. All the best, Andrew

Peter Hall

My first instinct with black cord would be to reach for knitwear or a knitted polo. Of your shirt Combinations, I prefer the lilac stripes,but then,I like stripes. Your variety of denims show how important the right shade is. Thee risk for me is my wardrobe only has two denim shirts both of which are ddarker. The suit works, mixing up the chic of black and the coarseness of cord. I might try that with tweed.

Burt

A knit in a nice shade of olive or burgundy was my first instinct as well. I was thinking of a roll neck though, which will go well with your (Simon’s) longer neck line. I admit we’re over in autumn, but isn’t corduroy mostly an autumnal fabric anyway?
Talking about black cotton, Davide Taub has cut. black jackets in moleskin. He’s inspired by workwear though, e.g. one jacket is called a “cycle jacket” to be paired with black boots. Not sure if I could pull that style off, but it’s the “in between” between formal (the cut) and casual (the fabric & details) that is inspirational.

Oggi

I like the suit and can understand your preference for a denim or chambray shirt.A PS blue Oxford would probably look nice as well.
Many years ago I had a black cord suit. I have to admit that most of the time I wore the jacket with a pair of blue jeans.I thought the combination looked cool after seeing Cat Stevens wearing a similar outfit although his jacket was made from black velvet.
Enjoy.

Gary

A chambray shirt would work better than a denim one. The western style shirt does not suit tailoring if you excuse then pun. I agree with the blue Oxford suggestion but would also consider broadcloth poplin or end-on-end, possibly in white or pink. Bengal or butcher stripes, a personal favourite, work very well as Gianluca has demonstrated. I’d go for red or bright blue stripes for contrast.

Gary

I have a black corduroy suit and a white shirt works for me, especially at drinks receptions or summer parties.

Aaron L

It’s amazing how different the same(ish) suit is on you vs Gianluca is. Does this experience make you re-evaluate your article on how people’s colouration impacts on the combinations/colours they can wear?
It certainly does look like a challenge to pull off. Especially with your more restrained approach to dress. I could imagine it working if you added a lot more colours and textures into the mix. Perhaps a fair isle and other elements of that ilk. I don’t think that was what you were aiming for though…

Karol

On the other hand, I’ve seen you wear plack polos and shirts. If they can look good on you, they why would you need to soften the jacket? What’s the difference?

Andrew

Aaron, I agree. I think this is the issue.
Imho, Simon, I think your colouration does not really suit black, especially large blocks of it near the face. I think it is just much too strong for your face colouring. And I think this is the reason you are struggling to find a good shirt colour. I think people on whom this suit would look good would not have a problem finding a good shirt colour.

Anonymous

Simon re formal trousers (non jeans cut) made of Corduroy I’ve a ready – made pair from Zegna in beige. The label says dryclean only. In your experience is this the case with corduroy or is it safe to wash in a washing machine? A had another pair (cut formlly too) from Cordings in ecru/lcream and had no problem washing them in a machine.

Thank you.

G

Hi Simon
I’ve been thinking about a Charcoal cord suit, what would you think…

G

I think so. I’m in a Mayfair office finance job so smart enough for the more casual side of client meetings but good for going out to supper / shows / gigs in the evening is what I’m hoping…. Also might translate quite well into “cocktail” attire?

Casual with a chambray shirt, smarter with a dark tie and cream shirt…

Keen for your thoughts

Tommy Mack

A friend of mine has a lovely Caruso suit in a very dark navy needle-cord. Looks black at first glance but a lot more versatile. I’m definitely considering something similar to that, it seems incredibly wearable, dresses up or down and doesn’t look out of place in an increasingly casual work sphere.

Neil

Simon,
Thanks for being honest, it is great to read about your uncertainties.
I have been looking at a lightweight black corduroy jacket recently and have been struck by how “light absorbing” it is and so find it difficult to imagine what to pair it with.
It is like a black hole.
Anything bright seems incongruous and anything else gets lost next to it.
The addition of trousers, I feel compounds the issue.
I am sure there is something that works with black corduroy but I do not know that it is worth all the effort when there are so many more options, which would be worn more often.
I think I am just reiterating your uncertainties.
Again thank you for sharing.

RSM

Do you think a black cord suit/jacket (perhaps preferably double breasted and finer wale than this one) could take the place / be used the way that you use your black Cifonelli velvet jacket?
It could seem like a potential for a suit where not only both trousers and jacket could be used separately, but that could also have uses spanning from quite casual to fairly smart.

John

Hi Simon, was wondering if you have any comments/observations on commissioning trousers and jacket from separate tailors, when they will be worn together as a suit like this? Was this you wanting to use tailors you have not used recently that you like, or an experiment? Thanks.

Aaron

The combination looks lovely, even if a lot less versatile for you than it is for Gianluca.
I saw a while ago Drake’s released a black cord Game’s double-breasted dinner jacket – which seemed like a mash up of too many interesting elements in one thing to work well, especially with, as you say, a white shirt making the suit almost appear a little cheap.
In terms of footwear are there any shoes you’d wear besides black and maybe burgundy loafers? I’ve seen tan boots with black cord look fantastic, but those were just trousers and a lot more rustic in styling.

Aaron

Ah yes, I keep forgetting about that very dark shade of brown. It’s very nice indeed.
It’s been a while since I saw the picture, but yes I believe the black had faded a bit. I think they might have been 5 pocket cords too. And the boots were a brogued derby boot rather than a work boot.

David

Interesting article.
A few months ago I went to Anglo-Italian to commission a black cord suit and happily they came up with a great alternative which was a very dark charcoal grey cord that has a dusty/smoky finish.
It is an amazing, versatile alternative that avoids the difficulties associated with pure black.
It is a very fine cord and I bought it with a multiplicity of uses in mind – casual with an open neck shirt (stripes or denim both work well) – casual with a charcoal grey roll neck (tone on tone is great. Particularly for evening cocktails / dinners) – semi formal with an OBDS and light grey wool tie (works in all environments that demand a lounge suit) – evening with a white shirt and foppish black tie (a great alternative to a tuxedo).
In all, except black tie, I wear it with a pair of Crockett & Jones snuff suede loafers.
Frankly when I read your article I think this is a much better option . Pure black is just too limiting.

Craig Lomita

David, I think that sounds great. I really like the idea of a casual fabric like corduroy in a more city color like charcoal, rather than the more rustic colors it’s usually seen in, and which I can’t see myself wearing as a full suit. And I think charcoal is more appealing than black for this kind of suit. I have a pair of charcoal trousers which I love, and have wondered how it would look as a full suit.

Henry

Hi Simon, great suit! May I ask what’s the reference number of the cloth? Thx Henry

Josh

Gianluca’s relative ease in that particular ensemble is interesting to dissect. I wonder if it’s partly the age and wear of his suit? The creasing and apparent fading (though it could just be the lighting) dial down the formality contrast. No doubt yours will age beautifully. Maybe in 5 years it’ll feature in a “How Great Things Age” post, and we’ll all be marvelling at the combinations you’ll have achieved!

Do you still stand by the advice to avoid navy corduroy suits? I keep returning to the idea for a casual winter suit – perhaps the right shade would be crucial, a colder, less saturated blue?

JB

I guess it comes down to personal preference, but I don’t see why a white or ecru oxford wouldn’t look great with this suit, the white especially with a black knit tie or grey woolen tie. White or melange grey friday polo would work too, although not the latter for me personally.
Your old favorite grey shirt could also be interesting, but I suspect it might look a bit dull next to the black.
Other stuff I think would look nice would be a light to mid beige knit, charcoal roll neck or something in camel, camel and black look really lovely together.
Regardless, lovely looking suit!

JB

Yeah I get that point. Perhaps I’m expecting the fact its corduroy to downplay the funeral feel more than it actually does.
A charcoal friday polo or similar could be a nice option too, perhaps with a pen or some other interesting detail in the chest pocket.
I know when Stòffa introduced black in their range, they did some nice charcoal, black, taupe, sand and cream combos. Perhaps your colhays knitted cardigan, with an optional white tee underneath?

Martin O`Shea

Which way is the suit cut?

Martin O`Shea

I prefer the English way, nap smooth up bcos the colour is deeper and richer. Its a matter of opinion.

And

I like the suit, cord is somehow the only material that does black justice outside black tie imo, due to its particular way of reflecting the light and creating depth, while most blacks have exactly the problem of looking flat.
Still, I would be very interested in a midnight navy instead, precisely for that versatility, particularly as it would be so much easier to break up imo.

CK

Nice, Simon. Something very cool and clean about an all black outfit with a well faded denim or chambray. The loafers and the Reverso are a lovely touch.

Charles

Difficult one… I like black, but find whatever items I have just don’t get worn. Black jeans means black boots, and then I look like an art school drop out fop. Black jacket, a waiter on the way to work. I can’t win. I admire the concept of wearing black, but I can’t pull it off.

José

Hi Simon,
This article is quite helpful for me. I love cordoroy. I’ve been thinking for the past few months that cordoroy would be a great way to have a black suit or jacket, as I don’t have any, and I don’t like it in worsted fabrics. Whenever I think about it, the hardest thing for me is to picture which shirts would work. The way I imagined it was cream, pale yellow or faded pink shirt with a bold colour pocket square (your styling of the Sexton Brown Linen DB is the inspiration for that), but even in my mind, I find it hard and don’t know if I would love it. The denim shirt works really well!
This article help me realize that, a full suit is problably not the way to go for me. I will problably go for a sports jacket. I think it would work very well in a DB, with a relatively informal style, like your DB cordoroy from Ciardi or the DB style of the Anthology, what do you think? I also think fading will make it better…
Also, the black tweed is lovely! I wonder if it would be more or less versatile if you could see a bit more speckles, like the navy donegal fabric of the donegal overcoat. Any thoughts?

Thanks, and, again sorry for the long comment. I spend some time without commenting and then it comes out pouring!

José

I don’t have a pretty full wardrobe. My first option would be dark brown. The only reason I’m not going for it is that I love brown so much that I would get it almost every time! I have a brown tweed jacket, and I will comission a brown linen for summer 2024. But I think you are right. I was browsing through the comments and a few fellow readers shared their experience or thought about dark grey or charcoal, which got me thinking about it. And I am now convinced it’s a better option!

Jason A

Simon that suit is not meant for daytime or casual wear. I would use the outfit for evening dinners or special events; just a thought.

RT

A really interesting and timely post for me. I once saw Hugh Grant in a black cord suit and he looked great. There was a certain louchness about it that he carried off well. I can imagine Bryan Ferry doing the same.
My experience of black clothing has been very varied, but I’ve always found that black knitwear has worked quite well and have quite enjoyed wearing black cord trousers – though not usually together. I had a black worsted suit that I was never quite convinced by. It looked cheap and nasty, even though it was quite expensive and well-made. I had a black linen suit that was quite good for summer evening events, though little else. The problem I had was finding the appropriate shirt, much as you say. The only things I found that worked were a couple of grey shirts. There was a lightish grey pinpoint button down and a striped grey on grey shirt. Both were ok, though not brilliant.
I recently found myself considering having a cord suit made. I can’t find a shade of brown that would work for me and the jury is out on olive. I considered black, but I think I’m going to go for a dark grey or charcoal, particularly after reading this article, which has reinforced my reservations.
PS – I rather like black cord with black suede shoes, but it’s almost impossible to find a decent pair.

SamS

The Swedish brand Myrqvist does decent goodyear welted shoes, and has at least a few models in black suede (I’m seriously considering a pair of penny loafers). They’re on the cheaper end for goodyear shoes, but I find in suede it makes a bit less difference than in leather (cheaper materials is less obvious in suede than polished calf).

Depending on your standards (PS readers can have very high standards), they may or may not be “a decent pair” 🙂

Buddy Levy

Crockett&Jones make a nice pair of black suede by special order

RT

Buddy and Sams – thanks for the suggestions. I looked at Myrqvist (and lots of others), who do offer some black suede, but they only in loafers (at least at the time when I looked at them). I’m a big fan of C&J, but their special order had too long a timescale and I couldn’t really justify the cost. In the end, I solved the problem by buying a pair of mid-brown suede Derbies in a sale and getting them dyed black. The result isn’t quite as good as if they had been originally black, but is still pretty good and was achieved at quite modest cost.

J

Interesting suit, Simon. Don’t you think the button stance would benefit from being a bit lower?

Rogey

I would think that an oxford shirt with a pale or medium grey stripe would work pretty well, especially as the suit got a little patina. Like some of the other commenters, I would get dark grey corduroy instead of black, but I applaud you for trying something different. It is always easy to get grey and navy. When you’ve put together a solid collection of bespoke clothes the challenge is to get something a bit different. It’s all an experiment and is supposed to be fun. Some things end up working better than others, and you learn as you go.

AK

I’ve been pairing a charcoal grey corduroy suit with a heavily faded grey western shirt. Requires a certain commitment to the bit of course.

AK

Either really. Black tassel loafers sometimes, but I kind of wear those with anything and everything. On a recent overcast day I went with a dark brown braided O-ring belt and dark brown (and very weathered) Wolverine 1000 Mile boots, it felt very strong as a combination.

AK

Yes, mine is a wider wale and a roomier cut than yours, it’s properly a casual suit. I’m also in California, of course, so the rules of formality are all over the place comparatively. When I started looking for it I was envisioning a suit that was knockabout in a country way, but with a color that fit an urban life instead – overcast afternoon walks transitioning into evenings out.

Michael Powell

A couple of years ago, I bought three cord jackets: navy, beige and black. The navy, I wear constantly. The beige, occasionally. I’ve worn the black twice; with black shirt, black tie, black pants, black shoes. At night.

John McCarthy

I have that exact suit and I love it but yes still trying to figure out what goes with it. So far my favorite has been a dark Burgundy Polo from John Smedley.

Shoddy

Hi Simon
Interesting article about what does not work. What i could not really see from the options you listed or the discussion below, was whether you had tried a very low contrast option ie something very dark but not quite black, jewel tone, maybe in a similar material (velvet, cord) or maybe something different like silk or maybe tencel. Maybe even black. Maybe grey. Pretty much standard art curator at drinks party stuff (see eg Gro Grønnegaard in the legacy https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2341762/mediaviewer/rm761189120/?ref_=tt_md_5 )
. I note that your discussion about footwear seems to be heading that way.
Otherwise, well not everything works for everyone. Gianluca looks great, incidentally.

Shoddy

One further thought- maybe a knitted polo (or rollneck in winter).

Joe

I have wanted a black corduroy suit since the article on Gianluca. Your pairing of the black cord pants with brown sport coat has helped, as I can see it working with a moleskin coat I have in a similar color, as has your black tweed coat worn with odd trousers. That is, I think you have shown that you can split up the suit to great effect. By the way, If a suit ever called for black cowboy boots, this black corduroy suit with denim shirt definitely does.

SamS

As much as I’m buying into this “wear more black” thing, having bought a black cashmere crewneck and recently commissioning black fresco trousers, I’m really not falling for these black cord suits. I dig your black tweed jacket (I could see myself having one), but I don’t think you or Gianluca really make the black cord suit work.
While the black tweed jacket looks like something that could actually be elegant fashion forward, the black cord suits give a completely different vibe. When the light hits it, it easily looks shabby, and it to me it seems to signal “sad only suit” – something thrifted for a funeral, and now serving for any serious matter requiring a suit. I mean no disrespect for the man himself, and fully acknowledge the futility of judging it by a single picture, but the picture of Gianluca gives me undertaker vibes (the profession, not the wrestler).
Have you tried breaking it up? I could see both the trousers and the jacket working quite well as separates?
Also, that black jacket… completely academically, do you think black cashmere would work, or would the shine and the fineness make it too formal (or even, heavens forbid, make it look like an orphaned suit jacket)?

Tim T

Hi Simon,

The trousers and jacket look excellent! A testament to Zizolfi and Pommella.

Yes the black cord is a difficult one! I commend you on your investigations for us!!
Tim

Magnus

Curious how this would look with the green striped PS oxford cloth shirt

Staffan

Suit looks great Simon!

I have also started to think about a black cord jacket as an evening jacket, mee too thinks that chambray and denim looks the best paired with it. Im guessing I have been trained a bit by how Tom Ford pushes this look.

Daniel

It’s possible that the cut of the jacket is a factor. If you had went for a slightly shorter jacket, perhaps with patch pockets, it would be perceived as more casual in line with the corduroy fabric and easier to pull off. As it is, it looks like a very traditional business suit cut.
It’s hard to tell, but Gianluca’s suit seems to be more casual by design. Also, there’s something nice about how he allowed his to look lived in, wrinkles and all.

John

Hi Simon,
Actually, this is a lovely suit, and it really looks good on you!
From my perspective, among the best workable opttions available to you, there are two I would consider:
Firstly, worn with a light blue button down such as this one:
https://shop.permanentstyle.com/collections/polo-shirts/products/ps-blue-oxford-shirt-n?variant=40013180731491
As accessory, I would just pull off a single one: a neckerchief, which could be an olive light silk with a classic design such as this one, and tied in the French (?) way, as shown here:
https://shop.anderson-sheppard.co.uk/cotton-spotted-neckerchief-navy-white
Of course, beyond workable various shades of green, you could explore other designs such as paisley.
The second option would be to wear it with a green rollneck. Here again, I would suggest starting with an olive one.
No need for a pocket square with these kinds of outfits. Quite simple, and yet chic.
John

John

Yes, I know you wear yours differently. Actually, it’s one of the two ways French, Italian and Spanish women wear theirs – the squared ones, such as Hermès 90/90, and thus making it look odd.

Markus

Interestingly, due to your website, I have moved away from black somewhat and do not wear it frequently any longer while you seem to go in the other direction. I feel that most of the time black only looks good when wearing it alone on top or bottom as eg a wool/cashmere sweater (even though I find charcoal more versatile), a somewhat washed-out t-shirt, a black knitted merino polo or washed out black jeans. Plus, I still sometimes wear a black suit and white shirt to court, but that is due to the very specific circumstances in a court room. Even there, I have mainly switched to charcoal (I do not like navy in suits).

Alan

That’s a very nice looking suit but I can see why it’s a challenge finding combinations that work. Personally I would either go full monochrome with grey, charcoal or black shirts, knits and polos, or with deep jewel toned shirts. A black cord suit is already quite a “look”, so I feel it’s better to embrace that than trying too hard to find ways to make it look subtle.

AA

Nice suit! At least here in NYC, it’s not that hard to wear especially with option not discussed so far: shirts with patterns. Plaids in poplin or flannel with some black in them could do very well, and beyond that, shirts with some of the pattern and decoration men used to enjoy in neckwear: geometric prints, dark florals, etc. These fabrics are easy to find in the collections of Thomas Mason/Albini, Canclini and others if you get shirts made for you, and in the offerings of Eton etc if you do not. For example, I have a shirt with a muted floral on a dusky gray ground fabric from STYLBIELLA that would pair with this suit just fine.

Peter Z

Dear all,

I also was wary of wearing black as this website and several books started my education on tailoring. However, I did experiment with Michael Browne on a three piece one button peak lapel suit from the infamous black crepe fabric. So it does look rather dandyish with the three piece but looks rather well when it’s a two piece. I use it when I am invited to a cocktail, for a nice dinner or to go to the theatre or opera. Found it to be more useful than I thought. It’s certainly more suitable for evening events in my opinion than my navy two piece. At the same time it’s much easier to wear than proper black tie. I believe it falls in that nice middle than Simon talked about regarding eveningwear that is not black tie, there was a picture of a cifonelli 6×1 velvet jacket.

Hope it helps someone.
Best
P

Garryowen

Your foray into black has only reinforced to me that the color is ill-suited for tailoring. The article about the tweed jacket felt as if you were trying to justify its inclusion into your wardrobe, rather than an organic immersion into your regular dress. This article felt similar, albeit with more awareness of its unconventional fit. I get the sense that both items will appear in a reflection article three years from now about failed sartorial experiments. The black linen overshirt seemed a more natural item, so maybe I shouldn’t entirely dismiss the experiment. Nonetheless, I do appreciate the effort. It has challenged me to consider the color, even if it didn’t ultimately change my opinion.

Aaron L

The experiments have changed my opinion 🙂 So far I’ve had some successes with knits and loafers. I gave the suit I bought away though, as I couldn’t crack it. But what’s life without challenges?? 😉

James Fettiplace

Thanks for sharing Simon. Although I can completely see what you’re trying to do with the use of a denim shirt to make this suit more relevant and relaxed, for me both the colour of the suit (historically very smart) and simply by virtue of it being a full suit means that these two (the suit and the shirt) seem at odds.
Reading some of the comments above, I agree with others that this would be a really nice ‘dress-up’ suit for an evening function, perhaps as a more modern twist on black-tie (and I get that is softly-tailored, but I think it would be a nice twist………my dinner jacket hasn’t been used in 10 yrs for example, but I would definitely wear this to an evening function)

Markus Franz

Hi, why didn’t you have the pants made by Zizolfi? Is it usual for Zizolfi to have the pants made by another tailor?

Albert

Hi Simon really love the black corduroy for the smart casual look. If you were to get thr summer equivalent, what fabric would you go with? I’m not aware of any summer weight black corduroy on the market but wool silk linen or pure linen might be something worth considering (though the look might be significantly different?

Vik

Hi Simon, A little late to this – but always been a fan of corduroy but have yet to pull the trigger on a Black Suit… mainly because I am not sure about the right footwear for a suit that you rightly say is a little more relaxed.
Could you possibly expand on this area a little?

Vik

Hi Simon – Thank you. I did see the discussion around the cordovan shoes. Very interesting as I have about 6 pairs now (Alden fanatic).

Stefan

Interesting that a denim shirt looks so good with a black suit like this. Do you know the reason?:) Is it the cloth of the suit, because I doubt it would looked as good with a black wool business suit. I really like black jeans and a denim shirt…but I haven’t really thought about why just this combination looks good, because most of black and light blue combination don’t.

Lindsay McKee

Simon, you mention fading in this article.
I am shocked as to how much my old and soon to be relegated navy jacket can fade, particularly around the shoulders and collar.
What good dyes are used in clothing these days, I may ask?
How do I best avoid fading particularly in a good quality bespoke piece of apparel apart from keeping away from light when not worn which is obvious anyway!
An article on that may not be entirely out of place!!

Lindsay McKee

Good to know.

Lindsay McKee

I forgot to add that the jacket is corduroy.

Aaron L

I had to buy a black (cotton) suit for a funeral recently and had been mulling this article since then (as I hoped to get some additional use out of the suit).
The denim option worked ok – but perhaps because the fabric lacked the texture of corduroy it felt slightly tacky.
Came across this faded coral western shirt which, together with tan shoes/watch, white pocket, T and socks, and a black and coral silk scarf finally makes me want to wear the suit 🙂
Anyway – thought dusty coral might be another option for you to try with this suit.

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