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The case for black dress shirts? - Page 2

post #16 of 177
There is no case for a black dress shirt.

I'm sure it is possible in some context to not look terrible in it (though I can't figure out how that would be), but if you were a sophisticated enough dresser to actually pull it off you wouldn't have to ask about it.

And yeah, that third guy looks facepalm.gif
post #17 of 177
A black linen summer shirt is acceptable.
post #18 of 177
All three look terrible IMHO.
post #19 of 177
I own one black dress shirt. Possibly not the best purchase, as I have never worn it.
post #20 of 177
Originally Posted by meursault42 View Post

I am of the opinion that a black dress shirt, for a casual evening is a perfectly acceptable, even preferable choice. I'm not sure why it gets so much hate here on sf. Yes, you can wear it poorly. Yes there are times (lots actually) when it is not appropriate. But that can be said of any number of garment. It doesn't mean it deserves abject hatred. I mean, everyone here agrees white is the universally accepted proper choice, but seriously think of the number of poorly worn white shirts you've seen. Un-tucked, ill fitting, too tight, god help us, shiny. I think black is perfectly acceptable.

EDIT: just re-read and noticed OP said for business casual. Do not. Black shirts are not for the office. Purge.

Any color or design of shirt can look like crap of course, but I do think there's a difference between a badly executed outfit and something that is just wrong to begin with. One at least has the potential to look good when done correctly and the other, not so much.

As for white dress shirts, I'm not sure I agree. White is really a formal shirt and proper for a tuxedo or conservative environment where business formal dress is expected. Light blue is probably a better color in a numbr of circumstances. I wouldn't put pink as a "proper" choice but do think it can look better than white. Too lazy to link but there's a pretty good discussion on the "How to Wear a White Shirt" thread on this point.

Agree with your edited point that black shirts should never be worn to the office (and presumably that they are better for nights out). I think a black shirt for a night out is in the category of things that can look okay and don't deserve hatred but that it is also never really the best choice.
post #21 of 177

It's not a "no-no." I don't think that you need 4 of them, but you can wear them in less strict dress environments. I don't own one.


Grey suit

Black shirt

Burgundy tie



post #22 of 177
Originally Posted by topos View Post

A standard argument heard around here breaks down to something like the following: if the only parameter we're allowed to vary is the shirt, then the outfit can be improved by replacing the black shirt with (say) a light blue one. I'm not going to argue that light blue is the ideal choice in this situation, only that it is a better choice. So what makes the outfit a "failure" is that there is a better choice than a black shirt. And which leads to the generalization, after consideration of many outfits, that one should not own a black shirt, because replacing it with a shirt of another color is (almost) always an improvement. Which is (probably) where the advice "don't buy/own/wear" black shirts comes from.

If it's always second best and has limited use, why own one? This seems like a perfectly logical argument / critique to me. I own various patterns and solids in white, light blue, pink, and lilac. I can't picture any time where I would actually think, "Gee, I wish I had a black dress shirt." It has never happened. I currently own about 30 dress shirts (I am sure not even close to the most impressive collection on this forum) and just see nothing that a black "dress shirt" adds. YMMV, but if a person can't think of a single instance where a black "dress shirt" would not at best be second choice (for me way below that, perhaps second choice if I (1) actually owned a black "dress shirt" and had all but two shirts at the cleaners, but if I had anything else in my closet would go right to the bottom).

If you like the look, you like the look. I happen to not like it at all, but my tastes are not shared by everyone. In the case where you like the look, we're not dealing with the argument you bring up. If we are dealing with a variant of the argument you cite, then we're talking about buying something that will always be a distant backup choice. I prefer to buy clothes that I actually want to wear.
post #23 of 177
When contemplating black shirts I cannot help thinking of Il Duce ( the guy with the spats)
post #24 of 177

Purge them all. There's literally no outfit imaginable where a black shirt will look better than a white one. 


The idea that a black shirt looks good for evening "going out" is only tenable if the wearer isn't wearing a jacket/suit. As a very casual outfit.... fine. But anytime you've got a jacket on, a lighter shirt will always look better under it. This doesn't just go for black, it goes for any dark shirts.

post #25 of 177
Since we're on the topic, if you were in your 20s and was going out to a nightclub, what color shirt would you wear?
post #26 of 177

I have a navy dress shirt that I sometimes wear going out. Looks much better than black

post #27 of 177
Originally Posted by Liquidus View Post

Since we're on the topic, if you were in your 20s and was going out to a nightclub, what color shirt would you wear?
I suppose you could wear black, but chances are, you would be wearing something that isn't a straight-up dress shirt.
Back in my clubbing days I typically wore black pants and a lighter shirt
post #28 of 177
Thread Starter 
Thanks for everyone's input. There are some glorious responses in this thread. I shall purge.
post #29 of 177
I should maybe caveat with this:

On MC/CW we get caught up in whether something "looks good" or not. But that's not the only way to think about whether an outfit is successful of not. Another framework is just to consider what effect it has on the viewer, and what image it projects from the wearer. Here we universally strive for something in the neighborhood of gentlemanly/elegant/refined/respected, with occasional forays into sharp or exuberant. Black shirts at night can portray edginess, criminality, risk-seeking, disreputable but either smooth-talking or ruthless. There are people who are going for one of these effects. Black shirts worn during the day portray someone who saw a movie in which one of these edgy criminal characters was wearing a black shirt and thought it would look just a good on him while working his IT job. Maybe somebody is going for that too. Anyway there is more to clothing and style than "looks good" or "looks ugly".
post #30 of 177
Originally Posted by joshuadowen View Post

. . . There's literally no outfit imaginable where a black shirt will look better than a white one. 

Except on a priest.
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