Black suit too formal?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by iain_nyc, Sep 17, 2002.

  1. iain_nyc

    iain_nyc Member

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    I have to wear a suit for a business function tomorrow (normally, it's business casual all the time). It just so happens that my favorite suit is a black Zegna. Is this too formal for your average business situation? If so, anyways to "dress it down" a little?

    thanks.
     


  2. pstoller

    pstoller Senior member

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    What sort of "business function" is it? Since it's usually "business casual," this function must be a bit beyond the usual, so a little formality may not be a bad thing. As for dressing down a black suit, you could wear a baseball cap...no, seriously, you're pretty much limited to shirt and tie choices to leaven the formality of the black suit. A shirt color other than plain white would be less formal; maybe a pale blue? A simple pattern for the tie beats a solid, unless the solid is an unusual color"”say, purple, rather than black or red. On the other hand, I wouldn't go too whimsical, either. (No Nicole Miller "theme" ties with a black Zegna, please.) I'll hand this off to the guys who actually wear business suits regularly from here. [​IMG]
     


  3. iain_nyc

    iain_nyc Member

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    The occasion is interviews and orientation with the company that just bought us out. The meetings are in their HQ building...
     


  4. pstoller

    pstoller Senior member

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    Hmmm. Are you and your coworkers trying to present a unified front, or is there some competition to see who'll keep their jobs?
     


  5. iain_nyc

    iain_nyc Member

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    We've been offered jobs already...this is more of a "this is how we do things around here" kind of thing. Once this is done, though, it's back to casual, I think. (I hope.)
     


  6. Stu

    Stu Senior member

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    Let me butt in here: If this company bought you out, it would seem you in a sense, are auditioning for your job. Oscar Wilde once said something like: The way to compensate for being slightly overeducated is to be absolutely overdressed.

    When there is a merger, people get fired. I would be doing my best to impress, if I were you. Even if you are a bit overdressed, it would be better than being a bit underdressed.
     


  7. pstoller

    pstoller Senior member

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    Stu's headed where I was headed. Even if you've been offered a job, it may not be a secure position. Mergers and layoffs typically go hand-in-hand. Now, perhaps the layoffs have already happened, and you're one of the lucky ones who've been retained. Nevertheless, if this is your first meeting with the new brass, I would think you'd want to stand out just enough to marked as a keeper, but not so much that you look like a bullseye, if you know what I mean.

    Of course, other factors matter a lot more than the suit, but the suit helps. It is most definitely a trend in business to go back to suits, away from the business casual of the bull market days. While most of the economy is down, suit sales are up considerably. So, the black Zegna is probably a good bet. And don't be too sure you'll be back in khakis anytime soon, or for very long.
     


  8. PeterMetro

    PeterMetro Senior member

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    Allow me to second the recommendation to wear a suit and tie. It shows you're taking the meeting seriously. Even if you're not competing for your job, it never hurts to impress your new bosses.

    However, I come from the school of thought that black suits are reserved for funerals or the evening. Depending on where you live, what your new business environment is like, a black suit may not be acceptable. I might recommend a grey or navy suit.

    On the other hand, I would certainly recommend going in what makes you the most comfortable (i.e. confident): if all your other suits don't fit right or have a stain or something, go with the black.

    While I have often been impressed with pstoller's responses, I must respectfully disagree with this recommendation. I've never found pale blue and black to be an attractive combination - it tends to wash out the pale-skinned and yellow the dark-skinned. I do agree that a color other than white would be less formal.
     


  9. pstoller

    pstoller Senior member

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    A shirt color other than plain white would be less formal; maybe a pale blue?
    While I have often been impressed with pstoller's responses, I must respectfully disagree with this recommendation. I've never found pale blue and black to be an attractive combination - it tends to wash out the pale-skinned and yellow the dark-skinned. I do agree that a color other than white would be less formal.
    No offense is taken from your respectful dissent, I assure you. I just picked pale blue as an example because it's the most conservative shirt color next to white, not because I've observed the color combination to be fortuitous. What colors would you recommend, then? FYI, I also agree that grey and navy are better choices, all else being equal. I was, however, assuming that the Zegna suit is a favorite for good reasons beyond color.
     


  10. iain_nyc

    iain_nyc Member

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    Yup...the black Zegna just fits me so much better than anything else I own. I suppose my question is whether or not black is TOO much - but I don't think it is.

    I'm thinking about wearing it with a pale yellow shirt. Not sure on tie yet. Any thoughts on that - or on my shirt choice?

    Thanks for all the input so far.

    For what it's worth - this thing's thursday, not tomorrow, so that gives me an extra day to worry...
     


  11. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    What sort of black are we talking about here? If the suit has and shee, is "pitch" black, or is too narrowly cut, you might want to rethink things. But if is a matte black, or a faded black approaching charcoal, you could probably get away with it. And with a Zegna suit, which more than likely has larger lapels and a boxier cut, (and thus more "business" than evening,) you could be in luck. In the latter case, and I feel as if I'm going to take some heat here, but how about wearing a tattersall shirt with a solid or discreetly patterned tie? You'd probably need a tiny bit of black in the pattern to make it look right, but it is fairly easy to coordinate a tattersall with a dark (nearly black) charcoal suit. Stick with a solid, textured tie unless you are pretty confident about your tastes.
     


  12. pstoller

    pstoller Senior member

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    I like pale yellow"”just make sure you don't look like a bee. [​IMG] The tie choice leads me back to blue again, as the main color (though not a pale blue, this time; deeper and more saturated than the shirt, light enough to not fight the suit). I like purple and yellow, too, although it's rather flashy. With a yellow shirt, I think bright red is too glaring, burgundy too somber, green a bit jaundice-inducing. Here again, though, my color choices aren't necessarily the best. I'd like to see what "the other Peter" recommends.
     


  13. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    I don't think black is too formal. IMO, old rules for old dressing. I also have a black Zegna (FANTASTIC wrinkle resistant tropical wool- great traveling suit) I'm very fond of, and have worn as frequently as any other suit color. Used it on my last job interview for a very conservative company back East and got the job.

    I'm with LAG on the tattersall shirt, but perhaps not this time. Think you're going for confident, yet understated. Pale yellow sounds like a good choice, but I'd wear a tie with some gray, yellow, and black in it if you have or can find one. This may call for another retail expedition. Tough job, but somebody's gotta do it. What other options do you have?

    Iain, did you buy the suit at Riflessi?
     


  14. PeterMetro

    PeterMetro Senior member

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    As my father has said, never point out a problem without first devising a solution.

    While black seems like a neutral color, I've found it, when presented as the dominant color, relatively difficult to coordinate.  I think this is one of the reasons people will wear all black.

    I would not be afraid to wear a white shirt.  Worn with the right tie, white would not look too formal, and I think it complements the black suit the best (especially if you have a tan).  An off-white or light grey might look more casual, perhaps paired with a dark, wool tie (add some dark-rimmed glasses and you can coin the phrase "architect chic").

    I sometimes wear a bright pink shirt, open collar with a black three-button Zegna.  While clearly not appropriate for this occasion, I've found the combination to work with my coloring.  Speaking of which, your personal coloring -- and personal style -- is the deciding factor in your choice.  Good luck.
     


  15. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    I second PeterMetro's suggestion re. the light grey shirt and wool tie (and I personally really like eyeglasses). You could even do variations on the theme: a dove grey shirt with a white windowpane pattern paired with a dark knit tie, for example.
     


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