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The case for black dress shirts?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by moseymosey, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. moseymosey

    moseymosey Member

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    I do not have a black dress shirt. I have four. Don't ask.

    The prevailing opinion is that the black dress shirt is simply not a wise choice, under almost all circumstances. I'd like to throw out a few examples which might bolster an argument to the contrary. Personally, I'm starting to agree that wearing a black dress shirt is a no-no. Nevertheless,

    [​IMG]

    Could this be borderline acceptable? Yes, it is a black dress shirt, but I think the brown jacket/belt/shoes(presumably) offset it appropriately and elevate the whole look. I think it would be hard to argue that this look is a total failure, could you? Why?

    [​IMG]

    This one is slightly more dressy. Could even be worn in a business casual office, perhaps. Again, additional colors (purple/brown) make it less depressing and more cohesive as an outfit. If you disagree, why?

    [​IMG]

    This one is technically not a black dress shirt, since it has some sort of partially visible print on it. But the idea is very similar and I think this dude carries it off well.

    I am playing devil's advocate here, since I'm about to purge my black shirts. Or maybe not. Thoughts?
     
  2. Master Squirrel

    Master Squirrel Senior member

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    Keep one or two. They come in handy for evening casual, but beware of being mistaken for waitstaff if you wear it.
     
  3. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    I think part of the difficulty here is with the ambiguity of the term "dress shirt". Are you using it as a synonym for "long-sleeved shirt with a collar"? Otherwise I would suggest you're begging the question a bit -- what are you dressing for?
     
  4. moseymosey

    moseymosey Member

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    Primarily for a business casual office (but that's just me). I wanted the discussion to be broader, since it could be employed in a much more formal occasion (wedding? formal dress event?), or in a more casual situation (out for drinks, for example). I've heard the "you look like the waiter" argument, and I agree with it. I've also heard the "you look like a bad lawyer" and "you're in the mob?" and "you are not Johnny Cash". All good points. But you can make similar arguments about other specific articles, such as cowboy boots. Would it mean you need to avoid cowboy boots always and ever? Probably not, since they -could- work.

    Business casual office would mean wearing it during daylight hours. Challenging, yes, but impossible?
     
  5. msulinski

    msulinski Senior member

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    I say you complete the purge. The first 2 photos certainly aren't my favorite, but I hate the last one. I think all of the outfits could be better with a different color shirt.
     
  6. Liquidus

    Liquidus Senior member

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    The first and second are not business casual outfits in my mind. Fine for going out at night. The third guy just looks terrible.
     
  7. HughJ

    HughJ Senior member

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    I kind of hate them all but the second one, and I think the scarf being a greater offense is just distracting me.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013
  8. topos

    topos Senior member

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    Quote: 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.
     
  9. js4design

    js4design Senior member

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    If you must wear a dark dress shirt, navy almost always makes more sense than black.
     
  10. philosophe

    philosophe Senior member

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    Black shirts are fine for casual evenings and to be avoided during the day.
     
    1 person likes this.
  11. cptjeff

    cptjeff Senior member

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    I think they work in certain circumstances. Never with a tie, and it's a hard item to wear, experts only. Otherwise, you end up looking like guy no. 3.

    As for the others, no. 1 looks pretty good, but no. 2 is wearing such a stupid scarf that I can't tell if the shirt works or not.
     
  12. meursault42

    meursault42 Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013
  13. robertm

    robertm Member

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  14. Tesla

    Tesla Member

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    Black and brown, no thanks (I thought that was common sense already), although the first pic almost pulls it off...almost.
     
  15. McBindle

    McBindle Well-Known Member

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    Black shirts? There is a time and a place for them. The time is never. You can figure out the place on your own. - the Most Interesting Man in the World.
     
  16. aravenel

    aravenel Senior member

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    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:
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013
  17. MyOtherLife

    MyOtherLife Senior member

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    A black linen summer shirt is acceptable.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013
  18. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    All three look terrible IMHO.
     
  19. EriQ009

    EriQ009 Senior member

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    I own one black dress shirt. Possibly not the best purchase, as I have never worn it.
     
  20. archibaldleach

    archibaldleach Senior member

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    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.
     

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