How Not To Be Boring In Black And White
Three ways to master monochrome.
It’s something of a cliché that anyone who works in a creative profession – fashion, design, architecture, art, literature – inevitably ends up dressing in an austere uniform of all black. But actually, the way things are going in this Instagrammable, thoroughly Gucci-fied era, it’s not entirely true. Right now at MR PORTER HQ – formerly dependable hunting ground for neatly pressed black Acne Studios trousers, black Common Projects Achilles sneakers and black Arc’teryx Veilance blazers – people seem to be switching it up. This week, there have even been sightings of a leopard-print shirt prowling around the office. We’re just about over the shock. Anyway, undeniable fun as this all is, it’s still true that there are few things more timeless, elegant and infinitely adaptable than dressing in black and white. And, yes, many of the wiser style insiders are well aware of this fact. They know that, whatever trend may be floating on the wind, you can be sure that, by investing in monochrome pieces, you’ll buying into a look that is both long-lasting and thoroughly adaptable.
“From a functional perspective, the biggest reason for my monochromatic leanings, and definitely why I’ve kept to them for so many years, is ease,” says MR PORTER buying director Mr Sam Lobban (a man thoroughly immune to wildcat syndrome). “When you focus on black and white, almost the entirety of your wardrobe will go together, which makes packing for trips or deciding what to wear for an important business meeting super easy.” It also means that everything you buy in a particular season won’t be completely irrelevant in the next. “I like the vibe of constant style,” says Mr Lobban. “Adding a few ideas here and there over the course of multiple seasons, rather than jumping from one extreme to another every six months.”
The flipside of monochrome is, of course, that it can get a little samey. But there’s no reason it has to. To demonstrate this fact, we’ve put together three looks, which show how black and white can service a variety of sartorial needs, from sharp, professional propriety to relaxed weekend style. Perhaps we need to put on some kind of internal seminar, just to remind everyone.
For the office
That tricky question: where best to situate oneself along the smart-casual axis? Thankfully, black makes everything look that little bit more formal. In a professional environment, you can look sharp while remaining comfortable by pairing black wool trousers (this cropped, pleated pair are that little bit more contemporary than your average) with a simple black crewneck sweater worn over a white shirt. This outfit would work just as well with some blindingly white sneakers, but we’ve styled it here with some lug-soled brogues from Dries Van Noten. It’s smart, but not overly so.
Monochrome doesn’t have to mean plain. At least, if this shirt, another offering from Dries Van Noten, is anything to go by. Throw it on over a white T-shirt when heading off to an event that requires a touch more dressiness. Despite the busy pattern, it will go with absolutely anything. As long as it’s black, of course.
For the weekend
Black is uncomplicated, so it’s particularly appealing for the weekend, when you might not want to think so much about what you’re throwing on. Same goes for sportswear. We’ve combined the two for a look that’s sharp, comfortable and contemporary. It comes with a warning, though. You don’t want to look like you’re off to the gym (unless, in fact, you are). Mix it up with a grey denim jacket from New York designer Mr John Elliott, who is an expert at elevating such utilitarian classics.