The Black Suit

Mr. Pink:
Why can’t we pick out our own color?

Joe:
I tried once, it don’t work.
You get four guys fighting over who’s gonna be Mr. Black
(Reservoir Dogs)

Black History: The color worn by clerics and mourners, black’s journey to hip fashionability is an intriguing one. As John Harvey points out in his book Men In Black, it was in the nineteenth  century that men of wealth and power began to dress as if going to a funeral. This was partly to distinguish themselves from women, who wore more vibrant colors. But black also was a reaction against the colorful foppishness of dying monarchies and thus symbolic of the bourgeois democracy. In the twentieth century, black eventually took on sinister connotations.

In postwar America, with the advent of the “beats”, black has been a badge of rebellion in the form of black leather and turtlenecks. In a sense, the modern black suit for men, like the “little black dress” for women, has come to represent a fashion statement by subtraction, a compass point of minimalistic chic that ensures safe passage through the shoals of style. Solid though cool.

By Hochswender, Woody (1998) Men’s Wardrobe, Chic Simple – p. 45

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