Nightlife Essential: The Slim Black Suit

March 18th, 2013

A few weeks ago we mentioned that black suits aren’t appropriate for corporate settings. In my opinion, black is too stark for midday and too formal for the office – not to mention it doesn’t work well with the typical colors of business shirts and ties.

Shortly thereafter, we received this question: if you can’t wear it for business, why would anybody buy a black suit (other than for a funeral)?

The short answer: socializing after dark. A slim black suit is one of the most versatile and functional garments a man can own, once the sun goes down. It has been my nightlife go-to for years, no matter the occasion or event.

Here’s three examples.

    1. Formal Gala


    In a pinch, a black suit can serve in the place of a tuxedo.

    Just make sure it’s well tailored and pay attention to the details (white dinner shirt, black bowtie, cummerbund, plain-toe shoes).

    Wear it with confidence and nobody will be the wiser.


    Check out other solutions for formalwear-in-a-pinch: “Tuxedo Rental Alternatives


    2. Dive Bar


    For a casual night at the bar, break-up the suit subtly by pairing the jacket with black jeans. It’s a nice way to keep the chicness of a matching top and bottom, but add the laiback comfort of jeans. With a basic henley and classic sneakers, it’s sharp, but not too sharp for playing pool with your boys.

    The jeans should be as slim as the suit’s trousers – keeping consistent with the shape and silhouette of the jacket. I find it works better if they are similar in weight as well. For example, this is a lightweight wool/mohair jacket and a pair of lightweight chino cotton jeans.


    Accessories are crucial for finishing a simple casual look. Lately I’ve been keeping my jewelry pieces slim and subtle – like this narrow vintage belt, thin silver cuff bracelet, leather and silver string necklaces, etc. Nothing big and bold, just a few small, simple pieces that work well together.

    These all-leather Chuck Taylors are a subtle upgrade from the canvas classics. They’re a little sleeker and much easier to clean.


    3. Night Club


    Dressing for a night out at the club is easy: slim black suit, solid colored shirt (in this case heather grey), and black loafers. Just keep it simple and lose the restrictive accessories – no belt, no tie, no socks if it’s warm out.

    A black suit is sexy – it’s the menswear equivalent to the little black dress. Every man should have one.


    Black penny loafers with leather soles make for great dancing shoes.

    12 copy


    Thanks, as always, for reading.

    Yours in style,

    Dan Trepanier


    Photography by Alex Crawford

    • nukec

      How do you call that blazer with pockets like that? All I see is blazers with pockets like this: I dont like these pockets. I like your “jacket” “blazer”. Can you give some advice? :) thx

      • Geoffrey Alan Bruce

        Well that wouldn’t be blazer, but rather a suit jacket. And those pockets are flap pockets, as opposed to slit pockets or patch pockets.

    • Richard Leedy

      I’ve been reading this blog for the great although. Keep up the awesome job you are doing here.

    • harga kozui slimming

      wine + cigarette + perfect suit…. those are a perfect combination for a man…..

    • Jakob

      Dan, should you clean your white sneakers? Shouldn’t you just keep them dirty and beat-up?

    • TO

      Great stuff as usual… Even more than usual:)

      I have agreed to disagree with TSB about this before (the black business suit) citing examples such as:

      (…mid 60s Miami hotel business interpretation from “Magic City” tv show)

      But, I would agree it limits the suit/tie options, and takes a certain person to pull off, and simply may not be acceptable/sppropriate in “Corporate” business settings as pointed out here.

      Also, I love this new inspiration/info (some new to me!)

      • Alan

        I think the key with black in a corporate setting is that a charcoal or oxford grey suit would almost always be a better choice.

        Occasionally in the City, I used to see people (generally men 45+) ‘strolling’ in their black jacket, dove grey waistcoat and spongebags. So the idea that black is a no-no for daytime is a relatively new idea. But even morning dress is done with a dark grey coat more often than not now, so black in the daytime is fighting gravity a bit.

        I have an Oxford grey suit (which means 75-85% black threads)with a subtle check and peak lapel – it suits my skin-tone better, it’s definitely more business appropriate but also works as a night-time suit in most situations; I get a bit hot in clubs to wear a suit mind.

        • TO

          Enjoyed reading your response, Alan. I’m sure I could web-search it, but I’d rather ask- what are “spongebags”? Funny name, Haha.

          Sounds like a beautiful suit you own. Also, where do you live?

          *appropriate (from previous post:)

          • http://undefined Alan

            Spongebags = cashmere stripe trousers i.e. black, silver, white and charcoal grey in various combinations. Generally worn as part of daytime formal or semi-formal wear (houndstooth and checked trousers can be worn however).

            • Alan

              Oh, and I live in Brighton (a very hip seaside town) in England currently – but have spent most of my life living in London.

              The suit I referred to was made by Jaeger and cost £160 ($250) new with two pairs of trousers – from an online clearance at House of Fraser.

    • KD

      Excellent post – but I feel that if you only have one black suit, I’d stick with notch lapel for the purpose of it being your go-to for funerals. The peak lapel would look best in most other situations, but for a somber occasion such as a funeral, peak lapel might be a bit too flashy. Thoughts?

      • http://undefined Alan

        A peak lapel is the accepted standard in formal and semi-formal daywear, it’s perfectly fine for funerals.

    • Daniel

      Loving the minimalism in look 2

    • cam

      nice post dan! should’ve went with the jordan 1’s in look 2 #OG

    • M.

      Love the look #2
      I would rock low-top Air Force 1’s with that outfit, too.
      But I have to say, the jacket in #1 and #3 really looks small this time. I also noticed that in the last (video post).
      I mean, just look at the sleeves.
      Is this a sign of leaning towards shorter and shorter, slimmer and slimmer styles, inevitably leading to clothes being half a size small?

      • Dan Trepanier

        Thanks for the support M. Both jackets you mentioned are bespoke, cut just the way I like them.


        • M.

          Then it might the poses, because all of you
          always look sharp and fitted in suit jackets.
          Or just my perspective, then again, I’m here to learn from people more experienced than me and I’m glad I got an answer.
          Thanks, you are making great improvements in my style daily, I plan on emailing you guys in the following months, with before and afters.

    • fan

      Dan, look 2, with the black jeans and henley with the black suit jacket…that is probably a top five look on how to wear suit separates casually and practically, I have done this many times. For a long time i only owned one suit, a black peak lapeled slim suit..i wore the jacket as a blazer with dark black or charcoal jeans and some all white sneaks..I am so glad u did this combo…it makes me confident that I was doing things the right way..!

      Praise to Allah, now i have many more suits but this is a great post! Black suits can be versatile too ppl!!!

    • Samuel

      How many white dress shirts and blue shirts we should have for office wear or gala ?

    • dagobertinax

      love the 3 looks

    • Pete

      Love the beat up bit loafers.

      • Dan Trepanier

        Word. Good shoes become great shoes after they’re broken-in.

    • Dan

      Great feature! I really look forward to logging on and seeing what new feature you guys have put up, haven’t been dissapointed yet. Found lots of inspiration on this site, keep up the great work.

    • Aaron

      Does you being paid by gillette have any influence in you keeping a patchy beard?

      Pretty good site, but tip; stop featuring yourself

      • Dan Trepanier

        Absolutely not. And thanks for the business advice Aaron.

      • Sergio

        Tip: Apparently it’s worked very well, featuring himself…

      • Dave


        Aaron, tip for you: nobody is forcing you to visit this website.


      • Michael

        If you saw the last video, Dan does mention wanting to feature other people on the site other than himself.

      • Sam

        You do realize this is his style blog, Aaron?

      • http://undefined Liam

        Also, I would say that more and more of the posts are “__________ featuring ________”, so he’s definitely working on it.

    • Kristopher

      Ok. The people NEED to know. What are the running totals for shoes and suits in the closet. I’ve legit been wondering this for years. Appease the people and come clean with the numbers. Numbers don’t lie. hahah

      • Dan Trepanier

        Haha Why does it matter? I’ve never felt the need to count these things. I’ve been collecting for years and have clothes and shoes stored in multiple places, many of which have never been featured on the site…which makes it difficult to know.

        More than any one person needs, for sure, and probably more than you think ;)


        • Samuel

          I think the way Dan talk is you need to see your wardrobe as a long term investment and no short term and without respecting any quantity rules

    • Samuel

      Love all the outfits and that’s true that black suits start to coming out of the office. Still a must in your wardrobe.

      Also Dan, yesterday I listen to all the YouTube episode and congrats on your blog and clothing lines hope the best for you and your team.

      Samuel R. Demers follower

    • El Zilcho

      I don’t know how things are done in New York (I’m from Texas), but if you’re the guy at the dive bar in suit jacket, you’re also the guy no one likes. Nothing wrong with dressing nice, but I would just save that look for elsewhere. Maybe dive bars are different in New York.

      • Dan Trepanier

        Haha damn…tough crowd in Texas! Yea, I would say the bar scene is different in NYC.

        • El Zilcho

          I’ve just personally never been a big fan of the suit jacket/jeans combo. It always looked a little “try-hard” to me. Anyways, keep up the good work!

          • Marcus Forlan

            Too bad. It is one of the best dressy casual looks out there.

      • Marcus Forlan

        Haha. Will have to keep in mind when I am in Texas!

    • Misha

      I think the rule about black suits are not the same for everyone. One person can pull of a black suit in a corporate setting (for example my uncle who has been wearing black suits since forever), and another person can’t. In my opinion it all depends on the “aura”.
      Anyway, a great post!


      • Dan Trepanier

        Of course, it depends on the person, and his career.

        What I meant is that black suits are not ideal for corporate settings.


    • Ian

      Look 2 is the coolest of the 3! Loving the Sneaker suit combo. With so many clothes how do you decide what to wear!?

      • Dan Trepanier

        Thanks Ian. Look 2 is my favorite of the 3 as well. Usually whatever is most accessible at the time…


    • John

      Love the casual look! Great post!

    • Omar Shaikh

      I seriously dig that rag&bone Henley.

    • Marshall Mulherin

      Shoe game on point doe.