Five ways to style a black linen suit

The black suit isn’t something to be feared.

Black suits have attracted a bad reputation among many menswear educators, particularly those with a primary focus on beginner-friendly content. In that context, they can be right, as a black suit isn’t something to recommend for beginners. Its execution, especially in a worsted cloth, usually requires either a service job or a level of innate stylishness.

A black linen suit may be heaped into the same pile as any other black suit by these commentators, however I beg to differ (I also beg to differ on the whole topic of black suits best being avoided, but that’s a discussion for another day). The nature of the cloth gives it a much more relaxed appearance, hence making it more approachable. Combining a textured, rumpled and breezy cloth with a decently breezy silhouette gives you, the wearer, a recipe for something that ticks the boxes for any modern suit that you want to wear more than a few times a year. Relaxed, stylish and an absence of buttoned-up stuffiness.

My own decision to jump on this particular idea came at the beginning of the 2021/22 Australian summer, when I found a vintage Polo black linen jacket online, to match the pair of trousers I had in the same cloth – and the same brand – going on two years. It was a gamble ordering it, as there was more chance of the jacket being of slightly different cloth than the pants, but the gamble paid off – it was the same cloth.

The result was a suit that I’ve really enjoyed wearing, particularly on evening occasions – the few that have occurred in respect of the ongoing pandemic – and weekends. The suit itself is fairly simple in design; very softly tailored jacket – seemingly typical for early 90s to mid 00s Polo – with natural shoulders, three button front and flap pockets. Trousers feature a high rise, double pleats and turned cuffs.

The absence of frills makes it a blank canvas to be styled at will. Below are five mostly casual ways that I’ve worn it.

Five ways to style a black linen suit - tailored sartorial suits inspiration
Leopard print rayon shirt, vintage Carrera Panamerika frames, tooled western belt from Midwest Trader, vintage Japanese-made calf tassel loafers.
Five ways to style a black linen suit - tailored sartorial suits inspiration
A tonal black look with MTM denim western shirt and black silk knitted tie. Same frames, belt and shoes as the previous outfit; the belt and loafers are an easy go-to pairing for this suit.
The outfit I felt the best in. Another tonal black look, this time with a Hawaiian shirt from Paradise Found (this is the black Star Orchid print featured in Magnum, p.i.). The watch is a Dan Henry 1962 panda dial on the OEM black leather strap.
Five ways to style a black linen suit - tailored sartorial suits inspiration
The ‘Men in Black’. White linen button down shirt from Proper Cloth, frames and clip ons from Garrett Leight.
Five ways to style a black linen suit - tailored sartorial suits inspiration
A rare pairing with colours. The rayon shirt is a 1980s vintage piece from Korea, and the crocodile belt is a similar vintage. Shoes are from Loake, and the watch is a late 1970s Omega de Ville.

While I’ve largely stuck to tonal pairings for this suit thus far, plenty of ground remains to be covered. Keep an eye on Instagram for more black linen suit fits; and for those of you who have one yourself, tag me in your posts. I’m keen to see how you all rock them.

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With content features ranging from appearances on popular menswear hubs (The Rake, StyleForum, Put This On) to French perfume newsletters and university course readings, Sam is a writer, designer and enthusiast in the fields of menswear and fragrance.

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