While the talk around the nominees at the Academy Awards centered around #OscarsSoWhite, the style conversation was all about #OscarsSoBlackAndWhite. With the exception of Michael Strahan, who for some reason thought a bright blue three-piece suit would look sharp during his red carpet hosting duties, black and white ruled the night for men’s style at the 2016 Oscars. From former Growing Pains star Leonardo Dicaprio to host Chris Rock channeling his Nat X character from SNL, the best dressed men stuck to the classics at this year’s Academy Awards: black tuxedo, white shirt, black bowtie, black shoes. It’s a proven formula and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?
That formula doesn’t just work on the red carpet. A great black-and-white look comes in handy for a lot of reasons. It always manages to be both modern and classic. It transitions well from a day at work to a night out. And it always look sharp.
The other nice thing is that it doesn’t have to suck up an entire rent check if you don’t want it to. We found everything you need for the perfect, go anywhere, works for every occasion black-and-white look at two different prices. So whether you’re a baller or on a budget—or somewhere in between—you can still pull off the monochromatic style that works best for you.
A crisp white button down is the foundation of any outfit, formal to casual. Button it all the way up for a more stark appearance or leave the top two buttons undone to create a more relaxed vibe. A red, white and blue button placket and a patch on the front hem have become the signatures of Thom Browne’s take on the classic shirt. For its part, Topman uses a soft poplin cotton for its white shirt that is neither too shiny nor too drab.
As we move into that transitional season between winter and spring, a cotton sweater becomes a key layering piece. It also provides a bit more polish. A.P.C. uses a thick African cotton that has a great texture to it, especially when combined with the faux suede elbow patches. J.Crew’s cotton cashmere material is a best of both worlds situation. Because it’s coton, the sweater is machine washable, but it still has the warmth and great hand feel of a soft cashmere.
The blazer is what really distinguishes a look and allows you to transition from situation to situation without fear of being either over- or underdressed. In the spring, it also serves as an outerwear piece that you take on and off depending on the occasion. Arc'teryx Veilance uses all the technology that the brand has gained from making skiing and mountainerring gear and puts it to use in more fashionable styles. Uniqlo’s take on the all conditions blazer features a stretch material that allows you to wear it slim and still be able to move. Both jackets are water resistant so you don’t have to worry about the surprise spring shower.
We’ve reached the point where you can basically wear jeans (or even sweatpants) anywhere. But that doesn’t mean you should. A pair of black pants is always going to look more elegant. And when you rock them with a pair of minimal sneakers (see below) it is the very definition of cool. Acne Studios consistently puts out sleek, modern offerings like these cotton pants that have just the right amount of sheen to them. Uniqlo’s pants feature moisture wicking and stretch properties that make them feel as comfortable as your gym clothes.
Inspired by vintage tennis styles, the white leather sneaker has come a long way. Today, just about every brand does a version of it because it hits the perfect sweet spot between relaxed and dressed-up. The Common Projects Achilles has long been revered as the gold standard in the category. This season, CP created a version in a perforated leather that takes the luxury up a notch. Vans has always made simple and excellent sneakers. Its new Court model strips the shoe back to its bare essentials and the results are incredible.