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What Colours To Wear With Black Pants: 7 Foolproof Shirt Options

These are the shirt colours that work best with black trousers, so you can get even more wear out of your current rotation.

There aren’t many things hanging in your wardrobe as versatile as a pair of black pants. Formal or informal, understated or showy, they can do it all – depending on how you style them, of course. Picking the right colour shirt to wear with black pants can unlock your look. You just have to know which shade is right for your style.

The great thing about black is that the colour pairs well with almost any other. That makes black trousers a kind of playmaker piece in your rotation. They platform your shirt collection, taking few plaudits for themselves but doing a lot of the hard work nonetheless. From professional office looks to date nights and beyond, there are countless excellent combinations.

For our money, though, these are the best shirt colours to wear with your black pants. 

Black pants with a grey shirt

In the mind’s eye, black and grey can seem like a flat or boring combo. Done right, it’s anything but. It’s muted and leans casual but it’s also a rich, masculine combination.

Wearing a grey shirt over your go-to black pants is a no-brainer combination for the fall and winter, when the darker colours fit the mood of the season.

To make black pants work with a grey shirt, keep the palette limited but use layering or a change of texture to keep the outfit interesting. It could be contrasting a more formal-looking trouser with a flannel shirt or setting off the whole look with some well-polished boots, loafers or Derbies.

Black pants with an open light grey shirt

Men's black pants, black T-shirt, light grey open shirt and black boots outfit

AllSaints

Black and grey is a fallback option for grungy looks, especially when you leave the shirt open with a tonal T-shirt underneath.

This look has depth and interest thanks to the blend of smart and casual pieces, and the contrast between the sleek black pants, textured grey shirt and chunky boots.

Black pants with charcoal overshirt

Men's black cuffed pants, White T-shirt, charcoal overshirt and white and black sneakers outfit

Reiss

Another example of a look that’s a little bit formal and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. The smart tapered trousers contrast with the denim overshirt up top and below with the box-fresh sneakers.

Notice how the white in the tee and the kicks brings the whole look together, too.

Black pants with grey and white stripe shirt

Men's black pants, white and grey vertical stripe shirt and black Derby shoes outfit

Club Monaco

Black trousers and a grey shirt doesn’t have to be a grunge look, or even a winter look. This outfit shows that with the right shirt, the combo can be playful – the deckchair stripes bringing some summer loving that’s matched by the polished loafers below.

The open collar and rolled sleeves keeps the look casual, too.

Black pants with a black shirt

If it’s good enough for Johnny Cash, it’s good enough for us. There’s always been something quite Western about a combination of black shirt and black pants, but it’s one that’s also been co-opted by rock stars, red carpet hot-steppers and businessmen who want to bring a bit of drama to the boardroom.

All black is quite a statement look, but it’s also one of the easiest. You don’t even have to stress about working in some textural difference (although a little is always recommended).

Depending on whether you’re going formal or casual, it also works with a wide range of footwear. Just remember a lint roller and a pair of sunglasses.

Black pants with open black short-sleeve shirt

Men's black pants, white T-shirt, open black short-sleeve shirt and black sneakers outfit

Rag & Bone

If you think a monochrome look is too strong, keeping the shirt open with a white tee or vest underneath is always a good option. It adds depth to the outfit and gives it a slightly sleazy feel (in a good way).

To make it work, keep the shirt short-sleeved (a camp collar is ideal). Boots, sneakers or loafers – in black, obviously – will finish the look. 

Black tailored pants with black knitted polo shirt

Men's black tailored pants, black knitted polo shirt and black leather slider sandals outfit

Suitsupply

Wearing black pants with a black polo shirt doesn’t sound revolutionary, but there are lots of little touches here that take the outfit to another level.

The textured polo, complete with open collar, gives resort vibes. The same is true of the sandals and sunglasses.

But the really clever touch is tucking the top into what are high-waisted pants. This lets you play with proportions and show off the pleat in the trousers, elongating the leg and elevating the look.

Black suit pants with a black dress shirt

Men's black pants, black dress shirt and black leather penny loafers outfit

Reiss

Almost intentionally boring (and therefore not boring at all), this combination isn’t just for barmen and croupiers.

The simple, fitted black shirt keeps the look pared back and elegant, while the playfulness is all below the ankle.

Going sockless with a pair of loafers keeps the outfit from looking too staid.

Black pants with a blue shirt

Pairing black pants with a blue shirt is less common than blue on navy, especially in a work environment, but it can work with the right styles and shades. Dusty light blues work better than rich azures or royal blues, although a classic indigo work jacket would team nicely with black trousers. Black and navy isn’t the fashion crime it once was, either.

At the lighter end of the spectrum, keep things interesting by adding layers or patterns to the look. Leave the shirt open with a tee, vest or roll neck underneath, or pick a shirt with stripes or prominent breast pockets to make sure there’s some visual interest up top.

Black cropped pants with blue stripe shirt

Men's black cropped pants, tucked in blue striped shirt over a white T-shirt and black leather penny loafers outfit

Mango

This could be boring officewear, but it’s styled in a way that elevates the look to something more interesting and more versatile.

The vertical stripes play off the horizontal lines created by the belt and the cropped trousers while the open collar, rolled sleeves and T-shirt base layer add depth to the look.

For cooler evenings, a tonal knit adds texture as well as insulation.

Black pants with blue overshirt

Men's black pants, black turtleneck, light blue overshirt and black Chelsea boots outfit

Reiss

Combining traditional workwear with modern officewear creates an interesting contrast in a look.

Here, the workwear-inspired overshirt sits above a more formal combination of slim-fit pants, turtleneck and Chelsea boots – the softer fabric and chest pockets bringing to life what would otherwise be a flat outfit.

The dusty blue walks a nice line between earthy and refined, too.

Black loose pants with short-sleeve light blue shirt

Men's loose black pants, white vest, light blue short sleeve shirt and black sandals outfit

AllSaints

Slouchy tailoring with an open Cuban collar shirt brings a bit of LA or Miami to your summer wardrobe.

The wide-fit black pants work perfectly with the floaty linen shirt, while the sandals, vest and chain necklace ground the look at the casual end of the wardrobe.

The light blue looks great against matte black, making this a nailed-on look for lazy summer nights.

Black pants with a brown shirt

Once outlawed by seemingly colour-blind fashion police, black and brown is a rich, grown-up colour combo that sits right in the middle of the smart-casual spectrum.

Black pants with a brown shirt, polo or suede jacket is a good fallback for date nights or casual offices.

The earthiness of the brown shines against the more severe black, and it’s a trans-seasonal team-up that looks as great in the winter as it does in the summer

Black pants with brown polo shirt

Men's black cropped pants, brown polo shirt and black sandals outfit

Mango

A prime example of how black pants can set off the richness of a brown top, this affordable chestnut polo looks like a luxury statement piece.

These are all casual summer staples – track-style pants, linen shirt, polo shirt and sandals – but again that colour contrast makes them feel smarter and more considered. 

Black sweatpants with brown work shirt

Men's black jeans, retro running shoes and brown overshirt outfit

Rag & Bone

A more dressed-down way to play with black and brown, the light tone of the shirt helps its texture shine through, especially against the black sweatpants.

The contrast tee poking out of the bottom is a rogue touch, but it works, while the sandy, suede sneakers ground the whole look. 

Black pants with light brown shirt

Men's black pants, white vest, open light brown shirt and black canvas sneakers outfit

AllSaints

Another example of an open shirt looking great with black pants, here the look is a little bit skater and a little bit grungy.

The texture of the shirt is again important – it just wouldn’t work with a poplin cotton – while the vest, sneakers and necklace prove the importance of good accessories.

Pro tip: wear gum-sole shoes when you’re wearing brown to bring the whole look together. 

Black pants with a green shirt

Like black and brown, pairing black pants with a green shirt creates some interesting interplay between the natural tones of the top and the austere black bottoms.

In general, olive and other earthy greens are easier to style than light or bright greens, not least because olive is a flattering colour for all skin tones

You can also play with military references, as well as safari looks, by bringing in textured shirts made of linen, twill or wool.  

Black pants with dark green overshirt

Men's black pants, blue T-shirt, green overshirt and black penny loafers outfit

Frank & Oak

Proof that black pants with a green shirt is an effort-free combination, this smart-casual outfit is a tale of two halves.

The smart pants and loafers contrast with the open shirt and tee, while the addition of petrol blue adds a little depth to the simple, earthy duo of black and green. 

Black pants with light green twill shirt

Men's black pants, grey T-shirt, light green overshirt and running sneakers outfit

GANT

Referencing army fatigues, a light and loose-fitting olive overshirt, complete with big flap pockets, is a great layer all year round and looks fantastic against simple black pants.

Wearing sneakers instead of chukka boots or something similar keeps you on the right side of GI Joe cosplay.  

Black wide pants with green shirt

Men's loose black pants, dark green shirt and light brown suede sneakers outfit

Mango

Loose linen looks great with black and green, the lightweight fabric reminding us of tropical resorts and safari getaways.

Even if you’re not leaving the city, this combo works well for hot commutes and summer nights.

Make the look tonal with a beige or off-white pair of sneakers.

Black pants with a white shirt

It’s a combo as timeless as the suit itself, but wearing black pants with a white shirt is a classic for a reason. The stark contrast between top and bottom is clean, professional and looks great with a two-piece. But you can also riff on those workwear connotations, playing with form or dimensions to create a more subversive look. 

The choice of shirt is key. If you’re going professional, then a sleek poplin version with a cutaway collar is ideal, while Oxford button-downs work for a broader range of occasions. Resort shirts and patterned styles add a little interest on more casual days.

Black suit pants with white dress shirt

Men's black suit pants, tucked in white dress shirt and black oxford shoes outfit

Reiss

The stone-cold classic. Tailored black pants and a fitted white shirt has been a form of power dressing since the early years of the 20th century. Even now, in the age of casual dress, it’s a statement outfit – and one that depends on the details being right.

Most importantly, the fit should be true, especially at the waist and the shoulders, but also at the thighs and the upper arms.

Whether you go tie or no-tie is up to you.

Black pants with white stripe shirt

Men's black pants, white T-shirt, open white stripe shirt, black leather Derby shoes outfit

Club Monaco

Subverting the previous look by playing with proportions and perceptions, this outfit takes the same basic ingredients but cooks them in a very different way.

The tapered black pants are roomy at the thigh. The shirt, while still ostensibly a formal work shirt, is oversized and open, showing the crisp white tee below. And whereas the previous tailored look was finished with a pair of prim and proper Oxfords, chunky Derbies are just the thing for this offbeat take.

Black pants with white Oxford shirt

Men's black pants, white Oxford shirt and cream canvas high top sneakers outfit

Alex Mill

Dressing down this combo is all about the choice of shirt. If you’re picking a silky dress shirt between Monday and Friday, come Saturday, go for something like a button-down Oxford.

The thicker texture of the Oxford cloth makes it more casual and the style looks good untucked, even with tailored black pants.

To anchor the casual vibe, try some off-white (not white – it’s too matchy) sneakers, ideally in canvas.

Black pants with a purple shirt

It’s not a staple like others on this list but wearing a purple shirt with your go-to black pants is a good way to stand out from the crowd. It’s a brave man who’ll dress up in a bold and regal shade of purple, but more muted tones like lavender, lilac and even a jewel-y amethyst all look splendid. 

It’s a colour that shows off texture well, so check out some knitted polos or Oxford shirts. We’d caution against pattern, however. Purple is bold enough by itself – it doesn’t need much help to catch the eye.

Black chino pants with light purple shirt

Men's black chino pants, purple T-shirt, light purple shirt and white sneakers outfit

Frank & Oak

Like mint greens, dusty pinks and other pastels, lavender makes for a less-common, but no-less-awesome Oxford shirt.

More casual than a white or blue version, this works well with black chinos rather than tailored trousers.

Nail the look by rolling the sleeves and grounding the look with some minimalist sneakers.

Black pants with purple dress shirt

Men's black suit pants, purple dress shirt and black leather Derby shoes outfit

Ted Baker

A rogue choice for the office, perhaps, but one that will get you noticed. A purple shirt works well in formal settings (it can also look good at weddings) providing the shade is warm, yet muted.

The tone is flattering for all but the ruddiest of faces, and works beautifully with a slim tailored pant and some high-shine shoes.

Black pants with purple long-sleeve polo shirt

Men's black pants, long sleeve purple knitted polo shirt and black leather shoes outfit

Marks & Spencer

Knitted polos are a good attention-grabber in even the most muted colours. In purple, they’re a real head-turner.

This look lets the top do all the talking, with smart but muted blacks on the lower half. The pin-rolled trousers keep the look just casual enough but the same top would also work with tailored black pants.