After seasons of pops of color, the clean contrast of black and white has returned to the runway in a big way, and with the return to minimalism, this color combination hasn’t looked so sweet since the ubiquitous cookie. Like said deli dessert, it all started in New York. Not to say New Yorkers ever really ditched their signature uniform of all black, but spring 2013 menswear collections by the likes of Michael Bastian, Phillip Lim, Rag & Bone, etc. eased up on the cobalt and burnt orange of 2012 and upped the black and white graphics. The two latter designers used black and white in abstract doodles that filled sweatshirts, dress shirts and accented blazers. Tommy Hilfiger of course found the WASP in his ode to Hamptons off duty. That oversized bag is particularly preppy and swank.

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The European collections also showcased all the hues that are fit for print with Lanvin embracing the school boy uniform in classic but slim cuts that will make you think about going back for that second degree. Jean Paul Gaultier filtered his familiar sailor motif through a “Pirates of the Arabian Sea” prism. The result was stark black and white broad stripes and turbans that felt both modern and mythical at the same time. Balenciaga’s historical focus was more Man Ray with Dada style black and white graphics that feel like they were torn from the closet of Marcel Duchamp if he wore t-shirts.

However, if you’re still feeling comfortable in your colors and just want a touch of black and white, many scarfs and ties offer the chance to casually court the trend. This Barneys New York houndstooth silk number is mod-fully on point but timeless enough to ride this wave and keep on going when the pendulum swings back to jewel tones.

Whichever path you chose, black and white menswear is a clean and fresh way to showcase your apparel without a rainbow of distractions.

– Mac Smith