In a recent forum discussion on fashion, I was told by a close friend that the ladies in her area (Chicago) all preferred to wear black…black this and black that. Now I have my share of black, mostly skirts, but for an entire wardrobe, well BORING and unimaginable. You need to step outside of your sartorial comfort zone, ladies, and pack a punch with head-to-toe color this year in something other than black.
What is Monochromatic?
What does monochromatic mean and how can you wear it in an outfit? That’s what we’re going over today, including some style tips when putting together monochromatic outfits.
To put it simply, monochromatic is one color represented by differing shades and tints.
For example: If you take blue paint and add white to it in increments, the color of blue would progressively get lighter resulting in a variety of blue tints. If you were to add black to blue, it would get progressively darker, resulting in a variety of shades. The light tints and dark shades of the same color are what we call monochromatic.
Here is one rather dramatic example. The one color of emphasis in this outfit is of course gray. Everything you see in this outfit is gray, with the exception of the blue tint of the sunglasses. I like the contrast of that the shiny gray skirt and subdued gray turtleneck. The sheen of the gray sequined skirt brought another dimension to this monochromatic style, while the sequins themselves added a different texture. Texture is an important element when putting together looks like these. If your monochromatic outfit was comprised of the same fabric throughout, it might come off looking dull. I’ll explain this more in the Style Tips section.
Monochromatic Outfit Style Tips
So, you want to put together a monochromatic outfit. Where do you begin?
You first start by selecting the color you want to wear, making sure it’s one that looks great against your skin tone and hair. The worst thing you can do is wear a color that doesn’t make your skin glow. My fashion expert on color is Terri Ghio of Pretty Me and we’ll be introducing Terri’s creations over the next few months.
The next step is to go into your closet and pull out all of the items you have in the color you want to wear. Make sure to get all pants, skirts, dresses, cardigans, etc. Once you have the items start putting together the outfits!
Here are some style tips to keep in mind when putting together a monochromatic outfit.
Make sure to mix textures! You want to add visual interest, depth, and dimension to your look so it’s not one-dimensional or boring. With my gray monochromatic outfit, the gray skirt was the point of interest. The shiny texture brought this gray outfit to a whole new level.
Some combinations you can try pairing together are denim and chiffon, leather and cotton, suede and silk, wool and sequins.
Remember balance. This goes with every outfit, not just monochromatic ones. You don’t want the one color to overwhelm you. Quite the contrary, you want it to make you look tall and lean. To achieve this, play with proportions. If you’re wearing a billowy top, make sure to pair it with fitted bottoms. If you’re wearing a full A-line skirt, then wear a form-fitting top.
Accentuate the right areas. When wearing the same color in different tints and shades, you want to pay attention to how dark or light a piece is. For example: If you have very wide hips and want to deemphasize them, you wouldn’t wear light-colored pants or skirt. More flattering would be the dark shade of the color on the bottom half and the lighter tint on top. Like dark navy pants and a lighter blue shirt.
Play with pattern. Monochromatic outfits don’t just have to be made up of solid pieces; you can incorporate patterns or prints. To add visual interest and to break up the solid blocks of color, add a print piece made up of the same color you’re working with. You can also try adding a patterned shawl or scarf for fun.
Monochromatic outfits are great for petites. Dressing monochromatically can make you appear taller and slimmer because the outfit is creating one seamless line from head to toe.
If you’re not sure what color to begin with, start with dark neutrals. If you’re new to monochromatic outfits, then start with colors that are neutrals, like black, navy, gray, and brown. If you are feeling brave, you can also try darker richer colors, like burgundy, eggplant, and hunter green. These are the best colors to play with and most likely you already own clothing in these neutral colors.
It’s important to select a color that looks great against your skin tone and hair. For example: If your completion is very fair and you have blonde hair, opt to wear navy instead of harsh black. Women with tanned skin and dark hair could opt for a deeper color like burgundy or eggplant.
Remember these principles
Your look should be tailored but still shapely. Again, if you wear a bigger top, make sure it’s with a more fitted bottom. Style your outfit with understated (yet complementary) accessories in different colors for extra contrast. Also, choose shades lighter or darker than your skin tone, especially when it comes to neutrals. Keep in mind the monochromatic style typically looks best with separates, as it creates one uninterrupted visual line from head-to-toe. Now that you’ve mastered monochromatic dressing 101, you’re probably wondering what this fuss over wearing one color is all about. Well, here are some added benefits to rocking one hue from top to bottom:
Despite how trendy monochromatic dressing is, it’s actually quite timeless in that you’re choosing colors or shades that look good on you — not just what’s in style. And wearing one color is practical, especially when transitioning from season to season. Most importantly, anyone of any size can pull it off, as long as you start with a hue that complements you. Since it’s not as much about design as it is finding the perfect shade, planning outfits and shopping is that much easier when you don’t have as many details to think about.
Wearing monochromatic outfits is not only a simple and clean approach to dressing, but it also elongates your shape — making you appear much slimmer and taller than you actually are. And we couldn’t think of a better style bonus than that.
Now let’s look at some possibilities for you.
Below each color name are some examples and where available, I have provided my Pinterest Album on the Sister House Pinterest Page to show you many more ideas. They really are endless but these are my favorites
The Perennial BLACK