If you think m the term monochromatic sounds like an illness, or one of those trying a little too hard to be sophisticated fancy fashion words that they love to throw around on Project Runway, you’re not alone. Okay, I admit for a while I was like, “Oh yeah, monochromatic is so good!” but in my head I was all, “What the heck is monochromatic?!” Eventually I figured it out… when I googled it. From the Merrium Webster definition:
mono·chro·mat·ic mä-nÉ™-krÅ-Ëˆma-tik\ : having or consisting of one color or hue
Ah ha. So that’s the definition of monochromatic, and when applied to fashion, it means dressing in one color from head to toe. Perhaps this is basic kindergarten level style information to you fashionistas, but the rest of us have to fend for ourselves on good ol’ reliable Google.
Seems everywhere I look, monochromatic outfits are popping up in full force this season from the styling in the JCrew.com gift guide, to the front of In Style magazine and beyond. Now there was a time when I thought wearing all one color was a big no no, a total fashion faux pas. Perhaps you are thinking the same thing… no sir! But it is hip, and it is happening, and nowadays I am going for the one shade style on a regular basis. Monochromatic styling can be a little bit daunting, and like most creative dressing, it’s a matter of experimentation with a bit of trial and error.
If you are new to the one hue game, I’ve got a few tips and 6 current looks to help get you started!
Let us begin!
Paint It Black 1 of 13
Let's start with basic black! Black is classic, timeless, flattering, and it comes in every shape, size, and style. Basically, you will have lots of options to choose from. However, a word of caution, black is deceptively tricky and can quickly turn goth, or make you look like you are dressed for a funeral. Again, it's about trial and error.
The first tip is to look in your closet and start pulling out all of the pieces you have in the color of your choice. Look for different tops and blouses, pants, jeans or skirts, tights and shoes, now it's time to have some fun! In order to pull off the monochromatic style, it's all about balance and mixing up textures. For example, as you see above I paired my faux leather detail leggings (that I wore in this post), with a shiny silky crinkle hi-low blouse, and my shoes are black velvet with a snake skin ankle strap. Mixing these textures gives the look depth and keeps it interesting and modern.
leggings from Forever 21 no longer available
Accessorize 2 of 13
When it comes to accessorizing, you have a bit more freedom. I like to try and incorporate the hue into the piece, and I particularly like this long gold tassel chain necklace. I love the large rhinestone, and the black tassels at the bottom that tie the whole look together.
Metallica 3 of 13
Tis the season to be sparkly! The racks are stacked with sequins and metallics for you to shine in for the holidays. (Alhough this silver combo would work for a night on the town nearly any time of the year!) Though I love mixing my silvers and golds, when it comes to monochromatic metallics, your best bet is likely to stick with one shade and, again, try to play around with textures. The sequin top is bold and full of sparkle, while the linen pants have more of a subtle shimmer. To top it off, I wore a pair of pewter snake skin heels that just barely peek out from under the pants.
Purchase a similar Alice and Olivia Top for $237
My Alice and Olivia pants are from several seasons ago. Find a similar pair here for $242
Add More Sparkle 4 of 13
As for accessorizing with this silvery sparkly ensemble, it's best to keep it simple and let the clothes shine. I opted for my official GWG glitter frames (DIY). Since I was wearing my hair up, I decided on this sleek pair of southwestern inspired silver earrings that add just enough of the right stuff.
Any of your own silver jewelry would work!
Lady in Red 5 of 13
Ready to take it up a notch? So now you've got the basics down, mixing your textures. Now let's talk about mixing your shades within color families. Red, for instance, has so many different hues. This season we are seeing pairings of bright red with shades of dark maroon, and so that is exactly what I went for with this particular look. Also, I'm playing with the shape and silhouette of the chunky turtleneck poncho sweater and the sleek ankle pant. This might be my favorite look of the whole bunch. I've had these old red faux snake print Jeffrey Campbell pumps in my closet for over ten years, but they still look great and worked perfectly with this outfit.
Red Rounds 6 of 13
To finish off this look, I found these amazing oversized round sunglasses in a clear orangey red that added more dimension to my color pallet. Also, you got to rock the red lip. It's mandatory. How great is red!?
Sunglasses only available in-store at Old Navy
Hey Nude 7 of 13
Moving right along with Monochromatic 101! Let's chat about patterns! Another way to add visual interest and break up your one color combo, is to mix up the prints and patterns in your pieces. I had this lazer printed, faux leather circle skirt and wanted to find something that played off that circular pattern. I found just the right thing with this snake print blouse in neutral tones, it adds loads of visual interest. Another tip to consider when you're mixing prints, is to think about the size of the pattern. If you have a finer print on the bottom like my skirt, opt for a larger scaled print up top, or vice versa.
Tan Twirl 8 of 13
Had to add in a twirl just because...
Nude Shoes and Loo 9 of 13
Also had to include this pic for obvious reasons. That's my girl Londy Loo, she isn't monochromatic but she loves to stand on her head in the middle of our mini-shoot. Oh, and the shoes are from TopShop last season. I kept them close in shade, with a nice white heel for a little kick. Not exactly comfortable, but they look good.
Purchase a similar look here for $120
It’s Not Easy Being Green 10 of 13
Now it's time to combine all of the things that we've learned into one look. Ready to go for the green? In this look, I combine the textured sweater with the shear, flow-y button down and denim. Ii'm using different hues: spring green, mint, dark green, and olive. Take note of the floral pattern on the button down blouse and how this really adds vibrancy and dimension to the whole look. I don't have a lot of green in my wardrobe, but I can say that after putting this ensemble together, I am ready for more green in my life!
Go Green 11 of 13
Oh yes, and the necklace! The statement necklace is back in action. I found this dark olive green and gold necklace that complimented the shoes almost perfectly.
White Rabbit 12 of 13
I love an all white look, so I kept it seasonal in winter white. Sometimes white can be tricky to pair together. In this particular outfit, I kept the shades quite similar. It is more about the silhouette of the blousy top and the long trouser pant with the button details. Keeping the hue similar from top to bottom really elongates your look. I've had this shirt in my closet since my time on American Idol and I love the way that it pairs with my old Gap pants. I probably bought them five years ago and they are still in perfect condition. The trouser is my favorite cut. As for the necklace, I went with a vintage gold tassel necklace and a statement ring on my right hand.
Monochromatic Master 13 of 13
You are officially a monochromatic master, now go out into the world and rock one color head to toe for all the world to see!
Photos by Priscilla Chang