How to Rock the Monochromatic Look

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“Mono” means one and “chromatic” refers to color. Put them together, and you have a fashion trend that’s not always as simple as it seems: wearing just one color. Dressing monochromatically isn’t just for lazy days when you don’t feel like mixing and matching an outfit! Just like all things in fashion, how you style the look makes all the difference. 

Here are seven tips to help you master monochromatic fashion.

Photos by Vladimir Yelizarov, Nikita Shirokov  Raphael Lovaski via Unsplash

1. Start With a Favorite Piece

 Photos by Vladimir YelizarovNikita Shirokov & Raphael Lovaski via Unsplash

If you’re new to monochromatic fashion, simply start with a favorite piece, and then build around it. For example, pairing a little black dress with black leggings, a black purse, and black shoes is a simple yet very effective way to put together a monochromatic aesthetic with an upscale high-fashion feel.

On the other hand, say you have a hot pink top that you adore, but it just feels too flashy when paired with your more traditional clothing. Instead of trying to tame it, embrace neon fashion by pairing it with a hot pink skirt, pumps, and a purse to match.

2. Mix Shades 

Photos by Brian Lawson, Ben Iwara & Michael Dagonakis via Unsplash

Monochromatic fashion doesn’t have to be limiting! From neons to neutrals, you actually have a whole lot of colors to work with, especially when you consider how many different color tones there are. 

For example, a purple chromatic outfit doesn’t have to be only classic purple. Incorporate other shades, like mauve, lavender, plum, and violet. You’ll still have that monochromatic vibe, but the complementary shades will add some visual excitement to your outfit.

3. Blend Textures

Photo by Nick Karvounis via Unsplash | Confete Eyelet Blue Flavie Dress, $264 | Mango Denim Oversized Jacket $60

Layering and monochromatic fashion go hand-in-hand. Mixing various fabrics is a great way to make a chromatic outfit more multi-dimensional. You could pair a light-wash denim jacket with a sky-blue dress, for example. Monochromatic fashion lets you get more creative with fabrics because the color ties them together.

4. Don’t Overlook the Accessories

Photo by Na sen via Unsplash | Moda Luxe Chantal Crossbody $60 | Photo soha sh via Unsplash

The right accessories add the perfect finishing touch to a monochromatic ensemble. Say you’re wearing a vibrant color like Kelly green. A bold and bright purse in the same hue would instantly make the outfit more cohesive. 

Even subtle accessories can have a big impact in a monochromatic context. Imagine wearing green dangling earrings, or hoop earrings, and matching heels too! Maybe you wouldn’t typically choose those accessories on their own, but with everything working together, the outfit has a deliberate look that really makes bold color choices pop. Go all out!

Hair and makeup count as accessories too! Even something subtle like a hair tie can add that polished touch that makes an outfit more cohesive. Some matching eyeshadow or lipstick can be a fun addition too! 

5. Keep It Classy in Black or White

Moda Luxe Keekee Crossbody, $70 | Oh Polly Marina Mini Dress $48 |Clark’s Women’s Linnae Up Boot $87

When in doubt, you really can’t go wrong with an all-black or all-white outfit. As you can probably tell by now, monochromatic fashion isn’t always straightforward, but it absolutely can be! Sometimes, minimalism just works. And, you can easily add an elegant touch to a casual outfit by wearing some nice women’s boutique shoes or boots.

Dressing monochromatically can be very convenient. Putting together a capsule wardrobe (a simple collection of complementary neutral pieces) is a great way to incorporate monochromatic fashion into your life.

6. Experiment With Anchor Patterns

Photos by Elaine Rystead & Brooke Cagle via Unsplash | Cupshe Elaina Belted Leopard Dress $30

Okay, so this tip is technically duo chromatic, but it’s close enough, and fashion rules are meant to be broken! Try building your outfit around one anchor piece with a bold pattern. 

For example, say you have a dress with leopard print. That gives you two colors to work with: brown and black. You could wear black tights and shoes and then add a subtle splash of brown with accessories like your shoes and handbag.

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women in colorful dress posing in front of white wall

This approach definitely still has that monochromatic kind of feel because brown and black are combined into one piece with the leopard pattern, so you’re simply separating that pattern into its individual colors. The point is that the outfit is focused and cohesive.

7. Build Off of Shirt Prints

Photos byOSPAN ALI via Unsplash,Dmitriy Ganin &Displaced by Design via Pexels

Similar to anchor patterns, you can build the rest of an outfit based on a print on your top. Let’s say you have a white t-shirt with a yellow smiley face print. You could wear white or yellow pants to create a (mostly) monochromatic aesthetic that really makes that smiley face pop. 

Wearing one highly dominant color is a fun way to put together an outfit that’s heavily influenced by monochromatic fashion while still keeping a little bit of contrast in the mix. 

Express Yourself Without Limit

Photos by Bruce Christianson via Unsplash, Vlada Karpovich & Adrian Calle via Pexels

First and foremost, fashion should be fun! These tips will help you incorporate the monochromatic style into your personal style,  but try not to overthink it. If you love how an all-black outfit looks with a white purse, don’t feel obligated to carry a black one.

Dressing monochromatically is just one way to elevate your look—the possibilities are endless. Keep learning about fashion, and pull your favorite elements from all sorts of styles. That’s the key to keeping fashion exciting.

Article by Tess DiNapoli

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