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Men have a tendency to stay within their colour comfort zones. Often, that means sticking to the Bs – blue, black, brown and (bits of) grey. Which is fine. If neon’s not your thing, you’re never going to look comfortable wearing it. But sticking slavishly to such a constrained palette can limit how good you look. Great style’s about options, after all.
But – and this ‘but’ is another, powerful B word – if you rethink this default approach as a deliberate way of getting dressed, less can transform, beautifully, into much, much more. Done right, monochrome dressing – wearing shades of a single colour, head to toe – never feels one-note.
This approach to dressing is nothing new, but it’s proved especially popular lately as a way to make a pared-down statement in a world awash pattern and colour. Monochrome dressing is also a smart play in terms of shelf life. When punchier trends inevitably fizzle out, you can still rely on the enduring appeal of a head-to-toe tonal look.
The trick to stopping it feeling samey is to style it that won’t make you feel like a cult follower in Wild Wild Country. To make monochrome distinctive, you just need the right colours and a handful of pieces, combined in ways that lift your whole look. To prove it, we’ve highlighted three different ways you can nail monochrome dressing. They all star B colours and avoid the one B you never want to include: boring.
Why it works: Neutrals are one of the easiest entry points into monochrome dressing, but this look isn’t playing it safe. The contrast between the different shades adds depth, and the looser-fitting silhouettes prevent it from feeling like a uniform.
When it works: Richer colours and longer layers lend themselves to cold-weather months. The relaxed silhouette makes this a solid off-duty weekend look, but with the addition of the suede shoes and long mac, it will pass muster in the office, too.
How to wear it: To make the one-colour look feel more interesting, weave in a spectrum of brown shades, from richer olives to lighter khakis – it will make the whole look flow more harmoniously together. To introduce even more texture, opt for utility and military-inspired pieces, as they often feature things like pocket details or – as with these high-waisted trousers – a double-pleated front.
Why it works: Monochrome dressing is an easy way to make your classic pieces, like a crewneck sweatshirt, trainers, and a pair of light blue jeans, feel more interesting. The palette of cool blues is a departure from greys and neutrals, but it still avoids looking overwhelming. And while the sweatshirt and jeans both come in standard fits, the chunky trainers give it a dynamic finish.
When it works: The classic appeal of each of the pieces make this look perfect for everyday dressing, especially on warmer days when you’re craving cooler colours.
How to wear it: When sticking to the lighter part of the spectrum, you need to avoid colours that feel too matchy-matchy. In pale denim, opt for a top that has a lavender hint to it, and then punctuate your look with a pair of dark navy trainers. Be sure to mix materials, too – the reason this look works so well is because of the balance between soft cotton and rigid denim.
Why it works: Mixing smart with casual plays with expectations and breaks up the monochrome look, while the use of different textures – from the wool blend of the trousers to the supple suede of the jacket – makes for something really tactile. This look also demonstrates how you can anchor a bolder colour, like red, by deploying deeper shades.
When it works: The rich colour and touch-me materials make this perfect for autumn. Formal trousers means you can wear it to the office, but the tee and suede trucker jacket gives it a more relaxed vibe that will carry you into evening drinks.
How to wear it: As we mentioned, the best monochrome looks involve an entire range of tones, so you don’t end up looking like a blob of burgundy. Here, we’ve chosen a light pink tee to layer under the suede jacket and subtly break up a look full of oxblood and aubergine.
Words: Allison Pavlick
Photography: Jamie Stoker
Styling: Millie Rich
Styling assistant: Luke McDonald
You might be back home, but you can keep the vacation spirit alive in the way you dress