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Monochromatic outfits are surging in popularity. Many people think the concept means limiting your clothing to gray, white or black, but it’s really about using any single consistent color throughout your ensemble. 

Michelle Obama made a notable monochromatic fashion statement at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, and Jake Gyllenhaal has been known to follow this style at some awards shows.

Queen Elizabeth II was probably the most prominent example, as she wore color-consistent outfits throughout her seven-decade reign, down to hats and umbrella trims. Dressing this way is a growing trend in men’s outerwear for several reasons. Many men find it calming and psychologically beneficial. At the very least, it can make it easier and quicker to choose the clothes you’re going to wear each day.

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What Are Monochromatic Outfits?

While monochromatic outfits might be a modern trend, the roots of the word monochrome go all the way back to ancient Greece. The Greek word “monokhr?matos” means “of a single color.” The “of” part is crucial because monochromatic outfits derive from one source color, but the elements aren’t always the same. Different elements of your outfit might be various shades or tints.

The creativity comes in subtle details, such as drapery, patterns and fit. One popular misconception about monochromatic dressing is that everything needs to be solid. You can dress that way if you want, but incorporating different textures and patterns into your various garments brings a more sophisticated vibe to your look.

Monochromatic Outfit Ideas

With the right clothes, you can pull off a monochromatic look in any color. However, if you’re just starting off, you might try taking a minimalist route with muted colors. These include black and gray, but you can also venture safely into white, navy and beige.

The Man in Black

Going all black is a timeless style where you can look and feel great without worrying about current trends. Be sure to layer your outfit — a simple way of doing this is just adding a third piece. Avoid incorporating too many layers, though, as that will make keeping the harmony harder to do.

Do experiment with textures and patterns because involving visual interest is harder to do with dark colors. Consider various shades and tints to vary the brightness of the black source hue of your outfit. Start with a good pair of men’s jeans, and then choose your shirt and jacket.

Embrace the Season (Browns, Reds, etc.)

You can rock the best monochromatic outfits in any season. And you can get in the spirit of any season by wearing clothes that match the vibe of the time of year. Here are a few ideas on being stylishly monochromatic no matter where you are on the calendar.

  • Summer: Wearing an all-white ensemble is classic beach attire. Feel fresh and light by putting on off-white trousers with a white button-down made from soft cotton, then accessorize with a white beaded necklace or bracelet. Other colors you can experiment with in the hottest time of year include pastel yellow, green or orange.
  • Fall: Going all-brown is a great vintage look for a monochromatic autumn style. Khaki pants, a beige vest and a dark brown blazer get you ready for formal occasions, or you can look great at more casual occasions by rocking a dark turtleneck under a lighter-shaded peacoat with light brown men’s boots.
  • Winter: Your monochrome outfit at this time of year might start with a leather jacket, blazer or overcoat that you match with pants and a vest to keep your body warm and your style hot. Accessorize nearly any winter outfit with a silver chain, but spice up the look with patterned textures or checkered materials so your outfit has visual depth and intrigue.
  • Spring: This is the time of year when monochromatic outfits should feature a splash of color. Throw on a green pullover with pants or shorts in the same shade for a casual look great for running errands or spending time outside. To catch even more attention, add a bit of white to a monochromatic red ensemble.
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Different Occasions

In addition to different monochrome outfits for each season, you can polish your look for a variety of different events.

  • Remote Work: A consistent single color for both your trousers and sweatshirt can be a monochrome statement for a day of working from home or keeping it casual at school. Light-blue loungewear can be a comfortable look while doing remote work, but aim for more weather-friendly fabrics if you have to head out.
  • Hanging Out With Friends: Whether you’re going out for drinks, a party or just a movie, a monochrome outfit can balance style with a bit of goofiness among friends. Bring some flavor to your look with plaids, flannels and fancy prints. Alternatively, don a medium-wash denim jacket in a straight fit.
  • Formal Events: From fancy dinners to actual weddings, black-on-black is a safe choice. However, you might want to innovate with a burgundy outfit of formal pants, a sharp blazer and a matching vest. If you want to up the charisma, involve some velvet. You can always head down the traditional minimalist path with a two-piece suit, but you can also up your game with a matching tie, watch and shoes.
Source: Dragosh Co/Shutterstock

Dress With Style and Confidence

You can achieve a monochromatic look in many different ways, but don’t let the possibilities overwhelm you. Remember the handful of styling tips that apply to this idea.

Start by picking a base shade, then combine several shades similar to it. Put the lighter shades on top with darker shades at the bottom, and use accessories to bring some finishing touches to your ensemble. One of the great secrets to monochromatic outfits, however, is going with whatever makes you comfortable and confident.

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