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The art of monochromatic dressing

Dressing in varying tones of the same colour is an easy way to streamline your day- to-day outfit choices while also earning serious style points.

Monochromatic dressing may sound like a new-age concept but it’s all relatively straightforward. In simple terms, it means dressing all in one colour – the word “mono” meaning “one” in Greek and “chrome” deriving from “colour”. But in fashion parlance, it means dressing in varying tones of the same colour, with dissimilar textures thrown in to add depth and contrast.

One can’t help but think of the stylish Parisian woman in a cream- coloured trouser suit with oversized sunglasses and a matching coffee cup. But what about men who wish to dip their toes into the monochrome trend?

There are plenty of men in the spotlight who have mastered monochromatic dressing. While the attention may mostly be on his sequin catsuits, pearl earrings and feather boas, Harry Styles pulls off monochromatic looks with aplomb – albeit on the more eccentric end of the spectrum. Whether it’s a blue-jean jumpsuit, a high-waisted pantsuit or the sheer black ruffled Gucci blouse and matching smart trousers he wore to the 2019 Met Gala, Styles’ fashion sense is fearless and fun.

Indeed, dressing in complementary shades need never be dull. British actor Daniel Kaluuya has proved to be a surprise style icon, with his red carpet ensembles consistently appearing on best-dressed lists. The Get Out star favours oversized suits in brown, olive green or black (occasionally going for teal, lilac or all-white to shake things up), teamed with a matching turtle neck in lieu of a shirt, and finished with chains or a brooch. Fellow actor Cillian Murphy may play it relatively safe during awards season, favouring all-black evening wear, but the Irishman has a formidable sense of style. Who could forget the gauzy black shirt and dark pinstripe suit he wore to the Oppenheimer premiere last year?

Stormzy is another A-lister who has really come into his own when it comes to fashion. Whether it’s monochromatic Adidas tracksuits on stage (see also Run-DMC four decades earlier), a heavenly all-white ensemble – complete with cape – worn to the 2022 Met Gala, or even head-to-toe fuchsia pink for the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premiere, the London-born rapper flies the flag for monochrome dressing in a fresh and modern way.

But what lessons from the A-list celebs can we take into everyday life? Choosing the “right” colour depends on many factors – the weather, the season, your skin tone – and, of course, personal taste. There’s a temptation to stick to darker shades in the colder months, but don’t shy away from cream, beige or a pop of colour to break things up a little. Layering and experimenting with different lengths helps to add all-important texture and contrast – and don’t forget to throw in an accessory such as a matching bag or scarf. Smart trousers, a shirt or T-shirt, knitwear and a long coat is a foolproof look. Try Thomas Pink’s Unlined Modern Mac paired with a Merino Wool V-Neck Sweater and striped or plain shirt. There’s a plethora of colours to choose from, so find what works best for you. Neutral hues such as brown, blue, navy or black are good places to start if you want to keep the look subtle. Remember to stick to the same family of colours but don’t make it too matchy- matchy – try to avoid the Harry and Lloyd prom outfits from Dumb and Dumber. And don’t worry if your shoes or tie don’t exactly match; a complementary or even opposing colour (such as crisp white trainers) can add interest to the overall look.

Whether you want to embrace the trend full tilt or are simply curious, the most important rule is to enjoy finding what works for you. As Harry Styles said in a Vogue interview: ‘Clothes are there to have fun with and experiment with... There’s so much joy to be had in playing with clothes.’