What is Monochromatic Dressing anyway?


Could you also clarify monochrome? I know it’s technically different shades of the one colour but so many magazines and websites are calling black and white together monochrome, so I’m wondering how it works with two neutrals together.

Monochromatic Means

  • Mono = One
  • Chromatic = Colour

So is just means One Colour  it could be all blue (or shades of blue) all green (or shades of green) or even all shades of brown.  That is the technical meaning of monochromatic.   Many people think it means exactly the same colour head to toe, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be.

You can choose a dark version of a colour and that can act as your neutral, and then team some lighter versions of that colour for interest.
Navy, deep burgundy, deep forest green and brown can work as neutrals to hold your outfit together.

monochromatic dressing in brown


monochromatic dressing in blue
monochromatic dressing in red


Dressing in Black and White (and grey) should actually be called Achromatic – as black and white are without chroma (colour).
achromatic dressing in black, white and grey


So you can see that monochromatic dressing is not dressing in black and white at all – it’s dressing in one colour at a time and doesn’t have to be the same value (or shade) of colour either, which means you can get your ideal value contrast using different light/dark combinations of one colour in an outfit.
Monochromatic outfits can be fun and interesting – remember you can also vary textures and sheens of fabrics to bring more life to a one-coloured outfit.
Not sure if monochromatic outfits are for you or not?  Can’t figure out your value and colour contrasts?  Then join my 7 Steps to Style program to find out the answers to these questions plus so much more – it’s an investment in your style that will repay itself in a short time.

More Tips on Monochromatic Outfits

How to Look Taller – Monochromatic Dressing

How to Make a Monochromatic Outfit Interesting



I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • If I have a complimentary colour contrast, I shouldn’t wear monochromatic, right? (Fair skin, brown hair, green-grey-blue eyes)?

    What does silver/gold count as?

    I have wondered about colour contrast, I take it it comes down to eyes and hair colour? But then our eyes are relatively small if looked at from afar and colour can’t always be seen, do they really make that much of a difference to the whole of the outfit?

    I wondered the same about value contrast, in this post https://insideoutstyleblog.com/2014/03/getting-your-value-contrast-levels-right.html
    esp medium contrast girl, if she had her roots done, proportionally compare the space her hair and skin (lots) vs the eyes and eyebrows take up (little)!? But the dress you indicated for her is 50-50% light vs medium colour?

    • Susie – you are not truly complementary – red hair – green eyes is more complementary, brown and green eyes is more neutral plus a colour.

      Silver – is shiny grey (neutral)
      Gold is shiny yellow (colour)

      Eyes, hair and skin – some people have more coloured skin – it looks orange, yellow or pink. Generally there may be a proportional amount that relates, but we talk to people up close, not from afar, so I dress people for that close communication.

      • Many thanks!

        Neutral and a colour? So I should wear a neutral and one colour ideally? Perhaps a full post clarifying this would be needed! I am intrigued now, as here
        you said that brown hair and blue eyes were complimentary.

        And you always described yourself as complimentary (with your former hair colour). Personally, 1. my skin would not be colour, but I’d equate with white, 2. my hair is between dark and medium brown and 3. my eyes are green-grey-blue depending on what I wear, not as definitely blue as yours, but overall my colouring is not far from your former colouring (when you had dark brown hair), esp as I’m cool and bright and my value contrast is most certainly high.

    • The brown one is high contrast (light top, dark jacket, scarf has both light and dark in it)
      The blue one is medium – dark with medium blues
      the Red one is medium low – red with burgundy

  • Hi Imogen, you always have wonderful ideas and tips and look beautiful. I am also changing my hair color, currently just a golden blonde and I intend to get to a very very light shade just ash. The problem is no longer what colors to use, and especially how to choose a base color. I feel my skin is less warm, but I do not think it is cool yet. I like the taupe colors, teal and mustard. What suggestions do you have for those that are changing color? Thank you very much.

  • Thanks for clarifying about the black and white. For some reason so many magazines and style blogs keep calling black and white together as monochromatic. I have no idea why and it’s annoying.

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  • Hi Imogen. I have an ecru/cream summer lacey dress I wish to make an outfit of. How should I accessorize it in order to achieve a high-contrast monochromatic look with it? Would the ecru be considered a neutral for this purpose?

    • Ecru is pretty neutral – so if you want to add high contrast you’d need to add another neutral in the brown spectrum – it could be a cardigan or bolero or some jewellery that is dark to create the high contrast you’re after.

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