1 Skirt 3 Ways: Achromatic Style

Work and Play

Happy day, Reader Dear!

We’ve been playing with Achromatic and Monochromatic looks this month in the Style Reset subscription group. That meant I needed to pull together some Achromatic looks myself!

But how do you do that and still create interest?

As a reminder (Or possibly an introduction?) Achromatic is an underappreciated adjective.

Achromatic simply means Without Color. A=Without, Chroma=Color. So an Achromatic outfit is one without color. The non-colors are Black and White. AND all the shades of Grey you can make with B&W!

That means an all black outfit is Achromatic.

So is an all white outfit.

AND an all grey outfit.

An outfit made up of black and white? Black and grey? White and grey? Black and white and grey?

ALSO Achromatic!

The term Achromatic is almost unrecognized because most style bloggers (not trained in color or color theory) unknowingly call Achromatic outfits Monochromatic. (Pet peeve alert! Phone editing app filters don’t help.) We’ll get into what Monochromatic really means in another post!

Today I’m taking one skirt and creating three different Achromatic looks with it, for varying Overall Values, Value Contrasts and Vibes! Let’s go.

The Skirt

Style Tip

Mixing pattern, texture, silhouette and shades of black/white/grey go a looooong way to keeping an Achromatic look interesting!

Look One

Today’s first look is sassy boss vibe. The skirt pattern (Why is it a pattern and not a print?) and boots keep the jacket from looking staid. This jacket and skirt combo would be great for someone with Dark, Cool Coloring and a higher Value Contrast than I have! Dressing in harmony with your coloring rather than fighting it creates a Face Focus rather than a Body Focus.

You can see how your eyes are dragged away from my face to the dark jacket and boots. I’m happy to wear it and break the rules, though.

Look Two

Or is that two and three? I decided to do this pairing two ways! With the boots would be better for someone with dark hair. Why? Because, TNT. The look on the right is better (Or would be if my legs weren’t quite so pasty white!) for my light hair. Again, I’m happy to break the rules, but you can see how the boots drag your eye down away from my face…

Mixing up the animal print with sequins adds interest without adding color. As for proportion, I need to play with tucking and untucking this tee. The tuck with the boots looks better.

Look Three

Here’s one I can see wearing on repeat when the weather gets hot! (I love light achromatic looks for a cool feeling in hot weather.) With sandals, of course! The shirt is lighter than my overall coloring, but is more flattering than the black jacket. The color, not the shape. The shape of the jacket rocks. That’s why I still own it!

Another win with this outfit is the proportion. Tucking in a white shirt would create an unflattering 1:1. This 2:1 (Top to Bottom) is more flattering. The same tips for looking good in shorts apply to shorter skirts! Flats or sandals would take this pairing to everyday cool, running errrands, coffee date or really anywhere!

How About You?

Were you already familiar with the term Achromatic? Have you seen others use Monochromatic where they should use Acromatic? Do you like Achromatic looks on you? What’s your favorite combination? Which of the three/four above do you like best? Would suit your coloring? I do so love to hear from you… Please share! XO

Stylishly yours,


  • Kathleen McDermott

    Enlightening post. (Re-read linked posts.) Yes, familiar with Achromatic, and bloggers I follow always use Monochromatic for any single color outfit – usually white or black! The outfits you posted are excellent teaching tools – a picture is worth a thousand words. I like the tnt OUTFIT with black boots and blazer (I’d like a silver brooch on the jacket), however YOU are absolutely Prettiest! in the last outfit, regardless of fit or silhouette. Not fond of all black jewelry, so would not use that to “top”, but do use black jewelry that includes sparkle, pearls and silver. Fascinating to think about the biology behind what pleases my “eye” and what bothers it. Usually instinctive for me – when I commit style mistakes, it’s due to not allowing enough Forethought to put the right elements together or being too Lazy or Late to hunt through massive wardrobe elements throughout house to locate perfect items. Annoys me all day. I want to wear a sign that says “I’m not clueless. I know this isn’t working!”. Thank you for this thought-provoking post and the nudge it gives me to focus on this critical element.

    • Liz K

      I want the same sign, Kathleen! Some days it works in the mind, but when the outfit ends up on the body, the brilliance is lost in translation… And you are most welcome for the nudge! XO


    Thanks for making me think!! You always do. While I like the look of the boots with the skirt, I do see how they become the focal point by drawing your eyes to them and away from your PRETTY face. While the white top really brings the eye upward to your face. Genius. You are so clever.

    • Liz K

      I’m not sure clever is the word, Leslie, but thank you! It’s really about biology, optics and training! If I had dark hair (Again.) the dark boots would work perfectly… Alas.

  • Gail Joan McKelvey

    Loved seeing this post. Mostly that is how I dress and didn’t even know I was doing a “thing!” Is the value finder something that is “out there” someplace? I would love to see one with brown. Also a question, how does “the warm grey vs the cool grey” enter into this value finder? I didn’t really notice that in the value finder or is that because I was looking at this on my computer? I was just telling a friend about your TNT! It seems so weird, but it just plain works! Thanks for what you do!

    • Liz K

      You are most welcome, Gail! The value finder doesn’t take warm into account, it’s merely achromatic pure white to pure black. There are a variety of color tools available online. The Magic Palette Color Matching Guide does something similar for colors, but not from 10 to 1. As for cool vs. warm, I’ve not seen any particular tools to help discern those. I use my color swatch cards, my eye and good light. When you say this is mostly how you dress, do you mean Achromatic? Or are you referring to the mix-and-match quality of the outfits?

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