What IS Monochromatic Style?

AND What It Isn’t!

Monochromatic Style is NOT boring.

Post complete. LOL!

Happy day, Reader Dearest!

I’ll repeat that.

Monochromatic Style is NOT boring. If it is, it’s the fault of the wearer, not the fact that it’s Monochromatic!

Last week, I wrote about Achromatic Style, the definition of which may have surprised you. As I mentioned, there is a LOT of confusion out there in weblandia about Achromatic and Monochromatic Style.

Monochromatic means of one color. Mono = One, Chroma = Color. So a Monochromatic outfit is one color NOT (as so many think) an all black or all white outfit! You’re smarter than that and know the difference.

I’ve had people tell me, That’s not for me. Monochromatic outfits are boring. Not so! You can find blues in every shade from baby to midnight. They’re all blue. And when worn together they make a Monochromatic outfit. You can find purples from the palest orchid to eggplant. You can see where this is going, right?

Amusingly, those same complainers are wearing black from head to toe… And that’s not boring? Go figure. If you’re stuck in a rut and looking to break the black habit, here’s some ideas to get you started.

Visual Cue

Paint chips from the store are the simplest way to think about Monochromatic combinations. Each color chip is a series of colors from light to dark that all share the same hue, undertone and intensity. Of course, you could wear all the same tone from head to toe, too. It’s up to you!

In Real Life

I LOVED this outfit. Pinks are tints of red. The wine shoes and flower are shades of red. A tint is a hue (called a color by most) mixed with white and a shade is a color mixed with black. I mentioned eggplant above and now wine… Those darned Colored Neutrals are showing up again!

Monochromatic Style Tips

I bet you guessed! Keeping a monochromatic outfit interesting is much like keeping achromatic looks interesting… Mix pattern, texture, shine/sparkle, silhouette and shades of whatever color you choose and YOUR Monochromatic look will never be dull!

Mix tints and shades of the color of your choice! Blues, Oranges/Browns, Greens, whatever floats your boat. (Not black, white and grey, though!) Everything from light to dark will work together if you keep the undertone and/or intensity in the same family. You can also use pattern and/or accessories to tie disparate pieces together.

Here, the beaded necklaces in varying shades of blue add interest and sparkle while tying together the brighter blue of the shoes and navy blue of the sweater with the more muted blue of the jeans. I even splashed on blue eyeliner!

How About You?

What is your favorite color? Or your happy color? Are they the same? Can you shop your wardrobe to create a Monochromatic outfit? What color(s) would it be? Have you played with Monochromatic Style before? Does it appeal? Do tell… I love to hear from you!

Stylishly (and Colorfully) Yours,


  • Cathy in Missouri

    OH – and should you want to lick your chops just a little bit more this morning – speaking of SPLENDID color – if you search for Aidan Aidan Mattox
    Satin Side Cut Out Surplice V-Neck Cap Sleeve Thigh High Slit Wrap Gown on Dillard’s site…

    (Link Removed)

    I will put the link just in case that’s okay. 🙂


    Well, goodness knows — we simply MUST find somewhere fancy to go, now that we see these options! hahaha!


    P.S. You may have guessed – I am helping a friend search out a dress as part of an August wedding coming up. She found this designer herself and I’m simply head over heels for his remarkable talents with lines and structure – not to mention COLOR.

    • Liz K

      I had to remove the link, Cathy, but what a gorgeous dress! Even with the peek-a-boo bits at the side! Your finds are making me wish for another formal event, this time for warm weather!

  • Cathy in Missouri

    Liz – forgive me if links aren’t allowed? But your beautiful post on monochromatic style immediately came to mind when I saw this simply stunning dress : (Link Removed)

    I know it isn’t strictly what you were talking about with the monochromatic style – but I began to think about all the color options with accessories and chiffon wraps or other light coverage for the shoulders should the evening turn chilly.

    I also thought how lovely you’d look in this color. I would love to wear it myself! I have nowhere to go to wear such a dress at the moment – but oh! I will keep it in the back of my mind should an event present itself! 🙂


    • Liz K

      Thank you, Cathy! I needed to remove the link since it wouldn’t open in another window. We don’t often think about making eveningwear monochromatic by blending the accessories; I think that would be an amazing look! Hoping such an event will present itself… Because why not feel like royalty?

  • Sally in St Paul

    Getting the undertone and/or intensity levels right is the biggest challenge for me with a monochromatic outfit of varying “versions” of a color like pink (navy/denim/blue is easier). I’m impressed at how well your pink one came together without any bridge pieces to tie the various pinks together! (I like ombre scarves as a trick for making multiple versions of the color look like they go together.)

    Do you find that shopping to your best personal colors (I don’t remember which color analysis system you use, so “summer” or “sublime” or…) makes putting cohesive monochromatic outfits easier? It seems like it must!

    Then again, to my eye on my screen, your pink pants look warmer undertone than the cardigan, but it still works; maybe because they share a somewhat muted quality?

    Pinning this one for future thought/experimentation!

    • Liz K

      I love these questions, Sally! You are right about scarves; they’re a great bridge for combining colors! Short answer is yes; combining colors and getting the undertones and intensity levels to play well together is SO much easier when you shop your colors. Easier for all outfits, not just monochromatic ones! All the hues in a palette share intensity and undertone; the values differ. For me, that means buying (Mostly!) what works with my Sublime palette. The outlier in this combination is the slightly warmer cami, but since it is soft like the cardigan, it’s not too jarring. (Which surprised me!) IRL the trousers are heathered which helps them blend more easily with different intensities! That may be what you are seeing. Their undertone is definitely cool, but more pink compared to the bluer pink of the cardie

      • Kathleen McDermott

        Another fascinating post. The blue outfit is my favorite and the blues all seem in sync. The pink outfit is very cute, but the darkness (or intensity?) of the shoes bothered me. I noted that the blouse is warmer than the other 2 pieces, but is gentle enough to work. Re: TNT: I do like the flower, but it too seems intense? compared to the other pinks, but if the shoes were softer, I’d like it better. Your thoughts? Also, I understand that pink is a Tint of red (white mixed in), but I am confused that a Shade is a Color mixed with red. Not any Color, right? KM of NJ, not the other KM!

        • Kathleen McDermott

          I think you meant that a Shade is a Hue (which I called Color since I’m a layman!) mixed with black, right? I neglected to even mention the topic of this post – Monochromatic outfits. I LOVE them done like you did in your 2 examples. Not boring at all. I find them very alluring, very pleasing to my eye. It is my favorite way to dress. I would consider a blue pattern or print (even with other hues in it, as long as subservient to the blue) top with blue jeans and blue shoes as qualifying as Monochromatic. Would you?

          • Liz K

            I did mean that! Thank you, Kathleen! Monochromatic can be very soothing, especially in blues, greens, purples and pinks. Technically, if there are other colors in the pattern or print, it wouldn’t be monochromatic. For me it depends on the amount of the other color and how it shows up in the print. For example, a small floral that blurs at a yard will look more monochromatic than a large polka dot will.

        • Liz K

          Thank you, Kathleen! It doesn’t matter how many times I read a post, there’s always some sort of error. I’ve sorted it. And yes, the Value of the shoes and flower are much deeper than the other colors of red in the outfit. Bright red shoes wouldn’t have worked here. A lighter wine would be more in line with my Value Contrast, but since mine is medium high, and the trousers step between the very light cami and top, I’m okay with it! I have another pair of wine shoes that are lighter; I might need to try with those!


    Liz, My favorite color is a pinky- peach color but my happy color is coral!! My favorite neutral color to wear is navy blue!! I know longer can shop my wardrobe for a monochromatic outfit!! That’s not like me!! Having a hard time finding fun in dressing these days due to pain level!!! Love your post!!

    • Liz K

      So your favorite color and happy color are cousins, Natalie! That’s a treat! I’m sorry your pain levels are making dressing less fun lately… I hope you can at least get some play in with your accessories!

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