Fashion: Decoding the monochromatic look

Whether it’s wearing an outfit featuring colours of a single palette or dressing in one hue from top to bottom, here’s how you can ace the monochrome game in seven different ways
Embrace the monochrome look; Location: Warehouse Cafe; Art direction: Amit Malik; Styling: Avneet Chadha; Styling assistant: Tanya Aggarwal; Make-up and hair: Shaan; Model: Prabhjot Kaur (Hari Nair)
Embrace the monochrome look; Location: Warehouse Cafe; Art direction: Amit Malik; Styling: Avneet Chadha; Styling assistant: Tanya Aggarwal; Make-up and hair: Shaan; Model: Prabhjot Kaur (Hari Nair)
Published on Feb 20, 2021 09:23 PM IST
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BySarah Mirza

“You can never go wrong with a monochromatic look,” says designer Shantanu Mehra of Shantanu & Nikhil when we approach him for his views on this trend. “A monochrome palette is one family of colours,” explains fashion designer Nachiket Barve. Whereas monotone dressing is all about wearing the same colour from head to toe.

For Madhu Jain, the first image that springs to her mind when this trend is mentioned is that of Queen Elizabeth II. From Royal purples to baby pinks, avocado green, fuchsia or sunshine yellow that we see her adorning, she surely depicts a confident and elegant style statement.

“Monochrome is a classic theme in fashion and has been relevant for quite some time now,” says award-winning designer Rahul Mishra. “The key is to play with different tones and shades and balance them in the best possible way,” he rightly points out.

Monochromes can be made into a captivating style by playing with textures, says designer Falguni Peacock. “Textures look great visually and give the look depth and dimension,” she explains.

“But monochromatic ensembles can also work well with contrast,” adds Payal Jain, “by focusing on a single strongly- contrasting piece of garment or accessory”.

Here’s how you can ace the trend and shine like a queen, like literally!

Slay in top to bottom monochromes

This look is perfect for a fancy picnic or lunch with your BFF; Top, Zara; pants, Marks & Spencer; scarf and shoes, H&M; earrings, Shein (Hari Nair)
This look is perfect for a fancy picnic or lunch with your BFF; Top, Zara; pants, Marks & Spencer; scarf and shoes, H&M; earrings, Shein (Hari Nair)

While playing with variations in hues and shades within a colour is one way of avoiding looking like a skittle, another good idea would be to break the monotony with a complementary colour as this not only enhances the main hue, but also gives relief to the eye!

Wear it to: “A fancy picnic, or a lunch with your BFFs,” suggests celebrity stylist Rishi Raj.

Accessorise it with: “A scarf or a sheer, long cape jacket if it’s a day event and for a night do, add some bling in the form of big earrings or a bangle stack,” he says.

Avoid: “A scarf if your neck is short,” cautions Rishi

Layer to lift a monochromatic look

Wear silhouettes that show your skin in the right places to add spark to a single-hued outfit; Dress and sneakers, Zara; scarf (worn as a bandana) FabIndia; jacket, Ikks (Hari Nair)
Wear silhouettes that show your skin in the right places to add spark to a single-hued outfit; Dress and sneakers, Zara; scarf (worn as a bandana) FabIndia; jacket, Ikks (Hari Nair)

A cool way to enhance a monochromatic look is by adding layers and accessories like a jacket and a cap in complementary shades. Plus, wear silhouettes that show your skin in the right places to add spark to a single-hued outfit.

Wear it to: “Shopping during the day with friends. This look works well for a night market visit while travelling, too,” says Rishi Raj.

Accessorise it with: “A pair of flats or sneakers,” he suggests and adds that one can make it more contemporary boho by adding on a soft bandana drape or a casual, slouchy jacket.

Avoid: “If you are voluptuous, as this look works best for a boyish body by creating depth through the assymetrical details and drapes, which does not flatter a curvier body,” he cautions.

Be impactful in a monochrome suit

A monochrome suit worn with minimal clashing colours and simple accessories works best; Top, Top Shop; pant suit, Fab Alley;bracelet, Outhouse; earrings, Myntra;bag, Fendi; heels, stylist’s own (Hari Nair)
A monochrome suit worn with minimal clashing colours and simple accessories works best; Top, Top Shop; pant suit, Fab Alley;bracelet, Outhouse; earrings, Myntra;bag, Fendi; heels, stylist’s own (Hari Nair)

The simplicity of monochrome suits is best kept clean and understated. So, wear it with minimal clashing colours and keep accessories simple. The suit will be complete in itself, if the focus remains on its monochrome nature.

Wear it to: “A day meeting. It can be dressed down for the day and dressed up with jewellery and accessories for the evening. It surely gives much versatility and freedom to the wearer,” shares designer Payal Jain.

Accessorise it with: “A scarf, some pearls, a nice bag and heels is all you need,” she suggests.

Avoid: “Severely clashing and oddly contrasting accessories or inners as these simply don’t work,” Payal advises.

The art of breaking the monotone

Break the monotony of your monotone look by pairing a piece in either a different fabric or set, and throwing in a matching bag and belt; Top and dress (worn as a skirt), Faballey; bag, Gucci; earrings and belt, Shein; heels, Koovs (Hari Nair)
Break the monotony of your monotone look by pairing a piece in either a different fabric or set, and throwing in a matching bag and belt; Top and dress (worn as a skirt), Faballey; bag, Gucci; earrings and belt, Shein; heels, Koovs (Hari Nair)

The monotony of a monotone look can be broken by adding an element of fun. To do so, pair a piece in either a different fabric or set, and throw in a matching bag and belt.

Wear it to: “Shopping with your girlfriends or boyfriends, or for any day activity,” says Rishi Raj.

Accessorise it with: “Stack up a couple of bracelets in different colours or a colour blocking kind of scarf as a headband or a vibrant handbag or a clutch,” says designer Falguni Peacock.

Avoid: “Wearing it to work or in the evenings as it is a soft, girlie look,” says Rishi.

Styling two monochromatic garments

Keep balance in mind when styling two monotone outfits; Dress, Marks & Spencer; jeans and sneakers, Zara (Hari Nair)
Keep balance in mind when styling two monotone outfits; Dress, Marks & Spencer; jeans and sneakers, Zara (Hari Nair)

It is very important to keep balance in mind when styling two monotone outfits. It’s best to have a darker top and lighter bottom. Two shades are enough to create a powerful monochrome look. You can pick up a darker shade for the lower half to break the monotony.

Wear it to: “A TED talk or a brunch,” suggests designer Shantanu Mehra.

Accessorise it with: “Any accessory of a different shade of the same colour as the outfit. Go for a cross-body bag for an edgy look,” he recommends.

Avoid: “Going overboard with the hues,” he cautions.

Put together varied separates to perk up the monochromes

A dress styled with a check shirt is the perfect example for those looking to style varied separates to put together a monochromatic look; Body suit, Marks & Spencer; skirt and shirt, United Colors of Benetton; bag, Tiger Marron; earrings Ajio; bracelet, Outhouse; belt, Shein (Hari Nair)
A dress styled with a check shirt is the perfect example for those looking to style varied separates to put together a monochromatic look; Body suit, Marks & Spencer; skirt and shirt, United Colors of Benetton; bag, Tiger Marron; earrings Ajio; bracelet, Outhouse; belt, Shein (Hari Nair)

This playful look where a dress is styled with a check shirt is the perfect example for those looking to style varied separates to put together a monochromatic look. While there’s no need to be afraid to add more and more layers, do know where to stop!

Wear it to: “This can be worn to a jam session with friends or even to an informal brunch,” shares desigher Rahul Mishra. “Replacing the sneakers with a pair of heels can completely change the mood of the outfit,” he adds.

Accessorise it with: “A good pair of graphic earrings. Something that can be juxtaposed with the checks and bring more attention to the face,” recommends Rahul.

Avoid: “If you have broader shoulders, as the checks may give an illusion of more volume,” he cautions. “And visible socks can be avoided in this look, too, as one wouldn’t want to have more elements than needed,” he adds.

From HT Brunch, February 21, 2021

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Wednesday, June 29, 2022