Going for a monochromatic look by dressing from head to toe in a single color requires careful planning and a bit of courage. Do it well, and you’ll look polished and sophisticated—and, as an added bonus, taller and leaner as well. Do it poorly, and you’ll look like you’re trying too hard. There’s a reason why the phrase “matchy-matchy” is used in the fashion world as a pejorative: When the execution is flawed, matched shades can look overplanned instead of elegant.
A sophisticated eye can find ways for multiple items of clothing in the same color to look striking and compelling when arranged alongside each other. During his Blue Period, Picasso painted some of his most famous works entirely in shades of blue and green. All the saturated blues in his works augment one another, each contributing to the desired overall effect. If you want to look like a work of art in a blue suit and a blue shirt, it may help to follow some general style guidelines.
Create Visual Interest with Textures and Sheen
When dressing from head to toe in blue, your challenge will lie in differentiating each component of your outfit enough to allow the unique elements to shine. Monochromatic dressing risks looking monotonous, so the trick is to make sure every item of clothing you pick enhances the other parts of your ensemble.
One way to do that is through the adroit use of different textures and levels of sheen. Sheen—the ability of a fabric to reflect light—can lend a spark of visual interest. By mixing fabrics in identical shades yet with different textures and different levels of sheen, you’ll give your look instant appeal. Pair a navy wool suit with a soft sheen with a navy shirt in matte linen, and you’ll see how well this strategy can work: While the shades of blue match each other, the differences between wool and linen in both texture and sheen make this look seem fresh and interesting.
Commit to Monochrome in All the Details
Whether you’re dressing for work or for play, accessories are your friend when it comes to monochromatic dressing. While a blue suit paired with a blue button-down shirt might not make much of an impact by itself, you can boost the visual interest with a well-chosen blue necktie. Consider adding details like a blue pocket square, blue socks, and blue cufflinks. For more casual looks, aim for multiple layers of the same color: Pair denim jeans in classic indigo blue with a matching shirt and either a crewneck or cardigan sweater. The greater your commitment to monochrome, the greater the overall impact of your outfit.
Experiment with Patterns
Patterns can seem difficult to negotiate when you’re dressing in a single color. If a pattern is too loud, it’ll make that part of your outfit draw the bulk of the attention. If you’re not careful, one dramatic pattern can sabotage the whole point of monochromatic dressing, which is to create a coherent and sophisticated overall effect.
However, that doesn’t mean you should shy away from patterns. Small and subtle stripes, plaids, dots, or other unobtrusive patterns will draw the eye and help each part of your outfit stand out without fighting for dominance. Go ahead and mix your patterns, too—a suit in a subtle blue plaid might pair nicely with a blue necktie with small dots. The contrasting patterns give this monochromatic look a welcome hint of an edge.
Adjust Monochromatic Dressing to Suit Your Workplace
At fashion-forward workplaces, feel free to experiment beyond the established boundaries of office style. A light blue suit paired with a dark navy shirt and tie is an unconventional combination and will thus pack a great deal of style impact at the office.
Depending upon your line of work, however, too much impact might not be in your best interests. If you work in a conservative industry or if the style of your company skews traditional, you may want to take an understated approach to monochromatic dressing. For a start, try pairing a classic navy suit with a pale blue shirt instead of the expected white one. The pale blue functions as a neutral, which provides you with the opportunity to add a patterned necktie and pocket square in brighter shades of blue for a hint of drama. You can play around with monochromatic style while still looking appropriate for the situation.
Pitfalls to Avoid When Matching Your Blues
To increase your chances of pulling off this style with ease and panache, be aware of a couple of known pitfalls that can derail your monochromatic look:
- Don’t pair a blue suit jacket with pants in a different shade of blue. No matter how beautifully the two blues coordinate, there’s still a strong possibility you’ll look like you got confused while dressing in the morning and grabbed the wrong pants. While a jacket and pants in different colors can sometimes be a striking and sharp combination, it’s more likely to read as accidental or careless when you’re working within shades of the same color.
- Know the limitations of monochromatic style. There are some stylish and elegant blue dress shoes for men out there, and if you happen to own a pair that coordinate magnificently with the rest of your blue-on-blue ensemble, by all means, go for it. Just be aware that blue shoes with a blue suit can look cartoonish, unless they’re the right blue shoes. If you’re committed to this path, a great-looking pair of navy dress shoes might give your blue monochromatic look the perfect final touch. However, there’s no shame in sticking to traditional brown or black shoes.
Remember, subtlety should be your guiding principle when dressing entirely in blue. The true strength of monochromatic dressing lies in its overall look of sophistication and class. Fine differences in shade and texture will lend you a powerful, cosmopolitan appearance, whether you’re at work or out in the city.
If you have any qualms about your ability to pull off a monochromatic blue-on-blue look, don’t worry. When you enter Knot Standard’s world of modern bespoke suiting—custom-made clothing sewn to your precise measurements and specifications using fabrics from the world’s most renowned fabric mills—you’ll have the knowledge and services of a professional stylist at your disposal. Your stylist will know exactly which fabrics, patterns, and textures will coordinate well together. To find a suit that fits you perfectly and expresses your personal style better than any other garment in your wardrobe, book your appointment to meet with a stylist in one of our showrooms today.