Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Monochromatic for Women

My first post of the new year dealt with menswear- specifically how to pair different black items together. While it was geared towards men, it made me think about a similar issue for women, and it's actually one that I deal with quite frequently. At my new job, I'm required to wear black on Saturdays. Athough I enjoy wearing dresses, I have been getting more into separates lately including skirts, tops, sweaters and various layering options. When I have to put an all-black outfit together, I try to use different textures and finishes in order to keep my all black outfits from being all boring.

For example, one of my favorite outfits includes a black lace pencil skirt paired with a black turtleneck sweater- the lace and the knit contrast nicely. When you are putting a monochromatic outfit together, especially one where the colors are very close or exactly the same, be sure to mix up the textiles and your outfit will have much more visual interest. I'm a fan of shiny, sparkly pieces, but I'm also careful to select just one sparkly item for each outfit, then I pair it with something that has a matte finish. In other words, a satin top with a sequin cardigan can be too much. Likewise, a satin skirt with a satin top, even if they are different colors, but especially if they are the same color, will not work nearly as well as two different textures. A black wool pencil skirt will look fabulous with a black silk blouse. Here's an example: remember my earth-tone outfit from the other day? Even though my skirt and sweater were both green, they were very different textures- the soft, fuzzy cashmere contrasted nicely with the sleek cotton sateen finish of the skirt. That sweater would not have worked as well with a woolen skirt- the overall effect would be too much of one overwhelming texture.

Pairing separates together is about more than just color and although you may think that similar fabrics should always be together, the effect can actually work against you. You can even use this technique of pairing textures to help you achieve a more balanced silhouette. If you are top-heavy and want to minimize that, then keep the lighter fabrics on your upper half. Conversely, if you want to minimize wide hips and/or thighs, select thinner, lighter fabrics for your pants and skirts and pair them with thicker items on top like wool sweaters, denim blazers, etc.

Some examples using only NEUTRALS:

And for those of you out there who are not afraid of color, some bright COLOR examples for you:

All-over color can be very tricky, but when done the right way, with clear intention and mixed textiles, you can avoid the matchy-matchy effect.

Fond of monochromatic looks in your own wardrobe? Email me a picture and I'll post it here for all to see!


Beth said...

Your monochromatic posts are great–and inspiring! I did a duochromatic (?) look on Thursday that involved blue pinstripe pants and a blue tee under a cool green cardigan. I wore a blue and green flower brooch (the felted one my sister gave me), and it really tied the two colors together.

Renée T. Habashy said...

Oooh- sounds fabulous! That pin was fabulous, so I'm sure the outfit was great, too.

Don't you love when something small provides you with inspiration for a whole outfit? I love that!

Now, how about a picture of that outfit, Beth! :)

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