Sunday, November 2, 2014

7 Tips For Styling A Monochromatic Look

Cyndee, a Flattering50 reader, recently wrote: “Do you have any tips on monochromatic looks for over 50 gals? I think it looks very elegant and can fit any budget.” Wow—I couldn’t agree more! Since turning 50, I don’t think any other look has influenced my style more than the monochromatic look. I'm mad about monochromatic styling, which basically means creating outfits with pieces from one color group, because it's...
  • Flattering—During my 40s, my “uniform” was a bright top with a black skirt or slacks. It took me till my 50s to realize that pairing contrasting colors cut my figure in half at the waist. With the monochromatic look, the color scheme is constant from shoulder to hem. That continuous line of color is slimming and elongating. 
  • Sophisticated—I love the monochromatic look because it is simple, subtle, and classic. Yes, it’s a flattering look for women of any age. However, I feel monochromatic styling exudes the quiet confidence of women over 50 who know what they want from life. 
  • Affordable—While my over 50 girlfriends and I wear clothing in a mix of colors, there are certain shades that predominate our wardrobes. With some many pieces in the same color or shades of the color, creating monochromatic looks is pretty easy and inexpensive.
As usual, I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I’m happy to share with Cyndee and you what I’ve learned by experimenting with monochromatic styling.

Here are a 7 things I tell myself when styling a monochromatic look…

Needless to say, if you’re going to style an outfit around one color, it should be a flattering one. In her email, Cyndee mentioned that she’d recently watched the Thomas Crown Affair (1999), starring a then 45-year-old Renee Russo. Cyndee noted how beautiful Ms. Russo’s character looked in monochromatic outfits. I found a webpage with photos of some of her gorgeous outfits. With her bright red hair, Ms. Russo looked smashing in black, beige, rust and grey. By now, most of us have learned either through years of trial and error or through “color season analysis” what colors are most flattering for our complexion. As this post shows, my wardrobe lends itself to monochromatic looks in neutral colors--black, grey, beige, white. However, don't be afraid to use brighter colors. If they're colors that flatter you, you'll look great.

Perhaps, the easiest way to create a monochromatic look is with a dress in a solid color. For a New Yorker like myself, a LBD is a must. These days, I'm wearing my sleeveless black sheath with a sheer shawl to cover my aging arms. Both the dress and shawl have black sequins. To extend the slimming effect of the solid color dress, I like to wear shear black stockings and black pumps.

Even with lots of garments in the same color group in your closet, it can be challenging to come up with a lots of monochromatic looks. That's why I feel it's okay to fudge with the color scheme a little. In the Thomas Crown Affair, Ms. Russo wears a pale grey turtleneck with a beige skirt and matching coat. Even though the colors are from different color groups, the monochromatic look is sustained because the colors are both warm tones.

This next dress isn't a solid color, since a swirling pattern has been pressed into the blue-grey velvet fabric. Still, it gives the desired effect of one continuous line of color from the shoulder to hem. If I find the grey dressy pumps I've been hunting for this fall, I'd probably wear them plus grey sheers with this dress. However, I'm happy to wear my teal suede pumps. While the dress and shoes aren't shades of the same exact color, their muted colors makes them compatible.

No. 4. SUIT UP
After the dress, the suit is the easiest way to create a monochromatic look.  Here, I'm wearing a taupe suit with a charcoal grey shell and black pumps. If I ever find those grey pumps, I'd like to wear them with this suit.  Both this suit and the black one below have long blazers. The longer length adds to the slimming effect of the monochromatic look. I love the coats and matching skirts Ms. Russo's character wears in movie.

Wearing pieces and accessories with texture is a great way to energize your monochromatic look. It's probably hard to see, but my LBD above is sprayed with black sequins and the shawl is trimmed with sequins. Added texture keeps the monochromatic look from looking monotonous.

Here I am again in black (I'm such a New Yorker!), this time a black suit. Instead of wearing simple black stockings, I've styled my suit with polka dot stocking.  It keeps my monochromatic style looking classic, but not ho-hum.

A chunky or textured sweater will have the same effect.

And, of course, a lace top or bottom is a great way to keep the monochromatic look fresh.

Polka dot stocking, chunky sweaters and lace skirts aren't enough to satisfy your need for style with a little flare? Not to worry. Accessories--scarves, jewelry or shoes--can add interest without detracting from your slimming, sophisticated look.

I feel very remiss for not showing any monochromatic looks for pants. Unfortunately, my wardrobe doesn't lend itself to it. Instead, I offer this photo of a woman who is rocking monochromatic style with her black top with gold accents and billowy slacks. Her stunning gold medallion adds the perfect drama to her look.

Like so many things, a little monochromatic styling goes a long way. While I love the slimming effect of continuous color, I've found it's best not to pour on the color, especially bright colors, with abandon. If a bright color flatters you, please wear it. However, I would suggest you think twice about wearing bright colors head to toe. Instead, try adding a garment in another, complimentary color.

For example, I've broken up my maroon monochromatic look (you probably can't see it, but I'm wearing a chunky maroon sweater under the jacket) with a black biker jacket

And I love this woman's autumnal outfit, largely because she isn't dressed in gold and maroon from head to toe.

Now that you know my considerations when styling a monochromatic look, I hope you'll share your tips in the comment box.