What is Monochromatic Dressing anyway?

Could you also clarify monochrome? I know it’s technically different shades of the one colour but so many magazines and websites are calling black and white together monochrome, so I’m wondering how it works with two neutrals together.


  • Mono = One
  • Chromatic = Colour

So is just means One Colour  it could be all blue (or shades of blue) all green (or shades of green) or even all shades of brown.  That is the technical meaning of monochromatic.   Many people think it means exactly the same colour head to toe, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be.

You can choose a dark version of a colour and that can act as your neutral, and then team some lighter versions of that colour for interest.
Navy, deep burgundy, deep forest green and brown can work as neutrals to hold your outfit together.

monochromatic dressing in brown


monochromatic dressing in blue
monochromatic dressing in red


Dressing in Black and White (and grey) should actually be called Achromatic – as black and white are without chroma (colour).
achromatic dressing in black, white and grey



  1. If I have a complimentary colour contrast, I shouldn’t wear monochromatic, right? (Fair skin, brown hair, green-grey-blue eyes)?

    What does silver/gold count as?

    I have wondered about colour contrast, I take it it comes down to eyes and hair colour? But then our eyes are relatively small if looked at from afar and colour can’t always be seen, do they really make that much of a difference to the whole of the outfit?

    I wondered the same about value contrast, in this post http://www.insideoutstyleblog.com/2014/03/getting-your-value-contrast-levels-right.html
    esp medium contrast girl, if she had her roots done, proportionally compare the space her hair and skin (lots) vs the eyes and eyebrows take up (little)!? But the dress you indicated for her is 50-50% light vs medium colour?

    • Susie – you are not truly complementary – red hair – green eyes is more complementary, brown and green eyes is more neutral plus a colour.

      Silver – is shiny grey (neutral)
      Gold is shiny yellow (colour)

      Eyes, hair and skin – some people have more coloured skin – it looks orange, yellow or pink. Generally there may be a proportional amount that relates, but we talk to people up close, not from afar, so I dress people for that close communication.

      • Many thanks!

        Neutral and a colour? So I should wear a neutral and one colour ideally? Perhaps a full post clarifying this would be needed! I am intrigued now, as here
        you said that brown hair and blue eyes were complimentary.

        And you always described yourself as complimentary (with your former hair colour). Personally, 1. my skin would not be colour, but I’d equate with white, 2. my hair is between dark and medium brown and 3. my eyes are green-grey-blue depending on what I wear, not as definitely blue as yours, but overall my colouring is not far from your former colouring (when you had dark brown hair), esp as I’m cool and bright and my value contrast is most certainly high.

  2. Imogen, are these outfits considered low contast?

    • The brown one is high contrast (light top, dark jacket, scarf has both light and dark in it)
      The blue one is medium – dark with medium blues
      the Red one is medium low – red with burgundy

  3. Hi Imogen, you always have wonderful ideas and tips and look beautiful. I am also changing my hair color, currently just a golden blonde and I intend to get to a very very light shade just ash. The problem is no longer what colors to use, and especially how to choose a base color. I feel my skin is less warm, but I do not think it is cool yet. I like the taupe colors, teal and mustard. What suggestions do you have for those that are changing color? Thank you very much.

  4. Thanks for clarifying about the black and white. For some reason so many magazines and style blogs keep calling black and white together as monochromatic. I have no idea why and it’s annoying.
    Jewel Divas Style recently posted..STYLE NOTES: Pink and blue glitter in the airMy Profile


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  2. […] I not only did a style course last year but have recently asked one of it’s owners to clarify this way of dressing because of these websites and magazines confusing the issue over black and white outfits being monochromatic, and you can read about it at Imogen’s Style Blog. […]

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