Monochromatic Outfits: Should A Gentleman Wear Just One Color?

Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette! In today’s video, we will be examining a style
technique of various celebrities, that being monochromatic outfits, and determine whether
this is actually a stylish look for you or not. A quick look at any celebrity tabloid magazine
will show you that various celebrities like Christian Bale and George Clooney frequently
wear monochromatic looks on the red carpet and elsewhere. And lets not forget the tone on tone look
popularized by Regis Philbin around the turn of the millenium. It even spawned a clothing line from Van Heusen. But our question today is whether these sorts
of looks have any place in the wardrobe of a gentleman who follows the tenets of classic
style and if there are other types of outfits that could still be considered monochrome
that are better looks. To begin answering this question, let’s examine
our terminology. The word “Monochrome” is derived from the
Greek “Monokhromatos” meaning, of a single color. And actually, the word “of” is important to
latch on to here. It suggests that all of the elements of color
may not be exactly the same but are just derived from the same color. More on that, later. Another definition of monochrome is used more
in fields like Photography, meaning something that is rendered in black and white. However, in the world of menswear, black and
white looks correspond more to evening formal wear like Black and White Tie so we won’t
be talking about them here. However, if you are curious to learn more
about the black tie and white tie dress codes, you can do so using our comprehensive black
tie guide, here. So what are we then considering a monochromatic
look to be? Essentially, it’s a look that is, again, derived
from one color. However, not all elements of the outfit have
to be an exactly the same color like all black or all navy, for example, and can use tints
or shades of that color. A tint is where white is added to the regular
hue and a shade is where black is added. By the way, if you would like to learn more
about color terminology, you can find all of that in our video on using the color wheel
to assemble outfits, here. In addition to it being a misconception that
a monochromatic outfit must feature pieces that are all in exactly the same shade, it’s
also a misconception that everything in the outfit has to be a solid. You can incorporate patterns and textures
into different garments and we will be discussing that more, later on. So while there are some kinds of monochrome
outfits that we would suggest you avoid, there are other types that can look sophisticated
and streamlined. With that said, we will go over a few key
dos and don’ts of monochromatic outfits in the rest of the video. Our first big point here, don’t try to assemble
an outfit using garments that are all of exactly the same shade or tint. Again, using an all black or all navy outfit,
as an example, one of the reasons why you should avoid attempting a look like this is
that it is going to be extremely difficult to match the blacks and navys in the same
outfit between different garments. This is because different garments are composed
of different fabrics and are also dyed differently. If they are not coming from the same manufacturer
or are in the same fabric treated with the same dye, color won’t be exactly the same
even if they are generally considered to be black, navy, or other colors like that. Therefore, the fact that you are going to
be wearing various garments that are almost the same color but not exactly, we’ll leave
viewers thinking something is just a bit off about your outfit. Another reason to avoid looks of this nature
is because if your outfit is comprised of all elements of one single color, your body
is just going to recede in photographs. You will look like one large mass and there
won’t be any definition to your form. With exceptionally dark colors, like black
and navy, pattens and textures aren’t going to stand out that much either so still trying
to incorporate some visual interest using these techniques won’t help if your base color
is exceptionally dark. Trying to assemble a truly monochrome outfit
like this can be seen as sort of an easy out in the fashion world but even then, it isn’t
great for the reasons we have outlined above. In other words, Christian Bale’s all black
Red Carpet look and Regis Philbin’s Who wants to be a millionaire? wardrobe aren’t really smart style choices. No disrespect to either of these talented
guys, though. With that major don’t out of the way, we would
advocate that you do try to choose a color that is not so bold as your base color for
a more monochromatically inspired outfit. So for example, instead of centering a monochromatic
outfit around black, maybe you could think about using grayscale more broadly. More on that, in a moment. By the way, you can find our video on why
we think black is the most overrated color in menswear, here and our video on whether
or not you should wear a black suit, here. So in addition to the grayscale, you could
base a monochromatic outfit around staple colors in menswear like blue, brown, or also
go for something like green or even burgundy. Phrased another way, it’s easy to assemble
monochromatically inspired outfits around neutral tones or tones that occur in nature. You can find our video on wearing and pairing
neutrals, here. Also, we recommend that you wear various shades
and tints of your base color in a monochromatic outfit. Varying the brightness of your source hue
in an outfit is going to keep everything in the same harmonious overall mode of color
but it will also provide some definition and visual interest between the various elements
in your outfit. For example, the outfit that I am wearing
in today’s video uses blue as its base hue but there is variance in the shades and tints
of blue in the different garments. More on that in a more detailed breakdown
later on. And as we said before, do try to experiment
with textures and patterns in your monochromatically inspired outfits. Again, using my outfit today as an example,
the texture of my cardigan sweater adds some visual interest and my shirt has a striped
pattern. Something else to avoid, don’t wear too many
layers in a monochrome look. As you’re trying to maintain harmony between
the different pieces but also stay centered around the base hue, the more pieces you add,
the more difficult it is going to be to do this. Also, if you are incorporating patterns and/or
textures, again, the more garments you add, the more difficult it is going to be to keep
everything harmonious. While assembling my outfit for today’s video,
I looked for a suitable tie to wear, however, all of the different textures, patterns, and
shades of blue that I found in the studio did not quite keep this outfit tied together
so I decided to go without a tie. Similarly, if I had tried to a blue jacket
over the top of my sweater, that would have probably complicated things, as well. Sometimes, if you are going for a monochromatically
inspired look, it’s better to keep things simpler. With all that said though, our final don’t
today is don’t feel like you have to stick the rules we’ve outlined, rigidly. While we do think that the guidelines we’ve
put forward will help you to successfully build monochromatic outfits that look good,
at the end of the day, you can still wear whatever you think will make you look best. After all, if what you are wearing is making
you feel confident and more like yourself, that is the main objective. To round out today’s video then, here are
a few different examples of monochromatic looks to give you a better idea of how to
pull them off well. The first one is, of course, the outfit that
I am wearing here today. My trousers today are in a shade of medium
blue that you could consider as sort of central or base tone of blue color that sets the standard
for the outfit. Meanwhile, my shirt incorporates a pattern
of a lighter blue and white stripe. As I said before, my cardigan is on the dark
side of the blue spectrum and it does also incorporate some elements of gray i its weave. The main color of my socks is actually lighter
gray but they feature light blue as their shadow stripe so they still work within the
blue color family. I do not happen to own a pair of blue shoes,
at least, not yet so I have rounded out the look today with a pair of gray suede derbys. They harmonize with the socks and with the
gray elements in my sweater and the suede does provide a bit of a textural element as
well. So I suppose you could technically say that
my outfit today isn’t truly monochromatic because it’s incorporating a good deal of
gray but it still gets the point across. By the way, we do have a video on specifically
pairing gray and blue together and you can find it here. The second example outfit uses brown as its
central or base color. Again, the trousers are sort of in the middle
here with their chocolate brown shade being darker than some elements and lighter than
others. The camel hair sport coat, of course, reads
as tan and its buttons are also in a darker brown. Underneath it is my off-white shirt which,
taken with all of the other elements of the outfit, reads as if it’s in the brown family. My brogued derby shoes and my belt are both
in medium brown leather and my pocket square is in a very dark brown, it’s the darkest
element of the outfit. My bow tie from Fort Belvedere is woven in
a houndstooth pattern and it incorporates off-white and dark brown. Also reading within the brown family are the
edelweiss boutonniere and the cufflinks in an eagle claw design that feature a tiger’s
eye as the stone with gold metal. You can find those cufflinks and the boutonniere
in the Fort Belvedere shop, as well. Our third example outfit again uses blue but
it is a bit more complex. The boldest element is the rowing blazer which
features broad stripes in blue and black. The light blue shirt is solid to ground things
a bit and the mottled blue knit tie provides a textural element. The pocket square is in a lighter blue and
it also features some paisleys in a pattern for another visual element of contrast. The belt is in a blue fabric accented with
some brown leather and the gold buckle which also harmonizes with the gold monkey’s fist
knot cuff links, also available in our shop. Rounding out the outfit are the trousers which
are light blue chinos and some blue suede chukka boots. As you can see, there are a few non-blue elements
here and there around the outfit but the main pieces of the ensemble are definitely blue
and everything harmonizes together despite the fact that this outfit is more complex
than the one I wore here today.


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