Monochrome for spring: 19 Style Panel tips for wearing the same shade from head to toe

monochrome style panel
monochrome style panel

With spring in the air (fingers crossed), we can finally take out those pastel colours and floral prints that have been itching to come out of our closets to bask in the sun.

Trending since last fall, monochromatic tones were seen both on the runway like the cozy furry collection of Alexander Wang’s Fall 2013 Ready-to-Wear collection or on street style favourite, Miroslava Duma in her all white ensemble. Transitioning to spring, could we bring this monochrome trend into warmer season or are we already nostalgic for the colder days? Not just yet!

With some designers already showing off their take on the monochromatic look with primary colours in their Spring 2013 collections, we decided to turn to our Style Panel for a second opinion on what they have to say about the spring monochromatic look and how they plan to work this look this season.

Avoiding the black-on-black ensemble, many Style Panel members played with cooler colours for the spring season as their choice for their monochromatic look. While Mo Handahu from Lion Hunter and Melissa Knight from Miss Melissa chose cobalt blue for a brighter and bolder look, Gabrielle Lacasse from Dentelle + Fleurs experimented with different shades of mint for a fresh spring appearance. Utilizing different patterns, prints, and textures, these girls definitely know how to put together a chic monochromatic outfit for this spring season!

Question 48: What are the best ways to pull off the monochrome look? Read the answers now! »

Or jump to: AMBER DESILETS, LONDON | BARBARA ANN SOLOMON, TORONTO | CARA MCLEAY, VANCOUVER | CEE FARDOE, PARIS VIA VANCOUVER | GABRIELLE LACASSE, MONTREAL | IVA GRBSIC, TORONTO | JENNIFER PISTOR, VANCOUVER | KAYLA SHORT, HALIFAX | KRISTIN MACDONALD, FREDERICTON | KRYSTIN LEE, TORONTO | LYNDSEY FOREST, EDMONTON | MARTA TRYSHAK, TORONTO/MONTREAL | MELANIE MORAIS, EDSON | MELISSA KNIGHT, VANCOUVER | MO HANDAHU, HALIFAX | NICOLE WILSON, TORONTO | STEPHANIE KOCH, KELOWNA | STEPHANIE STERJOVSKI, TORONTO | ZOE SMYTHE, NEW YORK CITY |

monochrome mo handahu

Mo Handahu, 29
Halifax | Curvy Geekery

The monochromatic look is a definite winner because of its slimming quality. This minimalist canvas provides the perfect backdrop for the boldest of accessories. I gravitated towards a bright colour by wearing varying shades of blue. Though the shoes are in the same colour family, the snakeskin shoes and vintage clutch brings texture and adds elegance to the already chic look.

Mo’s wearing: Shoes, Shoe Dazzle. Rings, The Bay. Clutch, Dress in Time. Beaded Necklace, South African Market. Everything else, Value Village.

monochrome cee fardoe

Cee Fardoe, 27
Paris via Vancouver | Coco and Vera

“Plain black and white is boring.” I’ve heard those words all too often, from fashionistas, family, and friends. But the reality is, when it comes to monochromatic styles, the possibilities are endless – from floral to animal print to the always classic black-on-black. Keeping colours minimal allows you to concentrate on buying and wearing truly special (and timeless) pieces; an orange blouse will always stand out because it’s orange, but a black blouse with vintage buttons is equally unique and will be an essential part of your wardrobe season after season. When it comes to wearing monochrome, I like to keep the illusion of simplicity while adding unexpected details – my Gina Tricot jeans look plain, but when I bend my knees, you can see that the fabric has been slashed; my basic black heels have a bright-coloured sole and my black clutch has been brightened up with a thick layer of glitter. Oh, and I never forget to add bright red lipstick – no monochrome look is complete without a vibrant lip colour.

Cee’s wearing: Blouse, Gap. Jeans, Gina. Heels, Christian Louboutin. Clutch, Les Composantes. Bracelet, Keltie Leanne Designs.

monochrome gabrielle lacasse

Gabrielle Lacasse, 23
Montreal | Dentelle et Fleurs

I have always been a huge fan of the monochromatic look. During the summer, I wear pastels from head to toe and during the winter, I totally rock an all beige-brown look. The key? Mix and match different hues of the same colours. If you want to wear all pink, wear a soft pink on top and a pair it with a bold, flashy pink pair of jeans or skirt. This way, you will look more polished and your look will stay fun and fresh. Don’t forget to pick colours that match your skin tones!

monochrome stephanie koch

Stephanie Koch, 27
Kelowna | Inherited Jeans

Sometimes Style Panel challenges excite me because I am already very comfortable with the trend at hand; today’s challenge excited me because I’d yet to really give the monochromatic look a try. To be successful with this trend, I chose to play with mint because not only is it a spring trend, but it also looks good on my skin tone (if you’re going to wear even gradients of all one colour, make sure you pick one of your best shades!). Mixing up the look by blending textures, cuts, and fits is also a good way to make sure it remains interesting. Lastly, make your accessories pop by having them in a different colour like my shoes or sunnies!

Stephanie’s wearing: sunglasses & sweater, Joe Fresh. Jeans, Vero Moda. Necklace, Luxe Craving. Sandals, Aldo.

monochrome melanie morais

Melanie Morais, 24
Edson, AB| BornLippy

Unlike most trends, the monochromatic one is great on the bank account since you can use items you already have in your closet! If you’re feeling weary about trying this trend, start with a colour you know works for you (no black!) and wear that colour with varying shades—either deeper or lighter from each other. The contrast is such a chic and fresh look for spring!”

Melanie’s wearing: Shirt & Jeans, Gap. Heels, Guess. Bracelet, Tiffany & Co.

monochrome zoe smythe

Zoe Smythe, 30
New York City | Zoe’s Fashion Feed

The monochromatic look can be worn many ways, with an overall impression that can be subtle to bold. To achieve a striking monochromatic look, stick to a small range of tones within your chosen hue. If you are more comfortable with a less subtle monochromatic outfit, try playing with a wider range of shades, tones, and tints. Here, my base hue is blue. I combined dark shades of indigo in my jeans with lighter tints of powder blue in my shirt and jacket for subtle monochromatic look.

monochrome stephanie sterjovski

Stephanie Sterjovski, 22
Toronto | Stephanie Sterjovski

I’m a huge advocate of monochromatic looks, however they can be tricky to pull off. I’m not talking about the typical we have all done at one point or another such as black on black (though I do love that as well!). I suggest when trying this look out with any colour, to stay within the same palette, while utilizing the effect of pattern and prints! The denim I’m wearing has a unique design of palm trees all over in light hues of cream, grey, and white. It breaks up the all white and adds an element of interest, while keeping the rest basic. I could have paired this with a clean pair of white denim, but alas I love having a statement piece and these pants did just the trick!

Stephanie’s wearing: Blazer, Zara. Tee, Wilfred Free. Pants, Marshalls. Heels, Zara. Sunnies, Karen Walker. Purse, Forever 21.

monochrome amber desilets

Amber Desilets, 30
London | Canadian Fashionista

We naturally think black is the best way to create a monochromatic look because it’s easy, it tends to helps us look slimmer and taller but other colours work just as well and if you pair it down with some neutrals, it won’t look like a bucket of paint just got tossed on your body.

Remember a few years ago when you weren’t supposed to match anything? Well now matchy-matchy is back in and stronger than ever. To achieve the perfect monochromatic look try looking for contrast within the same hue. Try to stay away from pairing shades that are too similar in colour because it will start to look like your outfit is accidentally clashing rather than being intentional. Also don’t be afraid to use texture when planning your monochromatic look. It will give your outfit depth, but most of all just have fun with colour and experiment.

I picked this season’s hottest colour, teal, and paired it with some beige/ cold accessories to tone down the look. I started with a lighter shade of teal on top, added some texture and a darker shade in the cords, but matched my shoes to my pants to give the illusion of height.

Amber’s wearing: Top, Forever 21. Watch, Guess. Cuff, Stella & Dot. Necklace, Cocoa Jewellery. Purse, Purseaholics. Cords, Forever 21. Shoes, Hush Puppies.

monochrome melissa knight

Melissa Knight, 30
Vancouver | Miss Melissa

Wearing the same colour head to toe can be intimidating. When wearing a monochromatic look, I like to throw in different textures and patterns to break up the look a little bit and to add visual interest.

Melissa’s wearing: Dress, Lulus. Blazer, H&M. Purse, Plum. Brooch, vintage.

monochrome iva grbesi

Iva Grbesic, 37
Toronto | One Chic Mom

When I venture into the monochromatic look, I make sure that the hues are the same tone. Let me explain. When I mix my reds, I make sure that they have a blue undertone and not the orange of a tomato red, or if I wear yellow I wear lemon yellow instead of shades of mustard. If you’re having difficulty, the easiest way to visualize colours of the same tone is to look at a colour wheel. You can purchase them at any craft stores and they will help you with monochromatic looks or mixing colours (great for interior design too…I digress).

Now that spring seems to be with us (I hope I didn’t jinx us!) I’ll be wearing more dresses. I love blue – especially navy and cobalt. The two were easy to mix – navy dress & cobalt coat that had deep undertones. In the photo the colours look to be exact and matching coat/dress or skirt/coats are very retro and reminiscent of the 50s & 60s. I could see Joan, Betty or Peggy wearing this outfit.

Iva’s wearing: Dress, Talbots. Coat, H&M. Shoes, Christian Louboutin. Cuff, Cocoa Jewelry. Clutch, Coach.

monochrome krystin lee

Krystin Lee, 26
Toronto | Suburban Faux-Pas

I am seriously loving the monochromatic look this season. It’s no surprise how much I love patterns so it was natural to incorporate some fun prints into my look. I used the statement skirt as my key item and drew out the nude in my purse and shoes. I matched the hues on top with a bold red and nude sweater tying the whole look together.

Krystin’s wearing: Sweater and skirt, Jcrew. Shoes, Zara. Purse, Ily Couture. Sunglasses, Karen Walker. Necklaces: Forever 21, vintage, Jcrew.

monochrome marta tryshak

Marta Tryshak, 24
Toronto/Montreal | With Love Gabrielle

The past few seasons, monochromatic palette has been the trend. Black on black is prominent, but you can also try monochrome with a twist. Monochrome can be powerful and attention grabbing, but only when the key focus is interesting. This is when texture comes into play. Attending a gala, I decided to wear this white on white pencil skirt and a top combination. The white palette was simple, but the texture was a whole different story. The texture top was a perfect contrast to a heavily sequined skirt. So the next time, you turn to your favourite LBD – look twice since maybe this spring a LWD is a better choice!

Marta’s wearing: Top and skirt, DUY. Shoes, Kate Spade. Purse, Marc Jacobs.

monochrome kristin macdonald

Kristin Macdonald, 27
Fredericton | Doll Parade

When dressing & working within trends, things can sometimes get complicated. But when in doubt, I always like to bring things back to a clean & simple colour palette, which, happily enough for me is huge for this spring. Simple, modern, and cool, a black & white ensemble somehow feels fresh while it simultaneously feels classic. I picked up this Joe Fresh bomber recently and felt its first public appearance would be best communicated by structuring it alongside its colour counterpart: black. I went with a black maxi since I’ve got a major swoon on for the bomber/floor length mix and I threw in a bright lip for just the right amount of pizzaz. Done and done.

monochrome cara mcleay

Cara McLeay, 28
Vancouver | A Fashion Love Affair

Wearing head to toe red may sound intimidating, but it is actually really easy to pull off! I broke up the look with a plain grey tee and added minimal jewelry to let the red really make the statement.

Cara’s wearing: Blazer and jeans, Zara. T-shirt, James Perse. Bag, Celine. Heels, Coye Nokes. Ring, Katie Rowland.

monochrome barbara ann solomon

Barbara Ann Solomon, 25
Toronto | Babara Ann’s Style Blog

Now that the monochromatic look has been around for a few seasons, we should feel more comfortable wearing it and not feel like a crayon. For me dressing in one shade is easy, I have my closet organized by colour, rather than commodity, which helps me each morning during my dash out of the door.

This season to put a spin on the monochromatic thing, I’ve combined it with vertical stripes in contrasting sizes. The width of the stripes really plays with your eyes and creates a very linear visual playground. Choose a season appropriate colour to keep the outfit fresh.

Barbara’s wearing: Shirt, Old Navy. Jeans, Bluenotes. Wedges, Aldo. Belt, H&M. Pearls, gifted.

monochrome kayla short

Kayla Short, 26
Halifax | Short Presents

A monochromatic look screams simple and sophisticated, and so it isn’t any wonder that it has been trending since last fall. This trend can be scary to approach since wearing all one color H2T can seem a little like overkill, but there’s something about a minimalist look that is so chic to me, and so it’s totally worth a try.

I think when most people think of monochrome they think black and white. B&W have long since been a classic combination and we know they will never go out of style, but I think you can push these boundaries even further and try something more daring by exploring color! And lots of it!

Look for contrasts of color within the same hue, so think navy blue and sky blue or magenta and baby pink (like I’m wearing above), and so on and so forth.

Stick to simple, tailored shapes, and DO play with texture. Another foolproof way to attempt this trend is with denim. If you want a more subdued (less obvious) way to rock the monochrome, try wearing a blue shirt, and blue-ish accessories with your favorite pair of jeans. Easy done!

Kayla’s wearing: Light Wool Trousers, Zara Canada. Blouse, Suzy Sheer. Bag, Aldo. Ballet Flats, Calvin Klein. Necklace (long), Adorn. Necklace (short), Stella & Dot. Earrings & Tassel Bracelet, Short Presents Etsy Shoppe.

monochrome jennifer pistor

Jennifer Pistor, 33
Vancouver | Prairie Girl In The City

Monochromatic dressing can be tricky. I find the key is to mix textures and add accessories to ensure there’s visual interest. This soft, flowy mint skirt is given life with a textured mint sweater. To add depth to the colour, I paired the outfit with bright shoes, and a gold and mint feathered statement necklace. A metallic clutch compliments the soft shade and anchors the look with a pop of neutral.

Jennifer’s wearing: Sweater, Monk & Lou from Plenty. Skirt, Wilfred from Aritzia. Shoes, Miz Mooz. Clutch, Co-Lab. Necklace, Forever 21.

monochrome nicole wilson

Nicole Wilson, 29
Toronto | Dainty Girl

Monochrome is hot for spring, but it can be tough to wear one colour without feeling like a cast member on Designing Women in the early 90s. Steer clear of the shoulder pads and remember that monochrome doesn’t have to mean one solid colour, in the same fabric with matching accessories – outfits can include different shades within the same colour family.

For this week’s look, I paired a bright pink pleated skirt with a soft pink blazer for a fresh and feminine monochromatic look. Both pinks compliment each other and I broke it up with a graphic tee and some classic black and gold accessories. If you’re not sure about the monochrome trend, dabble with different shades or break up the uniformity with contrasting textures.

Nicole’s wearing: Blazer, Jacob. Skirt, M for Mendocino. T-Shirt, Dynamite. Shoes, Aldo. Necklace, Minling Pan Studio. Handbag, Rebecca Minkoff, Sunglasses, Joe Fresh

monochrome lyndsey forest

Lyndsey Forest, 23
Edmonton | Over My Styled Body

I am absolutely loving the monochromatic trend this season! It’s a simplistic and chic look that works with a variety of colour palette that anyone can pull off! If you’re going to try out this trend, the tip to rockin’ the monochromatic look is to play with different tones and textures within the same shade. I decided to pay homage to the infamous Canadian tuxedo and wear denim on denim for my monochromatic outfit. I kept my bottoms dark and added a light chambray shirt and quilted jacket to my top half for some texture. To avoid blue overkill, I added some fun accessories with a pair of tweed heels, crystal gems, and a silver clutch to balance out the entire outfit.

Lyndsey’s wearing: Chambray Shirt, Forever 21. Jacket, Urban Outfitters. Denim, Cheap Monday. Shoes, J.Crew. Necklaces, J.Crew. Earrings, Forever 21. Clutch, H&M.