I went to Catholic school all my life before I went to college, which mostly means I didn’t learn to dress myself until I went to college. Sometimes I miss wearing a uniform. My high school wore navy blue jumpers with a white peter pan collar. Adorable, right? Of course I still have it.
Uniforms are comforting, and many of us can find ourselves adopting an unofficial uniform before we even realize it. It’s easy to wear some variant of the same outfit every day. Life is hard and stressful and I sleep in until the last possible moment and I keep finding myself wearing all black, all the time.
Black on black on black is a consistent and timeless look for good reason. Black is sleek but edgy, unassuming but confident, classic but on-trend. It’s slimming, without the pain of Spanx. It’s easy but not lazy. Except in my case, I’m wearing it because I’m being exceptionally lazy.
I keep throwing together these all-black ensembles as I stumble around my bedroom. When I’m half-asleep and running late for work, my brain waves zap in unison, “All black everything.” Okay, I actually only wore one of these outfits to work but I wore them all out of the house.
So I’ve been trying to introduce colors back into my wardrobe (in time for SPRING! SPRING IS COMING!) without looking like a hungover elementary school art teacher.
(No shade to art teachers. You do the Lord’s work, truly. I will buy you four drinks.)
Similarly to how an all black outfit can emit automatically cool vibes, other monochromatic outfits can make you look very intentional. Or totally insane. It’s a thin line. Let’s toe it, shall we?
Let’s start with the color white. Don’t make me call it “Winter White.” I swear, I will burn down this here Internet.
White fabrics are clean looking. Wearing them at all is an act of bravery if you’re typically as sleepy as me and carry as many open beverages.
Wearing all white, and wearing all of any one color, comes down to fit and texture. You can wear whatever the hell you want, and max out your Amex buying it, but if your clothes don’t fit properly, you’ll look dumb. Ninety percent of what makes an outfit “fashion” is the structure of it, and that comes down to quality and fit. Buy nice things that fit you.
You can also play with texture, details and accents to keep a monochromatic look from weighing you down or freaking you out.
I paired a men’s cotton button-down, courtesy of my dudefriend and Uniqlo with a Topshop A-line lace skirt.
It is suddenly summertime here in Mississippi so I tied my top up. To be honest, it’s sometimes hard for me to remember the last time my top wasn’t cropped. I have a problem.
I put on this black belt to break up the look. I like that the belt separates the two textures of the fabrics. In retrospect, I’d prefer a clean black shoe to this red heel I got from Target’s Prabal Gurung line last year, but I wanted to photograph how nicely a bright shoe looks with an all white ensemble and also I love these shoes.
It’s a very simple and clean look. I like it.
I really like the look of an all-white outfit. Mixing different shades of white, and off-white, is really pretty and sophisticated as well.
Once you move away from neutrals like black or white, things get more complicated. It’s tricky to choose an entire outfit of one color without looking like you’re getting ready for some kind of middle school field day or a photoshoot for Gymboree.
Like I said, it comes down to fit and texture. Also, certain colors are gonna be easier to work with than others. Primary colors like red, green and blue are easier to do this with than in-between shades like teal or lilac. Even amongst those basic colors, though, there’s a lot of variation in shades. Try to either go for two completely identical shades, or a purposeful clash. A firetruck-red pair of pants with a maroon shirt looks much better than two items that are almost the same. As with everything in your life, be ridiculously intentional.
If there’s a color you know you look good in, why not wear it head to toe? I’ve always known I looked nice in red ever since I wore a red gown to an awards show in high school and the guy I had a crush on told me I looked amazing. (He turned out to be gay, as did every male I had a crush on in high school. Holla.)
Red is one of those colors that everyone looks nice in -- you just have to find the right shade for you. Like lipstick, you know. Some people are afraid to match their lipstick to their nail polish, but I like to match my lipstick to everything I’m wearing sometimes. I have a pair of red pants I thrifted a few years ago that I don’t wear enough, and a sweater that’s just a slightly different shade of red I also thrifted that I wear too much but I still somehow always forget that it’s really tiny and does not cover my stomach at all. That’s how I ended up in this outfit, but it brings me to a great point about how your midriff can act as a barrier between two items of the same color, in the same way my belt did in that white outfit.
See what I mean about how the shades are just SO close it hurts? It’s like when you’re on an escalator behind a woman who missed just one small section in the back of her head when she was flat-ironing it. Cringe.
Rather than get all early 2000s up in this club, let’s take a different route. The trick to wearing these two colors at the same time is to break them up with a neutral. I layered that Uniqlo men’s button down under the red sweater, and left it untucked.
This is an outfit I would wear to work. Also, I match the flowers I got for Valentine’s Day! Now you can plan a red wedding of your very own.
Other than black, the color I seem to own the most of is green. I guess green’s my favorite color? My skin has some olive undertones, so greens look good on me. I don’t own any two green things in the exact same shade of green, apparently, but here are some interpretations of all-green outfits from things I do own.
Pretty much this whole outfit is from Target. God, I hate myself. The yellow belt breaks up the green-ness a bit, as well as accentuating my waist under a relatively unfitted sweater. A sweater without the patterned knit in front would look a bit better, but I have to work with what I’ve got.
Sometimes I like to dress like a dude I would totally have a crush on, and then I add a scarf or something. This is a button down and cardigan both from the men’s section of Uniqlo and some old pants from Free People, as well as a thrifted scarf and purse.
OK, so the lesson learned here is that I need to buy clothes in more colors. I’m on it. In the meantime, here’s some more monochromatic outfit inspiration!
With an outfit of all pastels, like this middle lavender outfit, I like the way a slightly contrasting pair of shoes looks. The light blue doesn’t clash with the lavender, but it stands out enough to keep the outfit from looking like a gym uniform of sorts. Or, just pair all your outfits with jelly sandals like my girl Alyssa.
Choosing one piece that’s patterned can help break up the monotony of one color. A patterned button-down under a sweater, or a patterned jacket, can really tie an outfit together.
Wearing heels the same color as a dress can help complete a look and elongate you. Also, I would do a lot of things for that pink coat.
What do y’all think about wearing monochromatic outfits, or wearing 50 shades of the same color at once? Are you an all-black all the time person, or are you the rainbow connection?