One of my favorite effortless styling tricks is to do a women’s monochromatic outfit. I’m going to teach you how to pull this off, no matter your office dress code.
What is a monochromatic outfit?
A monochromatic outfit for women does not necessarily mean wearing the exact same shade of one color head to toe.
Instead, it means finding similar shades of the same color, and dressing light to dark from head to toe.
Shape magazine calls it the “figure-flattering single hue style.” You can never go wrong with this outfit formula, regardless of your age, body type profession, and even the color you are choosing. It’s universally flattering, and something everyone should try for both casual and work functions.
Monochromatic Outfit 1. Work from home
You may want to look stylish while working from home, especially to be prepared for video conferences with coworkers and bosses.
But comfort is the main priority when we work from home, and it’s possible to have both comfort and style.
In fact, one study found a more casual wardrobe work environment increased productivity by over 60 percent. Monochromatic options are an excellent option for these times that doesn’t require much mental energy- it’s the perfect low maintenance outfit formula!
Why this works:
In this example, I paired shades of blue for a put together and casual work from home look.
This was a chillier day so I used a layering piece to keep warm–my long cashmere cardigan. The outfit works because it follows a monochromatic color schedule and looks casual, but put together.
Monochromatic outfit 2. No dress code
If your office has no dress code it can be hard to figure out what to wear.
Obviously a baggy hoodie and flip flops are off the table (at least if you want to be taken seriously), but casual and stylish are still possible together.
You want to elevate your style to look put together without making it seem like you want to be the center of attention.
Why this works:
This outfit is a classic example of pulling off a subtle but fashionable monochromatic women’s outfit. It’s all black, but different textures and details create visual interest.
Notice the jeans, with a youthful and modern side stripe.
The ankle-length also is a great choice for women of various body types, and is universally flattering. She toned down the bottom half of her outfit by incorporating a more conservative piece on top, a black turtleneck. A black turtleneck, in particular, is a versatile essential in a capsule wardrobe.
Monochromatic outfits give women a blank slate to play with accessories, so venture out with a more bold or timeless look than you usually would. Her metallic shoes with her black outfit stand out.
Monochromatic outfit 3. Casual dress code
A casual dress code can actually be more confusing than no dress code, because everyone has their own interpretation of what it means. Often employees are given few guidelines on what’s acceptable or actually expected.
To ensure you are looking put together and professional, play with luxe fabrics, like cashmere, even if it means purchasing a few investment pieces for your capsule wardrobe.
Why this works:
This outfit looks sporty yet casual office-appropriate, due to a great-fitting pant, which skims the shape of my leg and tapers at the bottom.
The gray is a monochromatic color palette to play with, as it can look sophisticated and transition well from day to night wear.
To dress this up for night, I’d lose the hat and add some heels. I’d style these with this outfit (and probably only last in them for an hour).
Monochromatic outfit 4. Business casual dress code
Women’s monochromatic outfits become fun to play with when you experiment with dimensions, textures, pops of color, and quality fabrics.
An all-black outfit is a great place to start for a business casual dress code (check here if you aren’t sure if you work in a business casual or professional/formal environment).
Why this works:
This outfit focuses on an all-black color palette, which is the safest monochromatic color scheme for women to try.
What’s even more interesting is the proportions of the pants to the top, which is another fashion guideline I share with my styling clients. Outfits should have balance, and articles of clothing shouldn’t all be baggy or fitted.
For example, the pant is a wider leg and cropped, so it’s paired with heels to give her visual height.
When you wear wide pants, you want to make sure your top is fitted, allowing the pants to be the statement piece rather than competing with an oversized top.
Victoria Beckham is the queen of monochromatic outfits. Notice how she picks one color and follows the light to dark hue suggestion.
She also uses texture, from chunky sweaters to a heathered blazer, to make her outfits interesting.
Monochromatic Outfit 5. Formal dress code
If you are looking to make a statement in a formal setting, opt for an all-white monochromatic outfit.
Anyone can wear all black, but you’ll certainly leave a memorable impression in all white.
This outfit works because not only is the head to toe a fresh white hue, but also the silhouette of the suit is more modern.
The structured blazer and wider pant leg work perfectly, as long as the leg is hemmed to your specific height.
Cassandra Sethi is a NYC Personal Stylist and Image Consultant. After working over 15 years in the Fashion Industry, most recently as a Senior Buyer for Equinox, she created her business, Next Level Wardrobe – a luxury personal shopping service for successful professionals. Cassandra’s been featured in Greatist, Livestrong and NY Mag.