Monochrome: The Latest Street Style Obsession
If your mental image of street style stars is brightly colored suits, statement-making color combinations, and guys lined up in their most ostentatious ensembles to “peacock” in front of the camera, then you’re not far off from what photographers have actually been seeing at major fashion events like Pitti Uomo for the past few years. But the latest street style obsession is proving that monochromatic looks — already a staple in casual wear– are also gaining traction in circles devoted to tailored suits and structured outerwear.
As noted by Put This On, street style photos shot at the latest Pitti Uomo trade show demonstrated even attendees of an event known for its out-there street style (think bright colors and eye-catching plaids) are trying on monochrome for size. As illustrated in the photos posted by Styleforum member EFV, monochromatic looks can be just as eye-catching as the louder colors and patterns that Pitti attendees usually opt for when choosing their suits for the event.
The photos, as Put This On’s Derek points out, show Alex Pirounis from The Armoury wearing the avant-garde combination of a navy overcoat with a similarly hued suit and turtleneck. He also notes Greg Lellouche of No Man Walks Alone and Yasuto Kamoshita of Camoshita were spotted wearing “slightly more traditional monochromatic ensembles,” which differentiate knitwear and overcoats with texture.
As Derek notes, it’s key to imbue with your outfit with some contrast, but that can be attained with more than just color. Put This On explains “contrast can come from more than just color. There’s also texture, pattern, and how light reflects off a surface. Sometimes, similar colors with different textures can look more interesting than similar textures with different colors.” Let’s see how it’s done.
Unless you’re a native New Yorker, it may not have occurred to you to wear black head to toe. But it’s actually one of the most straightforward ways to test the waters of monochromatic dressing (in part because it’s pretty easy to match one black piece with another). In this Barcelona street style shot, August’s all-black ensemble enables unique touches, like his overcoat’s zippered details or the texture of his gloves and accessories, to take center stage.
A major advantage of monochromatic dressing is that your decisions about which pieces to wear suddenly get easier. If you’re wearing black, then you automatically know to reach for a brown suit, overcoat, and shoes. And if you’re wearing brown, you’ll immediately know to reach for, not only a brown coat, but also a brown bag if you’ve got files (or photography equipment) to lug to the office. Here, a Pitti Uomo attendee in Florence pairs a tan coat with a brown bag for a much more classic and understated look than you’d be able to achieve with a bright suit and overcoat.
Another benefit of an all-one-color ensemble is the leeway it gives you to experiment with silhouettes. In this photo of model Marc Finch at Milan’s fall/winter fashion week last year, the monochromatic outfit and lack of contrast between the color of the pieces spotlights the unique cuts and silhouettes.. A turtleneck paired with a standing coat collar and cuffed trousers paired with lace-up boots are interesting choices, and ones that combine personal details with the understated elegance of classic shapes.
A classic but familiar way to dip your toes into the monochromatic waters is to simply wear a suit. It may not be a true monochromatic outfit, but Waris Ahluwalia’s blue suit and white shirt demonstrate that you don’t need the bright suit and patterned overcoats favored by past street style stars to be the most dapper guy in the room.
Need more proof that you don’t have to stick to a strict monochromatic palette to reap the benefits of a more understated tailored look? By sticking to a handful of neutrals, New York Fashion Week attendee Eric West creates the perfect outfit to accessorize with a few streetwear touches, like a pair of statement-making sneakers and a classic pair of aviator sunglasses. We’d take an outfit built from neutrals over a primary color-based ensemble any day.
This photo of an attendee at Milan Fashion Week illustrates another great way to wear neutrals without sticking to a strictly single-color palette. Pairing black trousers with all-black accessories — shoes, socks, bag, and sunglasses — is a stylish foundation for an outfit that’s filled out with grey, white, and tan.