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Tonal dressing

When we talk about monochromatic dressing, people often picture an outfit that’s all black—or at most, black and white—but the reality can be much more colourful.

Especially if you take it tonal.

Tonal dressing is when you build a look around a single colour. It’s an effortless look that is surprisingly easy to do especially if you’re willing to play around with textures, details and silhouettes.

Picture Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian and even the Queen who has been giving this style of dressing her Royal stamp of approval for decades.

And, it can be very flattering as wearing matching pieces of the same tone and/or material is an easy way to trick the eye into seeing one continuous line of colour, thereby creating a longer leaner line.

Here are some tips to nailing one of this season’s hottest looks:

Play with varying shades of the same hue

If the thought of trying to find multiple pieces in the exact same colour seems tricky (we get it – unless you’re buying from the same collection, it can be hard!), or you’re not overly keen on being too matchy, combine various shades from the same hue and play around until it feels right.

Find your main colour focus and then play around with pieces in the same hue ie. Find a bright pink skirt and then pair it back with a pastel pink top. And then, to mix it up, play with proportions—such as pairing a sleek fitted crop with wide-legged culottes to keep it interesting.


Use accessories to break it up

Adding a bright colour addition, metallic pieces or a colour from opposite the side of the colour wheel (think pink and green, red and cobalt, navy and yellow) can really break up the tonal look and create further impact.

If you don’t want to go tonal top to toe—which is what I’ve done with the all pink Sheike combo and you have to be feeling really confident to pull it off—or wear a contrasting colour, complete your look with a metallic bag and shoes. Add a few layered necklaces or a statement earring and you’ll be good to go.

Mix different textures or prints

Playing with textures is a must, whether it be pairing wool with leather or silk and cotton in similar shades, or simply adding extra detail via your accessories.

I’ve unleashed my inner Elle Woods with this pink on pink look from Sheike, but I’ve added an extra element of interest by mixing the textures and fabrics from my cropped knit top to the woven clutch. This allows the eye to keep moving and adds depth and variation and is also a great way to add extra oomph to your all-black or all-white outfits as well (for those who aren’t as partial to colour as I am).

You could also mix prints with other prints—think black and white stripes and spots—or pair them back with a solid colours such as a floral top with a bottom featuring the same colour as the print.

U on Sunday Fashion Editor Brooke Falvey knows what it means to dress for the occasion. After living in London for just over a year, Brooke Falvey returned home to Brisbane to share her style storytelling talents on her blog, Blonde Ambition. With a background in journalism, Brooke shares thoughtful lifestyle and fashion pieces through her Instagram account, What Brooke Wore, and her blog, Blonde Ambition, inspiring her readers to start doing what they’ve always dreamed of doing—and giving them tips on how to look good at the same time!. Ready to dress like you mean it? Get to know the girl behind What Brooke Wore. 

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