Made to Measure: How to pull off the monochrome look

How do you wear clothes in a single shade from head to toe? Here are key points to keep in mind.

Lacoste spring/summer collection.
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I used to work with a guy who wore head-to-toe black every single day of the week. It was his uniform: black shirt, black bomber jacket, black denim, black trainers, black belt, black baseball cap and black rubber bracelet. Notably, he was our magazine's fashion editor. Massively exposed to garments daily, was he tired of the whole theatrics? He came to work wearing the same thing every day, but his black on black on black always made a statement – a been-there done-that stance, in contrast to our tartans and blinding hues.

While monochromatic dressing seems like a no-brainer, it is often miscalculated. I should know. At said colleague's birthday celebration at one hotel, I thought it would be funny to come dressed in his black uniform, a mishmash of all the blacks in my closet. The joke was on me, as one guest thought I was a waiter, while another asked me to tone down the music, like I was part of the hotel band's crew.

The next day I told my colleague – looking unlike a waiter or an audio technician – what happened. "It's down to the details," he said. The only way to figure it out, he added, is by trial and error.

Two years and countless attempts later, I've learnt that fit plays a big part in pulling off a tone-on-tone look. If you're going to layer with a jacket, make sure your shirt is form-fitting enough as to not hang dopily. You want to look like the monochrome was a conscious decision, not because you had nothing else to wear - inspired, not insipid.

Here are more key points to keep in mind to rock a single-shade look.

1. Jacket

It should either be the lightest or darkest hue in your outfit. In the look pictured above from the latest Lacoste collection, a bright cobalt-blue blazer is layered over a navy polo. To accentuate a slim silhouette, play around with textures such as tweed or nylon.

2. Shirt

If you plan to untuck your shirt, it's crucial to wear one designed to be untucked - cropped short enough that the tails don't flop around. If you're going to wear pastels, the softness should carry into your clothing's material, such as cotton.

3. Trousers

Wear a pair that's a shade lighter than your shirt. This will actually make you look taller. Since there will be no "break" between your top and trousers, you will be gazed at as a "whole".

4. Shoes

This is where you can introduce another colour, via the laces. White always works as it's undisruptive. Add textural grit by donning leather trainers.

James Gabrillo is the assistant Arts & Life editor at The National. Contact him at