by jenellewitty@gmail.com

Jenelle Witty from the fashion blog Inspiring Wit shopping at Chanel

The key tricks to nailing tonal dressing. What is one-tone dressing and tips for how to make the chic style work for you.

Knit and leather shorts outfit in sage greenEquipment France outfit I wore out shopping in Perth


Want an easy way to look polished, put together, and turn heads? Adopt one-tone for a chic tonal dressing look. Personally I love it because while I love colour, I try not to wear too many at once! Purely because I feel like I moved away from wearing a bunch of colourful outfits back in my arts student days. Adopting one main palette feels elegant and considered.

What is tonal dressing? Think monochromatic, it’s an outfit combining pieces from the same hue. It’s an effortless look that lends itself to sartorial cool. Dressing head to toe in one colour tone is surprisingly easy to do if you are game enough to embrace it.

When I spotted both of these Equipment pieces hit the ‘What’s New‘ page on Shopbop I was smitten. Cilantro or sage green is one colour that feels fresh, calming, and flattering, but better still I knew I could style these together, or separately for a bunch of different outfits.

How to wear one colour for a chic modern look


The keys are confidence, as with anything but added details like mixing textures and shapes can really put your style over the edge too. Below, I thought I’d share some key tips to nailing a tonal dressing look.

Combine various shades from the same hue

If you don’t like the idea of being too matchy-matchy, try combining various shades from the same hue. Break it up with a different shade. I love doing this with my beige or cream outfits. I’ll add a tan accessory like a belt, shoe or bag to mix up a cream knit with beige pants. My advice here is to look for the same hues and just play around till it feels right.

Add in accessories to add impact

Adding a bright colour addition, metallic pieces or a colour from opposite the side of the colour wheel can really break up the tonal look and create further impact. I’m a huge fan of metallic bags and shoes worn with an otherwise neutral outfit. It adds punch and something a little more playful and carefree. This is also the reason I have not one, but three bright pink handbags. I love wearing navy or beige tones then adding a bright pink bag for a bit of fun. And fashion should be fun.

Mix different textures

Mixing the different textures and fabrics in an all one colour hue outfit just allows the eye to keep moving. It adds some depth and variation and keeps things interesting. I do this with all-black outfits as well. For example, I love the contrast between leather with silk or a chunky knit like the one I am wearing. I also loved the cotton detailing on this knit to add a third texture to the look. Accessories like scarves or hats in the same colour hue can be an additional way to add texture, but don’t overlook a textured shoe or bag.

Street style fashion wearing green utility inspired tonal look and leather shorts

Adopt various shapes, silhouettes, and lengths

Of course, one way to really play around with a tonal outfit is to mix up the lengths, cuts, and shapes you are wearing. Play with skirt lengths, or wide-leg pants, an oversized top, knit, or dress. Volume is another way to really play around. I love an oversized dress or top worn with an over the knee boot, or skinny jeans. I even have a light-weight trench coat in dusty pink that I’ve worn over a playsuit in the same colour to create an interesting look playing with length and proportion. I’ve seen a lot of girls layering knit jumpers on Instagram lately, even adding another tied over the shoulders in a similar hue. It’s all about creating a statement and playing around.

Try tailored pieces

The devil is in the details, or in the tailoring. Fine-tune your outfit with pleats, tucks, and tailoring that elevates and adds a timeless quality. Something I love when it comes to high waisted shorts or pants are pleated details. One great way to dress tonally is the invest in a suit blazer and pants (or shorts- see my dusty pink shorts suit here) in the same colour. From there you can add a neutral in the same hue or really go tonal and match a shirt or light knit to wear underneath.

Equipment army inspired knit in sage green

Add neutral shades to break it up

As I’ve done here, neutral shoes like these heels or black bag tie the look together, making it polished, and not borderline cartoonish. While the nude shoes sorta disappear, making the greens the star of the show, they still add an extra element given the detail in the design.

Oh, and pro-tip, a shoe with a pointed toe will elongate your legs making you look taller. Shoes in your skin tone does the same trick. Something I chose on purpose here with this outfit to balance out the cropped length of these shorts. I’m still apprehensive at times to wear shorts, particularly long ones, as I think they will make me look short and potentially stumpy. But as you can see here, the heels help get around that. For reference, I am 163cm tall and forever trying to look taller!!

Click the images below to shop the pieces.


How to wear leather shorts

tonal dressing outfit ideas and tips for women

I’d love to know if this is a style you wear or would try. It’s definitely a cool move that I’ve seen transition from the street style stars of the fashion week circuit to the mainstream. And really, I love seeing the confidence grow when women try something a bit daring as this may feel at first. If you want some more examples, see the posts below.


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BTW: as you lovely readers know, my links are sometimes affiliate links. This means if you do like something featured in this post and choose to buy it, I may receive a small commission from the brand as a thank you. The commission is at no cost to the consumer aka you! In fact, it helps me keep creating content like this to inspire you. Thank you for your support!


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