Basics For A Bargain: Monochromatic Looks To Brighten Up Any Season, Wardrobe, & Budget!


It’s not often that I wear monochromatic looks, but when I do, it’s usually either black or gray. These are go-to colors that I know I can always mix & match with each other, especially when I’m headed to work & am looking for something chic & fluid to wear. I was inspired by monochrome outfits during my last photo shoot of pictures of myself to post on Style Darling (see the all-green sweater & pants look, for example).

Since I started covering Runway Rundown here, I noticed the dominance of monochromatic designs, especially for the 2013 runways. This includes Calvin Klein Collection with a multi-textural caramel look, Michael Kors‘ lemon yellow duds, Elie Saab‘s cobalt crush, Salvatore Ferragamo using neutral beige, Christopher Kane‘s all-white ensemble, Bottega Veneta‘s brick menswear-inspiration, & BCBG Max Azria‘s flowing black separates.

Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Elie Saab, Salvatore Ferragamo, Christopher Kane, Bottega Veneta, & BCBG Max Azria.

Taking a cue from the runways, there have been plenty of color-on-color red carpet apperances. Celebrities who’ve donned monochromatic looks include Michelle Williams who attended the New York Times Arts & Leisure Weekend event in head-to-toe black with a belted mini, tights, & suede booties. Fashion icon Alexa Chung breaks up her nearly-monochromatic look in an oxblood turtleneck by Versus & leather zip-up mini with lasercut flats. Country songstress Taylor Swift went for a more mature look in a custom-made all-white suit by J. Mendel at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards. Victoria Beckham looks nothing short of amazing in her nude sheath dress design with Brian Atwood pumps. Lastly, back in 2009, Penelope Cruz dazzles in a three-piece scarlett suit by Bottega Veneta at the London premiere of Broken Embraces with two-tone strappy sandals.

Michelle Williams, Alexa Chung, Taylor Swift, Victoria Beckham, & Penelope Cruz.

Now that we’ve seen what’s going on inside the pages of our favorite magazines & who’s wearing what on the runways, I wanted to show how anyone can wear a monochromatic look without breaking your budget. What’s great about finding identical tones is the crisp & clean look that it creates & that’s where you can have fun with accessorizing with a sparkling scarf, baubled cocktail rings, bib necklaces, embossed handbags, & so on. In these looks, I have included at least one accessory, but it’s simply a suggestion & option to really bring the look together & in most cases (except for the teal look) still fits within budget.

First, I’ve been thinking about coral, ever since a post from The $100 Challenge where I featured a coral dress for the holidays, but I just love the softness of the color, which is perfect for any skintone. It instantly adds some natural rosiness to your cheeks & always looks feminine. The studded Peter Pan collar shirt ($22.80) from Forever 21 already has some built-in detail with the gold that helps frame your face. This matches perfectly with Target‘s Mossimo ankle pant ($27.99) & the sueded uber platform pumps ($12.50) from Charlotte Russe, which have just been reduced from their original $32.50 price. Lastly, I fell in love with the art deco-inspired spike triangle earrings ($8.77) from ASOS, which add a rose gold luxury to such a relaxed, yet sophisticated outfit. Also, if you want to break up these pieces to create a trendy or unexpected look, mix things up with dark denim skinnies, cap toe ballet flats, a silk boyfriend blazer, or metallic belt.

I’ve also been seeing a neon opportunity for your wardrobe for quite some time now. Of course, this color is to be worn confidently & with caution. We all want to look so good we stop traffic, but this look with highlighter yellow or electric lime tones could almost guarantee such a result. It all started with the a.n.a. perfect skinny corduroy pants ($17.00) from JC Penney that I spotted sometime before the holidays, but now they’re marked down & I’m excited to see how these might be worn for the rest of the winter & into spring. I paired these with the boatneck banded bottom tee ($29.90) from Express & Forever 21‘s faux suede pumps ($29.80). While any gold, white lacquered, or lucite jewelry will enhance this look, Alloy‘s Zahara neon necklace ($19.90) was just irresistible, thanks to a search on ShopStyle for matching accessories. Also, for more ideas on how to wear these pieces, consider other neutrals like charcoal, black, & navy, as well as classic patterns like polka dots, houndstooth, & plaid.

Coral, Neon, Teal, & Fuchsia.

I found myself a little troubled when looking for coordinating pieces for my teal ensemble- ones that wouldn’t make me go over budget, but… I did. Sometimes that happens when you find absolutely must-have pieces. I just adore this color (on me!) & think it’s a bold way to reinterpret greens & blues since it falls so beautifully in the middle. While checking out the newest arrivals @New York & Company, I found the satiny pleated from belted blouse ($29.95), which instantly made me think to find a skirt. Then the Grace Elements teal skirt with yoke ($24.99) from Loehmann’s was a perfect fit, especially if you’re trying to refresh your work wardrobe. For an extra fun touch, @Steve Madden, the Intrude pumps ($34.99) are just what this look needed to add some texture & despite the myth of material, these can be worn any time of the year. Finally, the Croft & Barrow jet bead hoop drop earrings ($12.00) from Kohl’s put the look just a bit over $100, but you can always keep this affordable by wearing favorites that you may already own like diamond stud earrings or something in silver.

My final look goes out to my plus-size Style Darlings because I think a berry tone is perfect for any shape & any woman. I shopped Wet Seal‘s plus section to find the 3/4 sleeve belted blouse ($18.99) on sale, which comes with a detachable belt, perfect for wearing over a cardigan or jersey dress to help enhance your curves. To keep this look balanced & figure-flattering, the roz & ALI stretch colored jeggings ($19.99) from Dress Barn helped complete the bottom half, especially since they’re available in sizes 14-24. I found the Rocket Dog Monica flat ($24.94) @DSW, which would also help dress down a shirt dress, work if paired with a denim skirt & sweater, or contrast a ruffled blouse & dolman top. My final piece to this looks is the neon metallic teardrop earring ($5.80) from Forever 21, which would sparkle for a date night in an LBD or look cute with a mod shift dress.

Do you wear a monochromatic look? Which colors are you most drawn to? Do you prefer matchy-matchy pieces or like to contrast with colorblocking? For more from Basics For A Bargain, check out posts including outerwear inspired by Kate Middleton & Gwen Stefani, pointy toe heels as seen on Mandy Moore & Miranda Kerr, & how to copy separates looks like Kate Hudon & Kristen Stewart! Also, for more affordable looks under $100, check out a sleek black & silver cocktail look, building with black textured accessories, & how to wear a leopard wrap dress! Lastly, be sure to click on over to Color Me Style for the latest trends in yellow with some help from Emmy Rossum & Kim Kardashian, all-black looks like Jennifer Lawrence & Kate Moss, & black & white ensembles like Jessica Alba & Julianne Hough! Happy Styling!

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