It may sounds pretentious, but once you’ve got over the terminology, tonal dressing is one of menswear’s best-kept secrets. The bad news: it’s not quite as easy as just taking a colour and going to town with it as I’ve probably learn the hard way. Tonal dressing, done well, is about mixing up textures and similar tones that look like they were almost made to sit alongside each other.
If you already wear the same colour on repeat, you’re halfway there in joining the Tonal Squad – just switch up how you combine your pieces in the same get-up. Once your one-colour outfit is sorted, you’ll instantly look and feel your most put-together, even when you’re getting dressed with the darkest of hangovers.
Finally, tonal’s ultimate party trick? Its power to streamline and trick the eye with a continuous line of colour – beer bellies become virtually undetectable. Here’s a few rules to bear in mind when adopting a tonal approach:
The linchpin of any tonal vibe is the colour (obviously). You need a colour that a) complements your skin tone and b) doesn’t look ‘novelty’ when you’re walking down the street. N.B., The Mask-style yellow is a definite no-no, and millennial pink is only for the brave. When breaking your tone-on-tone virginity why not start with something safe and reliable, a navy on navy or green tones.
Tonal dressing may look like a wardrobe art form but it’s all about creating subtle variations on a theme. Think mixing up dark and light tones of a similar hue. The number one thing to keep in mind is not to attempt wearing one block colour head-to-toe and to ensure the colours differ just slightly.
Texture (or lack of it) can make or break your tonal outfit. Throwing different patterns, fabrics and finishes into the mix makes your look less uniform-y, more visually interesting. For example, try combining unexpected fabrics like cotton with leather, or woolly knits with suede. Using different textures will emphasise contrast and add depth to your overall look – especially important if you’re carrying the same colour throughout.
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