How to Master Tonal Dressing

Tonal dressing is wearing multiple shades of the same colour or hue. It is an easy and effective way of bringing new interest to the clothes you already have. The key is to vary the textures, fabrics, patterns and finishes as this will provide depth and contrast. When executed well, tonal dressing can elevate an outfit to provide modern elegance. It also has an elongating effect.

Here are some examples of the tricks to mastering the look.

                                                                                                                 Instagram image: saralouisethomas 
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Consider metallics as a neutral. They bring versatility to a wardrobe and  work as an ideal companion to tonal dressing.

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While camel is a warm hue and faded blues are cool, the combination blend effortlessly, giving this tonal outfit an air of sophistication. The thin lines of the healed shoes in contrast with the relaxed jeans, provide some structural interest.

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Dressing head to toe in the same colour doesn’t mean you can’t add neutrals. A cream top with green accents compliment this soft pistachio and emerald green ensemble.

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A successful combination of black and taupe. On their own they might seem boring but taupe is never boring, particularly when paired with black. Chic personified.

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Varying texture is especially important if you’re wearing a dark colour combination. An all black outfit can look dull and heavy but the addition of a glittery tweed jacket lifts the look, while the leather bag with gold accents, provide pops of contrast and interest.

It’s tempting to lesson the impact of a bright colour by putting it with black but this actually does the reverse. The pairing of these dark denim jeans and muted peacock blue jacket, however, act to ground the electric blue blouse with a more interesting and unexpected result.

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Again, an example of wearing a strong colour with the muted hues of caramel and taupe. Put with something more tonal, the strength of the burnt orange is neutralised. The overall effect is both restful and dynamic.

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Putting a plain blazer with a lacy dress and embellished shoes is an effective combination as it gives the outfit more gravitas. The structured line of the cross body bag and neat belt stops it from being overly feminine. Structured with flowing, a nice combination.

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One of the advantages of a one tone outfit is that it makes you look taller. Don’t worry about having whites with creams matching perfectly. They don’t need to. In fact this can give added interest. 


If you’re not one to shy away from colour, why not try this gorgeous combination of pinks. The neutrality of the accessories makes a perfect companion to the burst of colour. I defy you not to feel happy in this outfit.

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You can mix texture and pattern when they share the same colour combinations. Here we have a palette of coral, lavender and cream. The lime green shoes and gold bag don’t match but tonally add interest without detracting from the outfit.

If you want some help bringing a tonal slant to your wardrobe or looking for some styling advice, all the information and ways to contact Emma are at the top of this page.

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