Here on FashionBeans, we’re always discussing combinations as ways to implement bright and wonderful colours into your look. Personally, I’m a huge fan of combining colours. But sometimes, keeping things simple is the most beneficial way.

We guys tend to over complicate things, and this can often lead to drastic style mistakes. Today we’re going to be keeping it simple and discussing the joys of using just one colour within a look.

One Colour: The Basics

Inspired by Fendi’s spring/summer 2012 collection below, you need to understand that this article isn’t about colour matching or simply wearing black. We’re in fact talking about using variations of one colour; combining tones to create a simplistic but well-constructed look.

As mentioned in previous colour combination articles specific to seasons, we tend to see the use of the same popular colours through the transition of spring/summer and autumn/winter, but with a variation in tones. For example, in the summer yellow can be utilised in your look, and in the autumn season, this transcends to camel or beige. A dash of bright red is well suited when summer arrives, but in the colder seasons it gets toned down to a deeper burgundy colour.

Fendi SS12 Collection

The SS12 collection from Fendi is a great example of how to create a one-colour look, using a variety of tones.

Karl Lagerfield is the genius behind this campaign, which features laid back tailoring with relaxed garments. Fronted by Gucci’s campaign model Gen Huismans, the accompanying lookbook serves as inspiration for those looking to achieve a minimalistic look using one colour, but still creating that essential contrast between pieces:

Fendi SS12 Collection Lookbook

When building a look using just one colour, using a variety of tones is imperative. Wearing navy on navy is going to mean pieces blend in together; where as navy and blue are going to complement and contrast against each other. Darker tones tend to work better when used as the top layer, and Fendi have also made use of white in order to anchor the outfits and draw even more attention to their use of colour.

This collection is extremely clever, and an inspiration for any stylish male who wants to pull off this type of look successfully. Fendi have paid attention to the tiny details that make the simple technique of wearing the same colour work extremely well.

One Colour: How to Wear

Today we are going to be taking the foundation of one colour and constructing looks through different tones and hues. This technique can be utilised all year round, but tends to work better in the spring/summer season.

Layering various tones can leave you looking like you’ve run out of ideas, so it’s better to keep things minimal. The saying “less is more” is key in this instance.

When creating our outfits We’re going to stick with the minimalistic feel of the Fendi collection. We’ve already highlighted blue as a integral part of this season’s wardrobe, but what of the others?

Key Techniques

Before we start, the key techniques to bear in mind are:

  • Use darker tones for the top layer. This creates contrast as the darker tones will neutralise the brighter tones.
  • Integrate white to draw attention to the clever use of colour. Using black or any other neutral will draw too much attention away from the main colour; where as white will compliment and anchor any tone nicely.
  • Keep things simple. Layering too much can make it look like you just own one colour; keep the layers to a minimum. In spring/summer this can potentially mean just a basic shorts/chinos and shirt/tee combination.
All Blue

Blue is a pretty common colour with a lot of variations to play with, such as electric blue, light blue, aqua, turquoise and navy. The majority of men reading this will already have a wardrobe full of navy, indigo and the like – as it is a colour many default to when purchasing new clothing.

As we have already broken down on FashionBeans recently, blue is the key colour trend for the upcoming spring/summer 2012 season, so what better time to put all those blue garments you own to good use?

All Blue Lookbook

Men's All Blue Outfits Lookbook

Example Outfit

This smart/casual look below is perfect for summer. Taking inspiration from the Fendi campaign, the look is constructed using both tailored and casual pieces. The white t-shirt draws attention towards the top layers, and towards the contrast of tones.

  • American Apparel Sheer Jersey Loose Crew Summer T-shirtAmerican Apparel Sheer Jersey Loose Crew Summer T-shirt
  • Allsaints Edison JacketAllsaints Edison Jacket
  • Band Of Outsiders Washed Cutt-off Chino ShortsBand Of Outsiders Washed Cutt-off Chino Shorts
  • Maxmara Rabat Leather LoafersMaxmara Rabat Leather Loafers
All Blue Picks
  • Fred Perry Slim Fit Oxford Pique PoloFred Perry Slim Fit Oxford Pique Polo
  • Farah Vintage The Brewer Oxford Cotton ShirtFarah Vintage The Brewer Oxford Cotton Shirt
  • Topman True Blue Cord ShirtTopman True Blue Cord Shirt
  • Cotton-jersey Jacket Wayn By Boss OrangeCotton-jersey Jacket Wayn By Boss Orange
  • Nicole Farhi Airforce Blue Treated Linen Twill BlazerNicole Farhi Airforce Blue Treated Linen Twill Blazer
  • Richard James Woven Wool And Mohair JacketRichard James Woven Wool And Mohair Jacket
  • American Apparel Poly-cotton Short Sleeve V-neckAmerican Apparel Poly-cotton Short Sleeve V-neck
  • Topman Daphne Blue Cinch Roll-up Tailored ShortsTopman Daphne Blue Cinch Roll-up Tailored Shorts
  • Topman Navy Twill Skinny TrousersTopman Navy Twill Skinny Trousers
All Grey

We stick with another timeless neutral and colour trend for spring/summer. On the whole, monochromes are making a big comeback in men’s fashion this year after the influx of colour we saw throughout 2011 – with grey being no exception.

The grey shirt is becoming an increasingly popular colour choice for those looking for an alternative that will set them apart from the crowd, whilst grey jeans are also set to take off this season [ed: write-up coming soon].

The great thing about grey is that it varies widely; from light (almost off-white) tones right through to dark charcoal hues. Throw in textures such as wool, tweed and mottled fabrics, and you are looking at a plethora of options when it comes to constructing an all grey outfit.

All Grey Lookbook

Men's All Grey Outfits Lookbook

Example Outfit

The outfit below makes use of both colour and texture variation. We start with light grey chinos; a perfect spring/summer trouser option and a nice alternative to the beige/mustard tones that have saturated the market. We then add a chambray grey shirt, which is slightly darker in tone, to create contrast between top and bottom whilst simultaneously offering a tactile edge to the look.

Finally, we bear in mind our darker top layer rule and add a smart-casual charcoal blazer over the shirt. This version is unstructured and features a crushed finish, reinforcing the textured effect we have utilised to define each section.

  • Linea Chambray Shirt With Contrast CollarLinea Chambray Shirt With Contrast Collar
  • Allsaints Ballast JacketAllsaints Ballast Jacket
  • Paul Smith Slim-fit Cotton ChinosPaul Smith Slim-fit Cotton Chinos
All Grey Picks
  • Reiss Nelson Grandad Shirt GreyReiss Nelson Grandad Shirt Grey
  • Reiss Spinnaker Washed Slim Fit GreyReiss Spinnaker Washed Slim Fit Grey
  • Diesel Antic Grey Marl T-shirtDiesel Antic Grey Marl T-shirt
  • Allsaints Fender Long Sleeved Denim ShirtAllsaints Fender Long Sleeved Denim Shirt
  • Allsaints Coast CardiganAllsaints Coast Cardigan
  • Allsaints Gulf Crew JumperAllsaints Gulf Crew Jumper
  • Topman Washed Grey Skinny JeansTopman Washed Grey Skinny Jeans
  • Oliver Spencer Kirkland Cotton-chambray JacketOliver Spencer Kirkland Cotton-chambray Jacket
  • Common Projects Vintage Achilles Panelled Leather And Suede SneakersCommon Projects Vintage Achilles Panelled Leather And Suede Sneakers
All Red

Another common colour that is used heavily throughout the season – due to the underlying nautical trend colour palette – is red. Burgundy was one of the key colours during the autumn/winter 2011 season, and now you can put these pieces to good use by contrasting them against bright red or pink tones.

All Red Lookbook

Men's All Red Outfits Lookbook

Example Outfit

This look is perfect for spring parties or when you want to make a statement, contrasting a bright blazer with the darker burgundy. Because the blazer is such a stand out feature, integrating another tone of red into the look could be disastrous. Therefore, use a neutral light grey shirt (trend piece) for the under layer to instead draw attention to the 2 contrasting tones.

  • Wesc Yanik Button Down Oxford ShirtWesc Yanik Button Down Oxford Shirt
  • Topman Red Skinny Shawl Suit JacketTopman Red Skinny Shawl Suit Jacket
  • Burton Skinny Dark Red ChinoBurton Skinny Dark Red Chino
  • Dolce & Gabbana Suede BroguesDolce & Gabbana Suede Brogues
All Red Picks
  • Aubin & Wills Cotton And Cashmere-blend V-neck SweaterAubin & Wills Cotton And Cashmere-blend V-neck Sweater
  • A.p.c. Red Contrast Yoke Pima Cotton KnitA.p.c. Red Contrast Yoke Pima Cotton Knit
  • Topman Raspbery Red Skinny Suit JacketTopman Raspbery Red Skinny Suit Jacket
  • Oliver Spencer Striped Cotton T-shirtOliver Spencer Striped Cotton T-shirt
  • Oliver Spencer Striped Cottonpaul Smith Jeans Tipped Zebra Polo Shirt T-shirtOliver Spencer Striped Cottonpaul Smith Jeans Tipped Zebra Polo Shirt T-shirt
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Slim Fit Gingham ShirtPolo Ralph Lauren Slim Fit Gingham Shirt
  • Minimum Frede Chino ShortsMinimum Frede Chino Shorts
  • Cotton Chinos Crigant1-10-d By Boss BlackCotton Chinos Crigant1-10-d By Boss Black
  • Nn.07 Simon ChinoNn.07 Simon Chino
Earth Tones

I have combined the Earth tones because they all work so beautifully well together – it would be redundant to separate them. In this case, we refer to Earth tones as beiges, creams and browns. Khaki green also works very well within this colour palette, but green is definitely a colour you could utilise on its own independently.

The great thing about Earth tones is that they can be combined with white and the contrast isn’t as stark as when you pair it with other colours. It means that beginners can easily pull together a 3 piece outfit combination that includes white, cream/beige and brown without much thought. These are all interchangeable and can be utilised for a variety of shorts/chinos, shirt/tee and blazer/jacket/jumper combinations.

Earth Tones Lookbook

Men's Earth Tone Outfits Lookbook

Example Outfit

The smart-casual look below is aimed towards a brisk spring night. We utilise a key piece from this past AW11 – the tweed blazer – in a dark brown to contrast against the lighter colours, such as the white shirt and beige shorts (the 3 piece colour combination mentioned above).

The casual elements come from the casual slim fit shirt and relaxed chino’s, with the smart elements coming from the blazer and tasselled loafers.

  • Gitman Vintage 6f400 Button Down White ShirtGitman Vintage 6f400 Button Down White Shirt
  • Minimum Tweed Elbow Patch BlazerMinimum Tweed Elbow Patch Blazer
  • Topman Cream Shorts With Contrast HemTopman Cream Shorts With Contrast Hem
  • Jimmy Choo Hamilton Tasselled Suede LoafersJimmy Choo Hamilton Tasselled Suede Loafers
Earth Tone Picks
  • Asos Polo Shirt With Cable DetailAsos Polo Shirt With Cable Detail
  • Asos Oxford ShirtAsos Oxford Shirt
  • Topman Stone Cotton ShirtTopman Stone Cotton Shirt
  • Joseph Beige Stretch Cotton Raphael BlazerJoseph Beige Stretch Cotton Raphael Blazer
  • Style By Boss Black Model Day-w 50216395 Open BeigeStyle By Boss Black Model Day-w 50216395 Open Beige
  • Topman Ben Sherman Quey Derby ShoesTopman Ben Sherman Quey Derby Shoes
  • American Apparel Cotton Twill Welt Pocket ShortAmerican Apparel Cotton Twill Welt Pocket Short
  • Topman Off White Cord Roll Up ShortsTopman Off White Cord Roll Up Shorts
  • Dockers Stone Classic Twill D1 Straight ChinosDockers Stone Classic Twill D1 Straight Chinos

Other colours that work extremely well together all year round are shades of yellow and green – get experimenting and see what you can create!

Our top tip for seamlessly achieving this look may sound very OCD, but it will save your hours of preparation time – giving you more time to perfect your shoe choice. Separate your wardrobe into colours. With each colour take a look at what clothing you already own and in what tones, and try to piece some outfits together.

So, what is your view?

  • Do you think wearing one colour lacks originality and creativity?
  • Do you find combining tones harder than combining different colours?
  • What do you think of the Fendi SS12 Campaign?
  • What will be your signature colour palette this season?

Let us know in the comments below…