Set The Tone

Earlier this year we reported that tonal outfitting was going to be a huge trend for AW13 after the technique was used in countless collections at London’s most essential menswear event, London Collections: MEN.

And, just as predicted, the effortlessly stylish and entirely accessible look seems to have taken off in a big way on the high street, too.

So, now that the autumn/winter season is truly in full swing, we decided it would be the perfect time to revisit the tonal trend and go into more detail about how the style should be worn.

So from ‘seeing red’ to earth tones, read on to find out how you can feel confident about adapting the look from runway to wardrobe this winter and beyond…

The Blues

When it comes to tonal dressing, blue is without a doubt one of the easiest colours to combine. Most of us have already got a wardrobe full of sky blue, cobalt and navy – so you should be able to create a variety of stylish ensembles using your existing pieces.

Clashing textures as well as tones will ensure your outfit is both dynamic and interesting.

For example, go off-duty by pairing classic stonewash Levi’s with a navy cable knit jumper and bleached denim shirt for a contemporary take on double denim that is perfect for winter weekends:

  • Asos Denim Shirt In Long Sleeve With Blasting
  • Religion Jumper In Waffle Knit
  • Vintage Renewal Levis Slim Leg Jeans

Alternatively, dress the look up with a blue velvet blazer, navy trousers and a crisp pale blue shirt; a sharp and considered tonal outfit for any party season event:

  • Topman Light Blue Long Sleeve Smart Shirt
  • River Island Blazer In Blue Velvet
  • Topman Navy Jacquard Skinny Suit Trousers
Lookbook Inspiration

he bt mango winter 2013 windsor 2012 Strellson sportswear aw13 h&m aw12 gant rugger aw13 j crew pre fall 2013 massimo dutti september 2013 Boglioli aw12 he by mango ss12

Seeing Red

From scarlet to salmon, you can never go wrong with shades of red. However, to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb in the dreaded tomato hue, it’s best to gravitate towards dark and light tones.

Nothing says festive like red, so it’s the perfect hue for the office Christmas bash. Below we’ve chosen a rich corduroy blazer to complement a subtle rose shirt. Finish off the stand out ensemble with burgundy trousers, red brogues and a large glass of Merlot:

  • Polo Ralph Lauren Plain Oxford Slim Fit Shirt
  • Burberry London Slim-fit Corduroy Blazer
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Dyed Cotton Chinos
  • Okeeffe Algy Hand-polished Leather Wingtip Brogues

For the morning after? Nothing disguises a hangover like an impeccable tonal outfit. For a casual but fun take on the trend, start with a pair of bright Nike runners to lighten your mood, then combine with brown chinos and a bleached burgundy t-shirt.

Avoid too many bright elements, though, as you don’t want to intensify any headaches:

  • New Look T-shirt In Burn Out Burgundy Wash
  • Asos Slim Chino
  • Nike Air Pegasus 83/30 Trainers in Red
Lookbook Inspiration

loewe aw13 Joseph Abboud aw11 house of fraser aw12 house of fraser aw12 berluti ss14 j linderberg aw12 drykorn aw13 cerruti aw13 Strellson aw13

Down To Earth

Another way to approach the tonal trend is by opting for an earth palette. Browns, creams, greens and khakis are natural tones that are autumn/winter-appropriate and complement one another beautifully.

If you don’t yet own a tweed suit, now is your chance to get your hands on one as it makes the perfect base for an earthy tonal outfit. Pair it with a cream shirt and add a splash of emerald – an eye-catching shade that happens to be trending right now. We suggest this silk tie from Reiss to get you started:

  • Topman Brown Tweed Herringbone Suit
  • Barbour Leaton Shirt With Flecking
  • Reiss Cutler Knitted Silk Tie Emerald

Want an off-duty outfit you can throw on and still look great in? Camouflage gives you an instant tonal look; opt for a high-density shirt and wear it open over a beige tee.

Finish it off with a green fisherman beanie, coordinating trousers and a pair of brogue boots:

  • Asos T-shirt With Crew Neck And Slubby Jersey
  • Wemoto Shirt With Camo Print
  • Asos Jacket In Quilted Fabric
  • Asos Fisherman Beanie Hat In Two Colour Rib
  • J.crew Broken In Slim-fit Cotton-twill Chinos
  • ASOS Leather Brogue Boots
Lookbook Inspiration

sisley aw13 river island aw12 primark aw12 gant rugger aw13 Chevignon ss13 Strellson aw13 tesco f&f aw13 reiss aw13 Woolrich John Rich & Bros aw13

Shades Of Grey

Refined and always in vogue, grey is possibly one of the most underrated hues out there. Although often used to complement or finish an outfit off, it’s also the perfect shade to build an entire outfit from. Sometimes one neutral colour is all you need to make a sophisticated style statement with.

Create a cool slate look that is ideal for cold grey weekends. If you opt for a classic grey crew neck tee and charcoal jeans combination this winter, finish the outfit off with an undone cardigan layered on top.

If you’ve got the budget go for the Comme des Garçons Play version below, it’s a statement piece that is both casual and sophisticated:

  • Commodity Stock Basic One Pocket Tee
  • Black Play Mens Cardigan Grey
  • Anerkjendt Jake Magnet Jeans In Grey

For a smarter take on the colour, wear a textured grey blazer over a charcoal polo neck. Finish the outfit off with a pair of woollen trousers several tones lighter than the blazer for a dynamic look that is both appropriate for the office and the weather:

  • Topman Black Roll Neck Jumper
  • Reiss Bonnivelle Speckled Blazer Grey
  • Reiss Townsend Flannel Check Trousers Grey
Lookbook Inspiration

zara man april 2011 zara man aw12 allsaints reiss calibre ss14 7 for all mankind ss12 he by mango winter 2013 Strellson aw13 Luigi Bianchi Mantova aw13

Finishing Touches

Emphasise the way you wear the trend by colour-coordinating accessories with your outfit to bring the whole look together. You can afford to be more daring here, so have fun and opt for brighter shades when picking out your finishing touches.

For instance, complement an earthy ensemble with a racing green pocket square, or add a pair of neon yellow socks to a creamy tonal outfit.

A cobalt tie polishes off a navy suit and sky blue shirt combination perfectly whilst a pair of white leather driving gloves offers a nice contrast against a greyscale look this winter.

Final Word

This trend can be risky and sporting head-to-toe tonal pieces requires careful consideration. Get it right and you’ll be a sartorial king, choose the wrong hue of blue and you’ll have onlookers wondering whether you’ve put the outfit together on purpose.

The trick is to juxtapose shades and textures to provide that essential contrast between pieces – do this and you’ll be turning heads for all the right reasons.

So, whether you choose to go down a classic all-over navy look, or bring things right up to date by reaching for an emerald green shade; set the tone this winter and watch others follow as you wear your tonal ensemble with confidence and panache.

Now you know how to wear the trend, it’s your turn to get experimental with even more colours. The spectrum is your oyster: how about a zesty head-to-toe look in shades of burnt orange with flashes of citrus? Or perhaps a darker take that incorporates midnight and noir shades. Maybe you’ll go green with envy in everything from mint to sage.

Let us know your personal styling ideas in the comments section below…