I may physically still be wearing crop tops, shell necklaces, and minidresses (don't @ me), but mentally, I'm very much in the thick of fall. In preparation for the upcoming season, I've been fanatically saving images of the chicest cool-weather looks popping up on my social feeds as if it's my full-time job. And as I flip through my "saved" section, I've noticed a recurring theme: monochromatic outfits. There's something about these tonal looks that feels so polished in that effortless way I'm always trying to achieve.
Since I'm newer to this trend and will admit it feels strangely daunting, I asked two style experts how they're wearing tonal outfits for fall. Both Cheralee Lyle and Krystal Bick are the epitome of chic New York women, and their monochromatic looks are some of the best I've seen (these ones here are all Theory available at Bloomingdale's). Lyle tells me the key to making a single-shade outfit feel intentional is by "finding pieces in different textures or fabrics," and Bick gives me an almost identical answer and an assertive, "I can't stress this enough!" (they must hang out).
Don't worry; they both have plenty more advice where that came from (e.g., neutrals are most definitely the place to start for an epic monochromatic outfit).
When styling her looks, Bick channels her favorite style icons (she swears it's a three-way tie): Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Meghan Markle. "They all embody effortless classic style that truly stands the test of time, regardless of trends," she explains. "They wore clothes. The clothes didn't wear them." This all-grey outfit in particular channels that classic style but with Bick's own modern twist. "I love making a look from yesteryear feel contemporary. Everything comes full circle, doesn't it?" she says, noting how tall and powerful the high-waisted, cinched pants make her feel.
When I first saw this brown look—please note the micro-check print—I immediately thought, What a chic interview outfit (btw, Bick credits the cozy coat). "A classic outwear piece is an investment you'll never regret, and these pants with the matching trench feel so effortlessly pulled together, like a chic English literature professor," she says. I'd probably throw on a cozy tan sweater underneath, but it honestly doesn't matter because the trench is too good to take off.
I was intrigued when Bick told me her favorite tonal look of the season involves shades of green: "A faded pine-green silk blouse, a muted hunter-green leather trouser, and an olive-green fuzzy coat breaks up the color story in a subtle way that allows the eye to process each piece individually without the entire outfit looking like a uniform." I couldn't have said it better myself, and I admire her choice of white accessories over expected black ones.
"I've never worn an all-white look like this one before, but as soon as I put it on, I felt so chic and sophisticated," Lyle says of this next outfit. It's no surprise the number one item on her fall shopping list is an array of quality sweaters in neutral tones and this mock neck version here is proof how essential knits truly are. For a chic finish, Lyle went for black and white accessories, because fashion rules are made to be broken at least a little, no?
Lyle's looks are equally stylish. First up, a classic black outfit made cool by way of multiple textures ("It gives the look depth and makes it more interesting," she notes.) Instead of reaching for denim, these versatile black leather pants add a polished touch, especially when paired with this oversize shearling coat.
"I love that suits are back for fall," Lyle says, and this final outfit makes a strong case for not necessarily wearing a perfectly matching one. Instead, suiting separates worn in similar shades and prints (don't be afraid to pair two checked pieces) takes monochromatic dressing to a much cooler, much less boring level.