Never Basic, Always Monochrome

My style has started to become synonymous with monochrome, but that doesn’t mean it’s basic!   I think there is something so clever and sophisticated in monochromatic looks. And it’s so easy to do! Colors are over-rated.

To show you the versatility and ease in monochrome, I partnered up with Old Navy to style two casual Spring looks with their new #neverbasic tees.

The Modern Otter | Old Navy #NeverBasic tees

I firmly believe the foundation of a great wardrobe is one or two colors. For guys, it’s usually blue, grey or black. Everything else builds out from there. Living in New York City, I see enough black clothing to last a lifetime, so I veer towards blue and grey. Those two colors pair perfectly together and you can mix and match with all the other colors in the spectrum. This season, I layered in cream to soften the palette a bit. It’s fresh, while still falling in the same wave as light grey.

When getting dressed, I have three things I always look out for: texture, layers and shades.

Texture: With this first look, I started with a heathered raglan tee. Almost all of my looks start with a great tee, either layered under a sweater or as a stand alone under a light jacket. The marled texture of this raglan adds visual interest, but I particularly love raglans because they make your shoulders look broader! The diagonal seam across your chest draws your eye outward and gives the appearance of a broad shoulder. It’s a visual trick. 

I have been putting in a lot of work at the gym, but raglans are my cheat! This tee is great because it has those classic sweatshirt details (like the ‘V’ stitching at the neckline), but it’s light enough to wear all Summer long. Win win.

The Modern Otter | Old Navy #NeverBasic tees

Layers: In the middle of the Summer, I’m not going to wear a jacket, so I substitute “layers” with “pattern”. But while it’s still cool outside, throw on a lightweight jacket! The stripes in this lightweight windbreaker bring that nautical trend that is so classic for Spring, but you can easily ditch it and still look pulled together (thanks to the monochrome palette). Layers typically add interest when you’re wearing all solids, so this checks off multiple boxes.

The Modern Otter | Old Navy #NeverBasic tees

Shades / hue / warm vs. cool: This one is a little harder to describe, so I’ll use grey as an example… Within the grey family, there are ‘warm’ greys and ‘cool’ greys. That means the shade itself has more red/tan/yellow in it vs. blue/green. This raglan tee is a warm grey, which is why it pairs perfectly with cream denim. The two shades play well with one another. 

If it was more of a blue/grey, I would opt for indigo denim, grey denim or blue chinos. Any time you’re wearing more than two shades of grey (or any color), ensure they are all the same temperature. 

For my second look, I branched out a bit more. These linen joggers are actually a cool grey, but have a lot of blue in them. To tie them in with the grey tee and cream denim jacket, I pulled out my grey oxfords with the blue sole. It’s not quiet monochromic overall, but we’re sticking to two hues, so it’s pretty close. I would say the softness of all of the shades keeps it looking streamlined and sophisticated. What do you think?

The Modern Otter | Old Navy #NeverBasic tees

Still grounded in a great #neverbasic tee! This one is the linen-blend pocket tee. Linen is one of those great fabrics for Summer because it breathes so amazingly well. You can make incredibly thin fabrics that fit fantastic and have a great natural texture because of the variations in the fiber. Linen tees and sweaters are quickly becoming staples in my Spring wardrobe.

The Modern Otter | Old Navy #NeverBasic tees

Let me know your thoughts on monochromatic dressing below and let me know if you need any other tips on how to make your shoulders broader. I’m sure my trainer has a few too. ;)

Not digging the monochrome?? Will from Bright Bazaar has a few tips on how to style #makeyousmilestyle tees in bright colors! Check out his #neverbasic post here!


Everything on is 30% off right now too, and most of these pieces are already on promotion! Check em out:

First look: Old Navy raglan tee / striped lightweight windbreaker / slim fit jeans

Second look: Old Navy denim trucker jacket / linen pocket tee / linen-blend joggers

Posted in collaboration with Old Navy; all views my own

StyleAaron Wester