Spring Summer 2018 Trend: Tonal Dressing

by Jamie Wilson

Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA

It’s a uniformed, striking look that can add a dynamic twist to your outfit, and it’s one of the key trends this spring and summer. Tonal dressing is back, and with our varied range of coloured pieces, we’ll show you some of the best looks you can pull off when the sun comes out. 

What is Tonal Dressing?

Tonal dressing is one of those looks that’s both simplistic and striking and is able to bring out the uniformity and intensity of one single colour. It’s a look that’s been popular over the years, and one version that’s been embraced by the minimalist lovers is the all-black look, which gives off a clean, intense finish. However, despite this statement, flattering style, it’s time for something a little different.

Taking on bolder colours such as pink, stone and navy blue, and working them into a single outfit is an easy way to give you a uniformed, elegant look, without having to worry about what colour complements another.

However, if you still don’t like the idea of just one colour taking centre stage in your outfit, then there are ways you can break the rules and add in an extra colour to calm things down. With the right colour to complement the look, such as a neutral black or white, you can create a less in-your-face outfit that still doesn’t shy away from a striking finish.

The Complete Guide To Tonal Dressing

Key Examples of Tonal Dressing

Tonal dressing doesn’t have to be tricky to grasp. In fact, once you get your head around it, it’s really easy and straightforward to achieve. From pink tonal looks to navy blue and white ensembles, take a look at our favourite ways to dress in the same colours.

How to Master Tonal Dressing

Navy Tonal Look

Starting with one of the more neutral outfits of our collection, this all navy coloured ensemble with a minimal splash of white gives off a relaxed workwear vibe while embracing a structured, crisp look. The heavy zip jacket takes centre stage, working with the slightly warmer navy chinos to keep the outfit sleek and slim-line.

Adding in the neutral white colour keeps the ensemble from being dragged down too far into the deep basin, navy void and creates a striking contrast in tones. Don’t overdo it though, as you still want the deep blue colour to be the main focus here. Just the dash of a white sweater and some all white trainers is enough to create a well balanced, yet tonally inspired outfit.

Your FAQ's About Tonal Dressing

Pink Tonal Look

Not a colour that’s always popular in men’s fashion, yet one that can really give your outfit a clean and artistic vibe. Who said men can’t wear pink? We disagree and think that men actually pull off pink more than women sometimes, so ignore the stigma and go for it. A pastel pink colour is great to work with, and you can create an interesting contrast by pairing it with small dashes of black to break up the light look. When wearing a pink tonal outfit, try to keep the pinks the same tone throughout. A dusty pink vs a fuchsia pink will be a bit too much.

Try out a unique, striking combination by matching a plain pink hoodie with a graphic style sweatshirt in a neutral black and white. While the pink is the main focus, the street style sweatshirt adds an alternative edge to the outfit, ensuring it steers clear of a clean, preppy vibe.

To create a slick summer/spring outfit, why not layer over an open shirt over a plain white T-shirt. You can pair these with some white shorts or even chinos if it’s evening time. This shirt is the perfect crossover between smart and casual, making it the easiest transitional piece to own. Its subtle pattern gives off perfect summer vibes without being too colourful and in-your-face, so you could get away with wearing this shirt on many occasions. With a regular fit and made in a breathable fabric, look no further for your go-to spring/summer tonal shirt.

How To Wear The Tonal Dressing



Stone Tonal Look

The stone colour is a hard one to pin down as it comes in a variety of shades. This actually makes it that much easier to add it in a tonal look, as you can mix in the same colour without it looking too heavy. A dusky pink or stone colour can easily be matched up with a lighter stone tone, creating a combination that’s uniform and maintains a clean balance.

As beige, sand, stone and pink are all fairly similar, you can easily pair them together to create a tonal inspired look that doesn’t hold the same intensity or structure as the previous outfits. When wearing colourful clothing, try to keep your trainers a mutual colour like white or grey. This will allow the colours to stand out without taking too much away from the smooth transition of the outfit.

On That Note

There are so many ways to create subtle tonal looks, as well as more intense and stand out ones. If you’re wondering what colour goes with blue, pink or navy (or whatever colour, really), you can ignore the colour wheels and ‘expert opinions’ and just opt for a single colour outfit. This is the must easier option and saves you having to spend hours getting ready every morning. If however, you’re uncertain about the trend, or just want to create a balanced outfit, adding in minimal neutral pieces can help to tone down the solid colour look, while still staying true to the tonal vibe. Try to stick to white as a base colour (as white goes with everything) and you’ll always be good to go.

Feature image from Pinterest

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