The monochrome dresser’s guide to summer dressing 

If florals are for spring then pastels, pretty patterns, sorbet-tones, and the colour palettes of Riviera-set Euro films of the 1960s are most definitely for summer. Between bikinis, beach bags and everything in between — peppy tones tend to have a stronghold on summer collections.

Pretty though they may be, there’s a slim chance that they’ll make their way into your shopping cart or wardrobes if your sartorial shades of choice are—quite literally—shades.

Well, my fellow black and white (but let’s be real, mostly black) devotees, I’ve got you covered. Well, New Zealand’s incredible designers do. You won’t have to resort to Wednesday-Addams-at-the-beach aesthetics to stay true to your tonal scheme this summer, because we’ve picked out some of the best shade-friendly pieces to keep you stylish.

Monochratic Summer dressing

Wallace Trouser in Ivory from Harris Tapper, $469 (left), The Equality Shirt in White from hej hej, $150 (centre), Sunday shorts from Caitlin Crisp, $285.00 (right).

Linen loving
If you’ve got a knack for the colour black, the chances that you’ve had the phrase “aren’t you hot wearing that?!” thrown your way more often than is palatable.

The answer to keeping your cool—both literally, and when on the receiving end of such a comment—is none other than linen. Breathable, chic, flowing yet structured: it ticks all the boxes for summer dressing. Better yet, the chances of finding your beloved black and white colours in a linen style are sky high.

White linen has to be the undisputed king of casual, colour-free, summer dressing. Don’t just take our word for it, it’s been the summertime uniform of the Riviera since way back. And with good reason: it feels fresh, light, airy and breezy and doesn’t tend to show smudges from your SPF. Shirts are easily the most versatile wardrobe or pool-side iteration of linen: use them as a cover up, tuck it in shorts, or tie it in front for a Bardot-like twist. Our pick of the crop? None other than leading linen purveyors Hej Hej and their unisex and oh-so-versatile Equality Shirt.

Harris Tapper’s Resort 2021 collection, Liaison, has a bounty of structured yet summery pieces — like the Palazzo-style Wallace Trouser in Ivory in a cotton and linen blend. It’ll deliver the perfect blend of breathability, coverage, and of course, stylability to complement your monochromatic summer wardrobe. As for a black iteration, Zambesi’s Poolsiders Pants are perfect — and aptly named, if you ask me.

So let’s stick to the important shade in this equation—and the one most of us are probably here for if we identify as a monochromatic dresser: black. This season, we’re absolutely loving Caitlin Crisp black iterations of classic linen silhouettes: the Short Sleeve Crisp Shirt and the Sunday Shorts.

Monochratic Summer dressing

Classical Crop from Jojo Ross, $169 (left), Atlanta Camisole from RUBY, $149 (centre), Senna Top from Knuefermann, $165 (right).

Summer-Friendly Structure
My former luxury marketing professor—a Parisian and former executive from Chanel, who also had a knack for monochromatic dressing—once shared with me the well-known wisdom that people who are borderline obsessive with their love for luxury sports cars are almost always guaranteed to be huge fans of timepieces.

For us monochromatic dressers, there’s a similar maxim that follows us around. Our dedication to a lack of colour extends to us falling into two distinct silhouettes camps: we’re either all about super structured or free-flowing silhouettes.

So, if clean lines and structured pieces are your thing, Jojo Ross’ latest collection has just this – with hot ticket items being the Classical Crop and the Cirrus in our beloved shades, of course. Want something sculptural? Then the slinky yet structured asymmetrical Atlanta Camisole will be a perfect wardrobe addition – especially to take the place as the ‘nice top’ in your next ‘jeans and a nice top’ look, as the RUBY team knows.

As for one that sits somewhere in the middle of structured yet flowing? Knuefermann’s Senna Top is absolutely it. Not to mention, the Ravenhue collection it sits in is all about chic, jet-black staples — many of which are just perfect for summer.

Monochratic Summer dressing

Space Jam Dress from Jimmy D, $695 (left), Tulip crop, $345 and Newport shorts, $365 from Caitlin Crisp (right).

Fun, flouncy, and going with the flow
Flutter and flounce are high on the list of loved summertime silhouettes. It’s easy to see why, it’s fun, helps you keep cool, plus it’s simply whimsical to flitter about doing summer activities with a billowing garment in tow. So, just because you skip out on the pretty pastels they’re usually iterated in, doesn’t mean you should skip out on this fun moment.

Want full-on flowing shapes? Head to Jimmy D for some draped deliciousness. The Space Jam Dress is the case in point, and makes both a great statement coverup, or something sensational for the soirees of your social calendar. Caitlin Crisp is delivering a dash of volume too — with the voluminous ruched Tulip Top and skort-like, ruffled Newport Shorts taking the cake too.

Monochratic Summer dressing

Version dress from Kowtow, $219 (left), Luminous dress from su’mar the label, $375 (centre), Georgia Dress from Juliette Hogan, $549 (right).

A trusty dress always makes for a great summer staple. Between it being an easy choice for your summer soirees (or picnics), popping on post-swim, or simply breezing about in, there are endless reasons as to why we should add them into our wardrobe — in our shade of choice, of course.

Kowtow has a stunning selection in a range of simple yet chic styles in our beloved black. Between spaghetti straps, v-necks, tank topped, capped-sleeved, or oversized styles like the Version Dress, there’s something for everyone. Want to take the party factor up a notch? Su’mar the Label’s Luminous Dress is the perfect one to chaperone you from garden party to evening festivities with just the right touch of je-ne-sais-quoi. Another label with black (and occasionally white) summer dresses galore this season is Juliette Hogan, with plenty of midi, maxi, and tea-length dresses in all kinds of styles — like this chic little number, the Georgia Dress.

Monochratic Summer dressing

Crossover Swim Top, $119 and Crossover Swim brief, $89 from Rachel Mills (left), Moontide Beach Luxe Splice One Piece Swimsuit, $119.99 (centre), Rouched swimsuit from Knuefermann, $165 (right).

Black and white at the beach
Of course, no summer style piece is complete without a mention of swimwear. Designers that have our monochromatic tastes in mind this year are Rachel Mills with a stunning array of mix and match of all cuts and sizes, Moontide with both chic bikinis and one pieces galore (like the Beach Luxe Splice), as well as Knueferman’s recently released Rouched swimsuit. Speaking of Knuefermann: it’s worth looking at the beach accessories and sarongs in the current collection. They’re impossibly chic, the perfect blend between simple and something special, and of course, fitting to our beloved black and white palette. But there again, would we expect anything less from one of our local queens of monochrome fashion?

Images supplied.

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