Tone on Tone Styling Tips for K-Fashion Beginners

by Isabel Bang

If we think of those people around us that we perceive to have “good style,” they would always have a good sense of ‘colour’. Like so, the way people use colour in fashion is one of the most important aspects in bringing an outfit together. 

‘Tone on tone’ styling, a.k.a. ‘tonal dressing’, means to have all clothing items based on a single colour hue, yet varying on their ‘tone’ or brightness. This has been a very steady fashion trend in Korea for many years now, since one would only have to study their colours correctly to pull this style off. Oppositely, wearing items based on the same tone but different hues is called ‘tone in tone’, but let’s stick to the 'tone on tone' for this article to make things easier for now 😂 The reason why Koreans and many other fashion-centric countries prefer ‘tone on tone’ outfits is because it gives that fabulous #effortlesschic vibe 👌 Also, the consistent hue throughout your pieces easily gives you a stylish and an integrated look!

1. Black / Grey

Who doesn't love black and white? I too am a black lover when it comes to clothes, but to make the outfit more polished, you need to step it up and mix them colours. Monochrome colours give a chic and smart mood when matched with shirts and dress pants, and a gothic hipster vibe with casual t-shirts and denim. If you choose a black top, try wearing it with dark grey denim to give a mix of tone and texture, as you create your street style. Or with a grey top, match your bottom a tone darker for a cleaner look or go even lighter for look fresher!

2. Brown / Ivory

This is definitely the staple colour scheme Koreans stick to in the colder seasons. The mix of ivory and brown gives off a warm and cosy impression, making it the perfect colours for knitted sweaters and duffle coats. If you’re a person who suits warm colours, ivory, beige, and brown will fit you perfectly! Cream coloured wide jeans are one of the items trending in Korea, which can either create a mood all the way from casual to semi-formal. Simply match those pants with brown or beige coloured knit sweaters, shirts, vests, cardigans, etc.

3. Blue

If the brown colour family was for those who love warm tone items, blue is definitely in the cool tone category! Whether you wear a lighter tone on the top or the bottom, it can totally go both ways. You can choose to have a sky coloured t-shirt or an overshirt, then  choose navy dress pants for a semi-formal office look. On top of that, if you go with light grey coloured shoes and bags, you can make your outfit seem more mature and calm. For street looks, maybe match a blue jumper with light denim jeans and white sneakers to finish off.

4. Pink / Burgundy

For when you want to trial with pink or red, it’s best to go a tone down in winter! Your main item could be indie pink or burgundy coloured instead - or maybe mix them up together! For your shoes and bags, brown and ivory hues would be the easiest go-to. For more important occasions, try matching an ivory blouse and silky dress pants in dark pink or burgundy to create an elegant look.

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