Design

Monochromatic New Yorkers

I just wrote this article for New York Magazine (one of my favorite magazines ever) about five New Yorkers who dress exclusively in one color. Valeria only wears Yves Klein blue, Rebecca only wears gray, Karim wears only all pink or all white, Elizabeth (whom I adored) wears only kelly green and Stephin Merritt (of the Magnetic Fields) wears only brown. It was really fun to scout all the monochromatic people and interview all the awesome characters. If you’re interested, read the story here.

P.S. If you had to wear only one color, which would you choose?

(Photos by Tina Tyrell.)

  1. Oh my goodness! I’ve see “green lady” several times on the subway! I can’t wait to read all about these new Yorkers, but the links aren’t working.. :(

  2. This is pretty amazing! I love them all and love the Idea. Though I imagine for me, just one color would lead me to others after a while.

  3. I loved the last comment about tuxedos–what a fun article overall!

    I think I’d probably pick gray, but I really am drawn to blue. I think I’d have an easier time going all gray than all blue. But I doubt I would be happy with a monochromatic wardrobe.

  4. I just read this article for the first time and I loved it! So interesting! Wow!

    P.S. you’re awesome!!

  5. Well, I do not really believe this will have success.

  6. that was a great story!

  7. ed says...
  8. Anonymous says...
  9. I think might favorite might be Karim, just look at him!

  10. hooray. this article rocked! i feel a little behind the times becuase i just barely read it, but it made me so happy. fantastic job jg!

    i could definitely wear one color (grey) but would want to wear colorful jewelry.

  11. Charcoal grey.

  12. Look at all the comments! I posted about your article on my blog and got a heap of comments there too. You’re one clever lady!

  13. Anonymous says...

    do you know tinkebell? she only wears pink! (just google her..)

    ilona.

  14. noir.all.the.way says...

    I would choose black black black. Easy.
    Great article, congrats!

  15. Great read Jo! Thanks.

  16. HOLY COMMENT EXPLOSION! This is a FANTASTIC article, Jo— congratulations! Brilliant job with the concept on this one; I only wish I’d thought of it first! :)

    CONGRATS!!!

  17. I read your article in New York last night and got really excited! My boyfriend was really excited too because he rides the F train with the lady who wears all green often and was happy to hear her story finally.
    Fantastic work, it was such a great article.

  18. I actually have a friend who wears all purple. She even drives a car with a big purple pinstripe thing! I threaten to buy her other colors but she wouldn’t wear it! She’s a first grade teacher and everyone loves her.

    I have a huge stack of red sweaters so I if I could only wear one color: red. Red converse sneakers are on my shopping list now!!!

  19. congrats on a unique piece – well done! I would be black or lavender blue.. but preferably a combo.

  20. Oh how cool! Congrats on writing such a groovy article. I would prob wear Navy, boring huh, but that would be the one.

  21. you are a star! I love the article and love these people. so nice to see you yesterday xo Abbey

  22. I just read this article during my commute this morning! :) I loved it, so much fun. I want to be like Elizabeth when I (don’t) grow up.

  23. Great article Jo! What interesting characters! I love how the gray girl switched to gray after wearing turquoise for 8 years…so funny. Love NY Mag!

  24. Interesting Read! I would choose white

  25. fantastic!!

  26. mama says...

    fabulous job!

  27. jmg says...

    Do I see green hair in one of these pics????

  28. What an amazing story idea! I totally can’t relate tho – just ONE colour? impossible for me. Off to read the whole story now…

  29. My friend saw Beck and his girlfriend at the Guggenheim once. They were both wearing pink–head to toe.

    I think I would choose some shade of green. Can’t wait to read your story.

  30. thank you so much, everyone! this is all so sweet, i am really touched and happy:)

    and funnily, jeannie, there were actually way more people than this–i guess monochromatic is actually a bigger than we thought! :)

    xojoanna

  31. When I lived in Idaho, there was a librarian at the public library who only wore purple (including dyed purple hair!).

    Great work, Joanna!

    Anne

  32. How exciting! Congratulations, Joanna! The article was great.

  33. I am already kinda like this…only I only wear red, black and white. I always need to have something red. My house is all red….However lately I have tried to branch out and I now have some yellow and blue clothes…but I do feel wierd without red.

  34. Anonymous says...

    I would wear black or brown- no fail -and no one really notices that you are monochromatic.

  35. I love the brown of Stephen Merritt – go, Steven. You look great.

  36. jmg says...

    This article is so interesting – good on you!

  37. Anonymous says...

    I only wear “nude.” It is so easy because if I don’t feel energetic, I don’t have to do the wash or get dressed…

  38. Anonymous says...

    Love the kelly green lady – she is lovely!!!!!!!

  39. great article!!!! loved it =)
    i dont think i could limit myself to jsut one colour i love them all to much…

  40. Great article! You asked such good questions, and I love all their answers!

    For me, I would choose either brown or navy. I don’t like to draw too much attention to myself…

  41. this is so awesome…I would choose black with white and maybe some yellow…oh wait, I already wear basically only those colors…

  42. You are so awesome!! I loved this article and you did such a fantastic job with it. A true talent!

    I have no clue what color…perhaps navy would be really interesting. But I’m normally drawn to whites, creams, golds, silvers. I wouldn’t do well sticking with just one color.

  43. oh, wow joanna! this is endlessly fascinating. i guess didn’t realize people did this. great idea!
    i would be strong-willed enough to do this myself. there are too many beautiful colors!

  44. Geri says...

    Brilliant idea for an article. Wish I had thought of it.

    Well done.

  45. what a great article. and for the New Yorker, how exciting! I’ve always wanted to just wear white but I would have to add blue in for my blue jeans and maybe pops of color with scarves and shoes. Great read!

  46. OMG!!!! I knew this one guy who only wore red. I think if I were to only wear one color aside from blue jean, I would wear yellow or gold because it looks really good on my skin! OMG I am so going to try that this Spring. Nothing but yellow and gold. With the exception of what I’ve already bought last year.

  47. SW says...

    What a great article! I like that all of these people totally fit their color!

  48. wow i just love this article!! so thought provoking, I’m writing a post on my blog right now

  49. omg! what a great article & concept. such a wonderful piece. congrats!

  50. congrats joanna!
    i never thought you would find this many people – sometimes i forget how original people are here in our great city.

  51. hey joanna,

    great piece.
    you know i love this.
    beautiful photos too.

    jon huck

  52. Have you ever heard of the artist Man Woman?He wears only Yellow but does not live in NYC.

  53. Great post, Joanna! I love monochromatic shots! Hmm, I think I’d pick that blue. I’m obsessed with cobalt and electric blues lately.

  54. Jo says...

    very strange and very fascinating.
    I love wearing tons of colors at once so this would be hard but I think I would be red and green together.

  55. what a great piece! as far as colors, hmmmm, let me think. . .i’d pick black and white {surprise, surprise}!

  56. Teal. You will pry teal from my cold dead hands.

    That said, I would weep copiously as you took away my burgundy, orange, purple, and green.

    Although I’d miss brown and blue, I could live without them.

    You can have black, though. And red. And white. I’m not using those much anyway.

  57. I love this. Every so often I wish I could just cultivate some odd eccentricity. Just cause.

  58. Great read and photos!

  59. congrats on the article! that’s so exciting…and Elizabeth, with the green and that expression on her face — priceless! …so adorable.
    This topic is really interesting…I never knew people were so invested in one color; it’s surreal.
    – Jessie –

  60. Black for winter, white for summer, blue for spring and grey for autumn… But i’d sparkle some bits of colours on top…

  61. beautiful, what a great story, well done! you know where to find me if you need some styling for your stories (this one looks like it would have been so much fun!!) px

  62. Incredible! I can’t wait to read the full article…

  63. wow cool post totallyy love it!
    I love the blue one the most :) she looks great
    i think i would choose grey though. most of my colours are grey.. id wear grey and white :) great blog

  64. That’s a super fun story. :)
    Hmmm, if I could only wear one color I think it would be RED! Fun stuff! (close second would be purple).
    Great post!
    Good story!
    Rock on.

  65. That’s a super fun story. :)
    Hmmm, if I could only wear one color I think it would be RED! Fun stuff! (close second would be purple).
    Great post!
    Good story!
    Rock on.

  66. How very cool! Great article Jo and what a fun and interesting read – I love it!

  67. wow! that takes some ferocious commitment! i might have to choose white. i think people who dress is all white are totally glamourous!

  68. What a fascinating article. I loved it. Congratulations! I wore mostly brown in my late teens and early 20’s and have had several mostly black phases. I love the look of monochromatic grey, so I’d probably go with that if I had to choose. Thanks for sharing.

  69. thank you so much for all these lovely comments. you are all so sweet.

    and vic, yes, stephin merritt was super super hilarious and awesome. he’s kind of quiet and pauses a lot, and he has a very deadpan sense of humor, which is why people might assume he’s hard to talk to. but he is actually very nice and awesome. it would be my huge dream to be his friend.

  70. I loved the article, thanks for sharing! I would wear white (technically not a color..). Because it would mean that is was summer (I am blond with fair skin color – I can only wear white in summer). Hating winters, I can’t wait for summer time to arrive!

  71. Brilliant article…found it through Bits and Bobbins blog. And I’m going to feature it on my own blog because its just so interesting!

    I want through a phase in my teenage years of wearing purple…it wasn’t monochromatic as a rule but I was coming close to it! Eventually i had to ban myself from buying any more purple to force myself to wear more colour! Now I love combining colours and I’m not sure i could do monochrome…but if I was going to do it I’d probably go back to purple again.

  72. Jo- Colorful Article! I think I would have a hard time with only one color as I love the way colors mix and I am a 4-seasons gal, love all the colors, green grass in spring and beach inspired for summer, Autumn is orange, red, brown, gold. Winter is White or Red.
    Love that they are loyal to the colors they love.

  73. AWESOME article! you should be tres proud of you! as for me…all black, all the time. if i were more adventuresome, it would be head-to-toe turquoise!

    really. great work.

  74. I love Stephin Merritt’s answers…hmm if I only wore one colour it would be petrol blue – I used to wear it so much I got nicknamed Petrolia.

  75. oh but that kelly green..so nice!

  76. when i was in primary school the mother of a boy in my class wore only purple in lots of layers..
    we all thought she was a bit loopy, but i think it would be fun to dress in one colour..im not sure which i would pick though..you? (ooh and great story!)

  77. Fun! I only buy my husband the same color socks because of a problem with the washing machine eating one of a pair. But that’s not the same thing, is it?

  78. Ju says...

    Bloody hard question…but I think either black (which was fine when I lived in a big city) or maybe an inky teal blue. Hmmm.
    GREAT story by the way!!

  79. I had an art teacher in high school who only wore one colour. -the colour changed every day but she was always monochrome -purple, green, red -strong colours. I think she once told me she got her sets from Italy…

  80. what an amazing concept for an article… and what incredible images. i got the great opportunity to meet karim rashid in dubai at his gallery opening! he was so interesting… and i couldn’t keep my eyes off of his bright pink watch!

  81. this is so intriguing! how fun it must have been to do the photo session for this story too, the colorists among their hue… :)

  82. So interesting… I don’t think that I could choose just one color but I loved reading about why and how they chose their color.

  83. p.s. i never realized stephin merritt only wore one color, and who would have ever thought it was brown? random.

  84. This story is phenomenal. Not only for the fact of how spectacular these people and their wardrobes are but because you interviewed Stephin Merrit!!!!!!!! I’ve always heard that he is notoriously difficult to talk to. He is such a hero of mine! I am jealous and in awe. You are a star. xx

  85. This article turned out so wonderfully! I love the YKB and of course, Stephin Merritt. I can’t even remember what he wore the last time I saw him in concert, but I guess it must have been brown!

    I don’t think I could ever be monochromatic, but I wouldn’t mind wearing grey and brown for the rest of my life.

    Great job, Joanna! The photos are fabulous, too!

  86. Great article – congrats! And if I had to wear only one colour, it would probably be grey…

  87. this is a great piece! that’s a tough question…i think navy. i love navy and really feel like there are not enough clothes made in navy. however, that is probably the appeal. i feel like everything looks so chic and classic in navy.

  88. yes, haha. rebecca wore all turquoise and switched….funny that the email made it to you. i sent it to almost everyone i’d ever met :)

    thank you so much, my lovelies!!

  89. oh, whoops! apparently rebecca wears gray now! this is what i get for commenting before i read an article. glad to see that she was featured.

  90. that’s funny; my friend melena sent me an email about this article asking me if i knew anyone! what fantastic photos!!

    have you seen rebecca turbow? she wears only turquise and white.

    i think i would wear different shades of pinks to reds.

  91. jo says...

    OH, WOW!!!

    i would go with purple.

  92. dude! it turned out so well. I LOVE.

  93. wow! so interesting.
    i don’t think i could possibly pick just one…or maybe if i did, it would be one a month so i could switch it up at some point!

  94. Anonymous says...

    red. weird, i know.

  95. OMG. I love it! These people are fantastic. I wear two colors almost all the time- black and navy.

  96. Stripes! Not a color technically but almost. To me.
    And Valeria is one brave lady — also lucky this time of year.

  97. Wow, what a fun story!

    Judging by my closet one would think black or maybe maroon, but I could not give up all those other beautiful colors!

  98. What fabulous photos, and a great story!