Several days ago, in a weak moment, I clicked on some links to coverage of the impending wedding of Amal Alamuddin and that famous actor. That day's photos showed Alamuddin in a striped black and white sundress, but many descriptions of it used a word I found odd: They called the garment "a striped monochrome dress."*
"Monochrome" (literally "one color") can of course mean black and white (or grayscale) if you’re talking about art or photography or film. Essentially, that usage doesn’t count the background as a color, but only the medium used to create the image or design.
But this was the first time I'd seen this "monochrome" extended to clothing. If you told me someone tended to dress in monochrome, I’d picture her in shades of one color, not in wide black and white stripes.
It’s not that I can’t see the parallel -- if a wallpaper design can be a monochrome print, why not a fabric? In fact, I've probably seen toile de Jouy prints called monochromatic; of course, as representational scenes, they seem closely related to art. So maybe the oddity, for me, was that the contrasting stripes of Alamuddin’s dress are equally prominent, so neither color comes across as "background."
So far, the sources calling the dress (and other black and white striped clothing) "monochrome" seem to be British, so maybe this is a shade of meaning that simply hasn’t gained much traction on these shores. But if it's not here yet, I expect it to arrive any minute, borne on the wings of Zara and H&M.
*Quote and photo from the Daily Mail.