Beyond Vanilla Girl: 19 Monochromatic Spice-Inspired Looks

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The TikTok Vanilla Girl trend has been creating a creamy stir lately — and, according to some, a very homogenized one, at that. The aesthetic focuses on a monochromatic style with shades of cream, off-white, and beige. It's a minimalist look that includes silhouettes that are soft yet demure. So, overall, an entirely lovely look, no argument there. But the trend has come under fire, with many flagging concerns that it encourages preferential ethnicity divisions since most of the influencers promoting the aesthetic are thin, white, and blond.

Vanilla Girl has divided public opinion and prompted countless reactions — all of which are far from the neutral tones the aesthetic is known for. With this in mind, reaction posts generate criticism, like that within TikTok influencer Daring Darling's video opinion post. One commenter was quick to point out that the divisive trend isn't limited to race; they said, " Welp, I'm a Jewish redhead. Guess I'm out." While another echoed one of the trend's most significant criticisms, which is that "... only certain kinds of women can be the vanilla girl. Unlike the other aesthetics."

But the debate isn't centered on monochromatic styling — a chic look coordinated from complementary shades of a single color — but rather on the whiteness of Vanilla Girl. So, if you're looking to steer clear of vanilla and lean into the beauty of the full array of natural spice hues, here are 19 inspirational looks.

Borrow this textured tumeric look from Selena Gomez

Of course, we can rely on Selena Gomez to deliver spice goals. Here she's pairing shades of turmeric — a spice commonly found in curry seasoning blends. The color is an amped-up mustard hue, so it's a great option when you want something earthy but bold. This look is also a masterclass in how to work texture into your monochromatic look. So, mix and match thick, fluffy fabrics like sherpa and faux fur with more low-key textures like Gomez's wool beanie.

Got the blues? It's the new monochromatic motivation

TikTok influencer Aysha Harun proves that feeling blue isn't always a sign that you need to binge Hallmark movies. Instead, she finds inspiration in shades of gray-blue, similar to smoked blue salt. Harun is known for her cool-yet-modest Muslim-centric looks; this all-blue look is classy and effortless. And followers love its versatility, with one commenting, "You're amazing, and it's definitely something a non-Muslim can also comfortably try ... absolutely gorgeous." Case in point, her Amazon store features the top worn here, available in the featured dusty blue, plus six other colors.

Pro tip: not all spices are neutral hues

Monochromatic styling creates a clean aesthetic. And although there's plenty of neutral-hued inspiration out there, it's equally flattering in bold hues like this amped-up cardamom green look. To replicate this look, grab a pair of faux leather pants in green and have some fun with it. For example, ASOS offers a pair for under $44, which can be styled with a flirty wrap-front blouse — all in for under $150.

Saffron is your new sassy soulmate

Saffron is an expensive red spice that has a unique origin story linked to the crocus flower. This flower, as it were, has three deeply hued red stigmas — that little exclamation point that sticks out of the center of a flower. So, these three ruby red whisps are collected to create the luxe saffron used in cooking. But that luxurious vibe also lends itself to firey monochromatic looks, like this satin saffron dress paired with a pair of Chinese Laundry patchwork suede boots.

And if you love saffron, try purple crocus!

If the origin story of saffron piqued your interest, you could style a monochromatic look inspired by the flower it hails from — the purple crocus. We love this mono-moment from German Instagrammer @inaschulzfashion. She plays with various shades of the crocus-purple color and adds contrasting visuals by pairing a long, vertical-pleated skirt with a horizontally-seamed puffer. In this instance, you'd have to be in Germany to grab this look from the source. But you can recreate the look with this Amazon skirt as an affordable option.

Are pink peppercorns the flirtiest of all spices?

When we think of pink peppercorns, we imagine a spice that's a little sassy, perhaps, even a little coquettish. So, this all-pink Trina Turk style is channeling that and more with its ultra-feminine lace. It's also a low-key feisty way to pull off a monochromatic look in a matching short set, and we're here for it. But we're not alone, of course. One Instagram fan commented, "This is the BEST 'on Wednesdays we wear pink' way to wear pink."

What you need to know about spearmint

Spearmint is the subdued, calm cousin of peppermint. In the mint family, peppermint is known to be quite bold and zesty. But if you can imagine peppermint after a long, chill meditation session, that's spearmint! It's a bit more chill and laid back, making it a natural candidate for casual monochromatic looks like this Lake brand roundup. The green sweatshirt dress featured here is a one-and-done way to play with the monochrome trend.

Call it red chili or paprika -- either way, it's hot

You're not alone if you've been thinking that the velour tracksuit is poised to make a comeback. Beyonce is clearly, on-board with this cyclical trend, which keeps popping up. First in the 1970s and again in the 90s, the matching velour sweatsuit trend is a classic mono-inspired fashion staple. You can grab similar looks from the Adidas x Ivy Park collection or lean into the return of the much-loved Y2K-style Juicy Couture tracksuit.

Harvest a cropped peppercorns-inspired look

If you've seen mixed peppercorns, you know it's a blend of reds, browns, and spicy-dark hues. Not only is it a warming spice, but it can also be the inspiration for a cozy cropped sweater look, like this from the Losano brand sweater sets lineup. A spice-inspired look like this is a great example of a spice aesthetic with warm tones that are universally flattering. So, make it your own by styling it as an elevated leisure look, or pop an oversized blazer over it!

This just in, coriander is the new beige

Sometimes beige is misunderstood, and people get a bit salty, calling it boring. But if you think about beige in its ultimate spice-inspiration form — coriander — all of a sudden, you realize beige is insanely beautiful. Take, for instance, this Express workwear look that was put together by TikTok influencer @naomiboyer. Are we partial to a faux leather monochromatic moment? Admittedly, yes. But it's on-trend and chic AF, so we stand by it. Plus, you can rock this coriander style just about anywhere.

Add a pinch of (pink) salt

The color can be surprisingly intense when you gather together a heaping serving of Himalayan pink salt. So, if you think in pink, grab a pair of liquid-shine leggings to recreate Kim Kardashian's monochromatic pink salt style, like the High Rise 7/8 Legging in Takara Shine from Carbon38. From there, you can go casual with some pink platform Converse Chucks. Or, if you want to go all-in on Kim K's sultry-salt look, go all in with pink stiletto pant boots like these from DollsKill.

Note to self: mix in a sprinkle of paprika

This paprika-inspired look was created by Calgary fashion stylist @effie.asante, and it's as close to straight-fire as a spice can get. Not only is it a hot look, but it proves there are so many to play with monochromatic styling. For example, you can mix and match similar hues or keep each piece in the look in absolute harmony. Here, she styles a same-hue sheath dress, knee-high boots, and jacket but swoops in with a slight variation of the same color for the handbag. And it's brilliant.

Create a cinnamon-inspired monochramtic look

Sure, cinnamon has been busy lately, adding pizazz to lattes and such. But now, it's ready for the spotlight, and fashion stylist Lirti Singh is happy to let it shine. She brings together multi-hued, warm-toned pieces in shades of dark cinnamon bark and a bit of nutmeg. It's easy to see how well cinnamon pairs with shades of mustard and even mulberry. And bringing the look together with cinnamon sunnies is all the inspo we need to fill our online carts.

That time the spice fairy delivered cozy romance

It's as if the stylists at LA Relaxed snuck a peek at our favorite mood board because this scene is an absolute dream. The red-on-red look of this saffron-infused look pulls together the coziness of an all-books, no-burdens day with a hint of romance. Both pieces are velvet and can be sourced from the brand's online store; the wide-leg pants and bat-wing raglan top together are velvety reminders that stay-at-home-monochrome deserves its place in the trend as well.

Style an all-mint moment

You can't go wrong if you just run out to the haute herb garden and toss together an all-mint look. Here, D'laport brings together a few subdued shades of mint for a monochromatic style that's seemingly effortless. The cotton fabrics and tie-waist button-down shirt help create a very down-to-earth vibe, but we love the contrast of that strappy sparkle heel. Plus, the account's feed has at least five additional all-mint outfits, so you can explore how minty tints can be styled for day or night looks.

Sumac is having its own spicy little moment

Sumac is an intense red-brown Mediterranean spice, but before we regale you with its in-vogue credentials, there's one thing to clear up. There is a common plant called poison sumac — and, yes, you should not eat it — but the cooking spice, sumac, is a gorgeous and 100% edible delight. Moreover, its color has subtle hints of plum and rust, as seen in this matching set from Rebdolls. So, if you're looking for a universally flattering riff on monochromatic spice-inspired looks, sumac is your new go-to.

Your favorite condiment is made from a spicy seed

Mustard is so damn good, and guess what? It's actually a pureed form of the spicy seeds from the mustard plant — a leafy green vegetable. And, speaking of ... we love the spicy sauce this Ality Designs model is serving up. She's in some of the gender-free brand's mustard-colored pieces, which are perfectly oversized. The look is clean and comfy, so all you need to do is select a shoe that reflects your mood. 

The gorgeous glow of nutmeg

A quick stroll through the TikTok posts of @janesha.moore is just about all you need to know about pulling off a spice-inspired monochromatic look. Though she certainly has pops of color confetti sprinkled about, one of her signature looks is seamless, one-color styles, and she often posts warm hues like cinnamon and coriander. Here she curates a nutmeg look and captions it with, "always monochrome for the win!" It's an easy-to-follow example of how elegant the trend is, especially with a matching boot.

When in doubt, consult the ultimate spice girl -- Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham's fame is rooted in fashion and the 90s all-girl band The Spice Girls. She told Harper's Bazaar UK that the best approach to fashion is to "... make the best version of who you are [and] just stay true to yourself." And with that in mind, there are days you might need more than a singular spice. For example, of all Victoria Beckham's looks – this one stands above the rest since salt and pepper is a timeless classic.