Auntie Mame, Paloma Faith, Cher, Diana Vreeland, Iris Apfel—pop culture is full of famous fashion maximalists who spread the good word about marabou trim, muumuus and metallic mule sandals. These over-the-top idols serve as symbols of what it truly means to sartorially NGAF, but they might not be the most *relatable* icons when it comes to every day dressing in 2019. Co-working spaces have given us permission to be more casual with our wardrobes, and braving the subway while wearing five different prints isn’t for everyone. Yet you don’t have to relinquish maximal leanings to the peacocks who walk among us; pieces that have novel silhouettes, dizzying patterns and bright colourways can be incorporated into your wardrobe if you take note of a few styling tricks.
One of the ways many of today’s bolder influencers take on the maximalism trend is by giving those loud pieces space to breathe, whether through colour use or baring some skin. Take a cue from Calgarian blogger Ania B., for example, who recently wore a zebra-print midi dress with a mix of all-white accessories (western boots, a petite beaded bag). It was eclectic but cool, not kooky.
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Halifax-based content creator Musemo Handahu loves to pair pared-back strappy sandals to tone down her lavish outfits. And Norwegian style sensation Marianne Theodorsen combines sportier items with flowy skirts, boxy blazers and bright accessories, like an adorable hairclip or two; she’s often in bare legs or arms, which means any onlookers’ eyes have a chance to chill. (When cooler weather comes, opaque black tights are the best backdrop against OTT outfits, unless you feel confident enough to incorporate a patterned pair of stockings—that unlocks level 10 maximalist dressing, P.S.). Theodorsen’s cropped pinky-red hair also lends a laissez-faire attitude to every ensemble.
That’s definitely key: While maximalism might have once been about looking done-with-a-capital-D (think Vreeland’s saturated blush and crimson nail polish, and Apfel’s de rigueur red lippy), now there’s an air of easy breeziness to it. Exude much effort and you’ll look overwrought; and that’s the opposite effect you want here.
Curious to give it a try and live out loud this fall? Here are some of our favourite designers leading the nouveau maxinalism pack.
La Double J
For the ultimate in relaxed maximalism, look to Milan-based clothing and housewares label La Double J, which was founded by Wallpaper* magazine editor J.J. Martin; it boasts button-down blouses, draped trousers and bodysuits in an array of chipper prints. Martin is the brand’s best ambassador, wearing pieces with easygoing hair and hardly any makeup. Anyone with hang-ups about maximalism being “too much” should take heed—let the clothes and accessories do the talking and give your beauty routine some time off. You’ll look like you’re living la dolce vita in no time!
French chic might not be synonymous with maximalism—the aesthetic is often more associated with eccentric Italians and the forever-kooky English—but Pierre-Louis Mascia, the Toulouse-born illustrator who has a range of sumptuous apparel and scarves, challenges that idea. There’s a definite drama to his collection, which is given a fresh flavour thanks to subtle nods to athleisure throughout (dynamic prints splashed across drawstring pants, for example).
That’s another trick to new takes on maximalist looks—that the pieces are contemporary, not costume-y. Sure, a colourful kaftan might work for a dreamy beach vacation, but practical for the weekday hustle they are not. And just because you’ve decided to take a walk on the wild side doesn’t mean you want to feel uncomfortable, or like you’re playing dress up; those more accustomed to minimalism’s pared-down designs will rejoice at these understated options with a daring twist.
If you’ve ever felt trepidation about trying maximalism, an easy way to approach it is by wearing co-ordinating separates. Danish designer Julia Heuer’s artful pleated pieces often come in matching top and bottoms, taking the guess work out of what could be worn with what while you’re still getting acquainted with the idea that more is more.
Nigerian designer Kenneth Ize—who recently made a splash at Lagos Fashion Week by sending Naomi Campbell down the runway in one of his creations—has become known for eclectic knits featuring stripes and plaids; their complementary colourways mean you could wear them together and look put-together. Get comfortable with bolder combos this way before attempting clashing colours and prints.
Making an attempt at maximalism does require a surge of confidence, but you can still rely on a key aspect of minimalism to help you along: When wearing loud prints or colour-blocking your wardrobe, don accessories that have a slick, artistic look. Interesting materials like acrylic and tortoiseshell add a bit of oomph to an outfit but don’t overpower; sculptural metallic pieces are also understated but impactful. You’ll still look polished and savvy, but most importantly playful. And now you can play to win.
So what are you waiting for? Get your maximalist on with these bold beauts.
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