Making The Case For An Anti-Minimalist Spring Wardrobe

Tawni Bannister

Fashion is so often about rules — what you can wear to work (below the knee, beige and black), what you should be buying (according to Instagram, that’s high-rise jeans and bucket hats) — but what sets you apart are the ways in which you choose to bend, twist, and break the tenets placed before you. When minimalism was the palette du jour in recent years, that meant adding a structured trench, layering on dainty gold stackers, or tucking your crisp white button-down into your skinny jeans. But over the past 12 months, more eclectic expressionism has eclipsed the minimalist aesthetic. In 2019, the continued rise of maximalism means embracing how to dress more boldly. Start by refreshing your wardrobe with more colors and prints than ever before.

There's no runway designer that embodies the idea of maximalism like Gucci's Alessandro Michele. When he began his tenure as the iconic brand's Creative Director in January 2015, he sparked a new eclecticism that instantly resonated with his customers with sales growth continuing to beat expectations year after year. Michele's freewheeling and lighthearted approach was the challenge that ultimately interrupted the reign of minimalists like Céline. There’s still a hoard of loyal Phoebe Philo devotees, but even the staunchest followers have loosened up to a more playful aesthetic. Though he led the charge, Michele is by no means the only designer to embrace a more emboldened way of dressing: Indie designers like Marine Serre and MSGM, as well as iconic houses like Louis Vuitton and Oscar de la Renta have found ways to bring a new sense of boldness into their respective collections.

On Bola: MSGM Shirt, Pants, and Jacket; Giuseppe Zanotti Heels; Clyde Scarf; Eric Javits Hat.

Traditionally, spring fashion centers on seasonal staples: floaty dresses, strappy sandals, and laid-back denim. But spring also means new beginnings, a time when color floods back into the world, making it the ideal moment to embrace a new way of dressing. A floral suit made of three separate but coordinated pieces, an unapologetic pink lip, and the coordinated blues of a scarf and hat — the combination might strike fear into the heart of a staunch minimalist, but there's no denying the joy that arises when you succumb to something not quite so serious.

It's easy to credit Instagram with opening a door and allowing creatives of the modern era to not only express themselves freely, but to a wider audience than ever before. Voluminous, statement-making sleeves are one trend that can squarely be traced back to Instagram. First there was the Maison Cléo top that swept social media in 2017, and now brands from Valentino to Ulla Johnson have reimagined the classic high-volume silhouette in eye-catching graphic prints and sorbet hues. With the resurgence of '80s-inspired fashion, you can easily lean into these retro-futuristic designs.

On Katy: PH5 Top; Versace Skirt; Linder Coat; Versace Shoes; SVNR earring.

While experimentation like, say, a swipe of cobalt liner or triple-mixed prints can read youthful, there’s also a comfort and assuredness that will allow for a more relaxed form of creativity. Clash not to see what happens, but with the sure knowledge that opposition works. By pairing the quirky-cool aesthetic of up-and-coming brands like Linder or PH5 alongside the long-lauded flash of Versace here, it lends an air of I-know-what-I’m-doing conviction.

On Bola: Derek Lam Top, Skirt, Pants, and Jacket; Monolo Blahnik Shoes; Petit Kouraj Bag; SVNR Earrings. On Katy: Kenzo Dress and Top; Charles + Keith Shoes; Alexis Bittar Cuffs; Mary Macgill Earrings.

Part of the appeal of this more eclectic aesthetic is the fact that there’s room to experiment and embrace the emotional connection to what you wear. Allowing yourself the freedom to wear the colors and prints that inspire you can create a sense of excitement not usually associated with the ways you may dress for a day at your desk.

On Katy: Beaufille Dress; Barrie Sweater; Daniella Shevel Boots; Alexis Bittar Earrings.

Still, embracing the bold doesn’t mean eschewing practical dressing all together. Instead, take a moment to imagine what happens when you start to paint outside the lines that constitute your outfit routines. Cherry-pick pieces that tell a color story when you unceremoniously stick them together: Because yellows make you happy; checkers remind you of your childhood summers on the cape; heels inspire a sense of power. There’s an inherent emotional drive behind much of what you buy and wear, and to embrace that idea allows you to look in the mirror and see more than just your body enrobed in denim, cotton, or silk.

On Bola: Adeam blouse and pants; Santoni sandals; Roxanne Assoulin Earrings; Wing and Weft Gloves.

What does color feel like? Synesthesia, the neurological condition in which the brain connects unexpected sensations, leads some to taste the color blue as light and crisp, like fruit fresh off the tree. Burnt orange elicits an instant warmth.

On Bola: Pleats Please by Issey Miyake Top and Skirt; Manolo Blahnik Shoes; Lizzie Fortunato Cuffs; Fendi Bag; Eric Javits Hat. On Katy: Arthur Arbesser Top, Pants, and Jacket; Staud Shoes.

But, even for those without such visceral perception, it’s through an entirely unique lens that you view the world. You don’t have to be a self-declared maximalist to leverage the trend in your own closet. Instead, think of it more as an opportunity to embrace your ability to tell a story with what you put on.

On Katy: Collina Strada Top; Altuzarra Dress.

For 2019, "be bold" takes a new shape. It's a call to action, a cry to step away from the screen, away from your saved folders and to find a fresh serving of creative energy from that which you experience IRL. Painterly prints were a standout choice on the runways, and serve as a creative alternative to the typical ditzy florals that dominate this time of year. A sweeping brush stroke, or swirl of colors are a literal translation of energy leaping off the page and into your dress.

On Bola: Jil Sander Pants and Jacket; Ellery Dress; Giuseppe Zanotti Heels; 3.1 Phillip Lim Hat. On Katy: 3.1 Phillip Lim Bodysuit and Skirt; Versace Heels; Lizzie Fortunato Earrings and Cuffs; Wing and Weft Gloves.

Now, as you navigate your way through the myriad spring trends, keep in mind that when you infuse your wardrobe with those neon greens, the retro florals, and maybe even a pair of mesh gloves, should you choose to be so bold, that your approach to dressing (and shopping) should always center around one question. What do you feel when you put something on?

Opening Looks:

On Bola: Versace Top; Marina Moscone Jacket and Pants; Clyde Hat; MSGM Heels; SVNR Earring.

On Katy: Jil Sander Top and Skirt; Salvatore Ferragamo Coat; MSGM Shoes; SVNR Earring; Valentino Bag.

Director: Tawni Bannister | DP/Editor: Emily Kordovich | Model: Katy Ching/Wilhelmina and Bola Edun/Elite | Stylist: Mecca James-Williams | Hair: Helen Reavey at Management + Artists using Act + Acre | Makeup: Jaleesa Jaikaran at Management + Artists using Makeup Forever | Editor: Aemilia Madden | Fashion Assistant: Ryan C. Gale | Art Director: Becky Brown | Junior Art Director: Shanelle Infante | Bookings Manager: Guillermo Perez | Photo Editor: Clare Thigpen | Music: Majid Bekkas