I was fortunate enough to grow up with a mother who let me dress myself, a privilege I’m aware not all children had. Already a young maximalist at heart, having the go-ahead to let my imagination run wild made getting dressed a celebration. I became addicted to the liberating sensation of straying from the sartorial status quo, even going so far as to integrate Halloween costumes into everyday wear. (There was a period in second grade where my spiked Party City combat boots became part of my daily uniform). Rain or shine, spring or fall — I’d wear my maximalist outfits and revel in the sense of peace that came with the chaos of my personal style.
Fast forward to the present, and my aesthetic hasn’t once wavered. I’m still partial to unexpected color clashes and a dramatic style moment makes my heart sing. I continue to gravitate toward clothing that wallops you over the head with its personality, with my ultimate favorite being when items are just a little bit ugly. (Take, for example, the vintage rattan bag embellished with gaudy beaded butterflies my friend gifted me because it “was so [me] it hurt.” It’s now one of my prized possessions.)
So, you can imagine when minimalism — the aesthetic that’s reigned throughout fashion for decades — was usurped by its antithesis for summer 2021, I was overjoyed. Prints began to resemble the contents of fruit bowls, and unnecessary but oh-so-fun accessories like ornamental belts and micro-mini bags became must-buy essentials. Street style connoisseurs retired their traditional all-black garb and transformed New York City’s sidewalks into painterly canvases of vibrant yellows and neon pinks.
I’ve been grateful to bask in the warmth that is wide-spread, unconventional fashion for the past few months. But now, as summer makes its inevitable departure, I can’t help but fear it will take maximalism with it. Will people retire their newfound fondness for wearable drama once the leaves change and the temperatures plunge? Was summer’s maximalist trend merely just that: an ephemeral fad that rose to supremacy due to the carefree vibe that comes with warm weather, but won’t last during the colder months? Well, I’ve waited far too long for excessive fashion to become the norm, and I plan to continue summer’s maximalist momentum any way I can.
Ahead, here’s how I plan to carry on summer 2021’s historic eccentric spirit throughout the upcoming season.
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Bold Cowboy Boots
My love for the western-inspired shoe blossomed once I found the perfect pair, which I have since dubbed, The Boots. Our meet-cute was a simple one; two years ago I was scrolling through Depop when a pair of silver, square-toe cowboy boots popped up on my feed. My heart did a two-step. Invigorated with the spirit of what I can best describe as a space cowgirl with nothing to lose, I grabbed my debit card and pressed “buy” without thinking twice. Call it what you want — fate, luck, or Depop’s finely-tuned algorithm — but I firmly believe The Boots were put on my feed for a reason, and now they’re one of the most cherished items in my wardrobe. This fall, I plan to pair them with silky slip dresses and pin-stripe trousers and prance around the city with Kacey Musgraves blasting on my AirPods.
Knitwear That Makes You Smile
Knitwear is, of course, an obvious fall staple. But when done in an exciting print or cheeky color, it can harken back to summer’s optimism. Above, I wave at you while wearing a House of Sunny cardigan that puts a smile on my face every time I catch a glance of it hanging in my closet.
Holiday the Label’s new knitwear collection, which essentially doubles as a placebo for sunshine and sandy beaches, is also a source to turn to for sweaters that’ll make you grin. I reached out to Emma Mulholland, the founder of the fashion-girl fave known for its trending prints, to get her insight. Her biggest tip for channeling a summertime spirit regardless of what the calendar says? Turn to bright hues and graphics. “Colors and prints can emote a lot of nostalgia which I love to have throughout my collections. If I’m having a bad day, I always like to wear something bright and cheerful.” Mulholland shares my hope that maximalism sticks around and, luckily, doesn’t foresee a future where it fades away. “I don’t think the maximalist trend will go anywhere for a while,” she assures me. “I think people have been pretty bored and uninspired over the past couple of years, so now they want to dress with a little more joy and excitement.”
I wore blue and white marble-printed tights to school one day during the eighth grade, and my science teacher yelled to me down the hallway, “Oh, are those tights? I thought you had tattoos all over your legs! Hah!” To an adolescent girl with social anxiety, this was a catastrophic thing to say within earshot of my entire class. Despite this mildly traumatic incident, statement tights have remained one of my preferred methods of zhuzhing up a cold-weather look. Pair with a mini skirt and a statement shoe for an impactful look, or, if you’re feeling extra daring, turn your tights into pants by pairing them with a top in an oversized silhouette (as I did above with my magenta pair from Wolford). If you’re like me in that your ideal Thursday night consists of drinking a gin and tonic and flirting with the Ashley Williams tight selection, try a pair from the kitschy London designer.
An Unconventional Color Clash
Fashion influencer and maximalist guru Chloë Felopulos has a more abstract definition of the extravagant aesthetic I’m oh-so fond of. “Maximalism means finding peace in chaos, satisfaction in excess, and home in an area outside of the box,” she tells me. In my opinion, no look better reflects Felopulos’ concept than an outfit that utilizes a color combination traditionally viewed as a no-no. Red and pink, black and brown — too many hues have been told they don’t belong together and I find that to be unfair. It’s time to abolish the fashion police in your head and unleash your closet’s color-clashing potential. Plus, shirking any sort of tradition feels essential to the maximalist vibe, so pairing unconventional colors together is an easy way to tap into a bit of playful anarchy. Get the look by layering a vibrant mesh top underneath another item, or snag a garment that does the clashing for you — like Staud’s half-pink, half-red knit dress.
A One-Of-A-Kind Blouse
To me, there’s no greater rush than snagging a one-of-a-kind item and realizing you’re the only person in the world to have it in your collection. And by and large, I’m drawn to idiosyncratic blouses that are either thrifted or made to order. I mostly blame this desire to be individualistic on my Leo sun. Still, over the years, I’ve come to realize hunting down unique garments makes for an insightful exercise in connecting with my personal style, which, in my book, I always find to be a rewarding and worthwhile experience. Above, I paired my tie-dyed, up-cycled wedding dress blouse from For Good Luck with a pair of magenta biker shorts. This outfit feels perfectly in sync with my style, and it also makes me laugh because I’m certainly not headed to a spin class dressed like this.