This season marked my first time traveling to Milan for fashion week. For five days I decamped from my Lower East Side apartment, swapping overpriced salads for fresh spaghetti and my tiny NYC closet for a single, hastily packed suitcase. And though I generally never understood the idea of culture shock, this trip did me in — sartorially, at least. In Italy, what became immediately apparent is that residents think about style differently. Maximalist fashion prevails, and there's no shame about the fact that residents take dressing up very seriously. Men sport sharp suits, and women easily embrace all colors and prints and voluminous silhouettes. Meanwhile, I'd arrived in town wearing black leggings and a sweatshirt (though give me a little slack, I was coming off a red-eye).
Upon arriving in Milan, I had two short hours before I was off to my first show of the week, Marni. I navigated the city's metro, fumbling to figure out how to pay for a ticket, but finally I traipsed up the stairs and walked around the corner to the show. Outside, I was engulfed by street style melee, editors and influencers posing on the cobbled roadways, and I couldn't help but notice the mastery of maximalism that ran abound.
As someone who sticks to a relatively streamlined wardrobe, it was inspiring to see women mixing (and not matching) colors and prints with wild abandon. So much so that a few days criss-crossing Milan had me beginning to embrace that way of dressing, too. Where in the past I might have deemed leopard print busy enough all on its own, I was now considering it alongside neon yellows, bold florals, and lots of other unusual partners. (The photo below best illustrates my embrace: It's how I dressed during my last day in town.)
Inspired by the all-out way of dressing I saw in Milan, I've made an effort to spice things up now that I'm back on New York soil. Below are four guidelines I've stuck by to help me embrace a maximalist way of dressing without feeling like I've strayed into costume territory. Turns out, I came out of my trip with more than just memories of wine and gelato.
Combining the season's top trends is all about confidence. It may not seem like snakeskin and neon would work together, but you can make it work by finding silhouettes that compliment one another and feel true to your personal style.
For a more understated take on maximalism, try playing with proportions and volume. A wide leg trouser and an oversized coat might not be two pieces you'd expect to wear together, but they work surprisingly well.
A reformed minimalist, I now firmly stand by the idea that more is more is more. Mixing prints in clashing colors may feel just plain wrong the first time you try it. But, I find that if you make your clashing purposeful, opting for prints that coordinate but feel completely different (like the dueling yellows, above) or colors that play off of each other, the result is surprisingly seamless.
Lots of Layering
A simple way to embrace maximalism is to find creative ways to pile on the layers. Sheer pieces are a simple way to add texture and differentiation. Similarly, playing with styles of different lengths helps you to pack on as much as possible.