I'M A MAXIMALIST, BUT I STUCK TO A VERY SIMPLE CAPSULE WARDROBE THIS JANUARY
I was wearing a feathered tank, velvet flares and seven different variations of chunky ring when Who What Wear’s Hannah approached me with a challenge – to sartorially strip things back for a week, and document my journey.
‘A maximalist, moi?’ I exclaimed. My partner guffawed, his eyes scanning my many shelves of bags, shoes and general frippery. ‘OK, so maybe I am partial to an accessory (or five),’ I conceded. ‘But how hard can this be?’ I simply needed to edit my wardrobe down to a few well-chosen pieces. And let’s face it; I was hardly devoid of choice.
As I prepared a rail of monochrome separates, the reality of a week without colour, print or sequins dawned upon me. I eyed up my newly edited ‘capsule wardrobe’, including an oversized white shirt, cropped leather flares and a couple of pairs of simple gold hoops. I already owned – and loved – each of these pieces. The only difference was, they were usually accompanied by pink mohair, leopard print and/or a garishly logo-laden accessory. ‘Less is more,’ I chanted, through gritted teeth.
Zara dress; Dr Martens boots; Theodora Warre earrings
Armed with an old-favourite Zara maxi, I was off to a flying start – and not a ruffle or sequin in sight. This knitted dress is the perfect throw-on piece, toughened up by a pair of platform boots. I usually wear this with a big fuzzy coat and a statement backpack, but, in the name of minimalism, I accessorised only with a pair of simple gold hoops.
Vintage jacket; Topshop T-shirt; H&M trousers, Converse hi-tops; Theodora Warre earrings
The white-tee-and-leather-jacket combo may seem like a no-brainer to some, but this outfit felt most out of my comfort zone – perhaps because my usual instinct is to add a hair clip or accessory (I have a huge vintage Japanese tulip brooch that would have looked super cool). Instead, my pop of colour came in the form of MAC’s Lady Danger lipstick. I am the master of restraint, clearly.
H&M knit; Zara trousers; Dr Martens boots; Arket earrings; Prada bag
I love an all-black look, so this outfit came easily to me. I own two pairs of these Zara faux leather trousers because I’m terrified of ever being without them, which isn’t a very minimalist thing to say. Head-to-toe black requires a bit of textural interest – cue a fuzzy knit. I cheated a bit with this Prada bag (a Bicester village find from years ago) and a very OTT Saks Potts coat. Once a maximalist, always a maximalist?
Arket shirt; & Other Stories polo neck; Zara trousers; Gucci loafers; Topshop trench coat; vintage Louis Vuitton bag; Arket earrings
By day four, I was dreaming of statement coats and prairie dresses. ‘Stay strong,’ I muttered, as I donned this monochrome look. I felt very grown-up – a decided departure from my usual style. For running errands, I threw on an oversized trench coat and my teeny vintage LV (which I recently hunted down at a bargain price). Though this outfit made me realise the wonder of layering a polo neck beneath a shirt, I’m not sure I’m serious enough to wear this combination again.
Vintage jacket; Topshop bodysuit; Reserved trousers; vintage belt; vintage hair bow; Miu Miu boots; vintage bag; Arket earrings
I broke the rules of the challenge most spectacularly for a trip to the ballet, accessorising with not one but two bows. Oops. Otherwise, I tried to stick to a simple silhouette in all-black and I even removed the trousers’ detachable marabou hem – does this mean I’m a changed woman? I also rediscovered these old Miu Miu boots – I love the peep of patent toe against the velvet trews.
H&M knit; Zara trousers; Chanel bag; Marks & Spencer boots; Arket earrings
By day six, I was tired of my monochrome uniform and furiously looking up ‘minimalist style’ on Pinterest for inspiration. After scrolling through lots of photos of neutral-hued knits and classic blue denim, I decided to style my own version, swapping out jeans for some slouchy cargo pants for a little pizzazz. I hovered over a pair of silver boots before sadly resigning myself to a plain black pair. My partner, who often finds my maximalist style perplexing, loved this look. Me, not so much. I’d definitely prefer it with a metallic accessory or patterned gilet…
Arket shirt; handmade vest (pattern by Delilah Designs Knits); Topshop jeans; Prada loafers
Perhaps seven days of pared-back style changed my brain chemistry, but I’m kind of obsessed with this look – if I do say so myself. It involves my beloved Prada loafers (a wonderfully cartoonish take on a perennial classic), a little grey vest I knitted and my new favourite jeans – the Topshop Kort. There’s something about the exaggerated proportions of the shoes and jeans, and the shrunken fit of the vest, that makes my fashion-loving heart sing.
Having completed seven days of minimalist (ish) outfits, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to shimmy back into my clashing prints and pie-crust collars, or that I reduced my entire wardrobe to 15 items and swore off sequins forever. While I appreciate minimalist style on others – as well as the value of a capsule wardrobe – I’m too sartorially neurotic to rely on a rotation of simple separates.
I was, however, inspired to do an epic wardrobe clear-out, donating nine huge bags of clothes to my local charity shop. And on my last visit to my favourite vintage market, I found myself seeking out those classic, keep-forever garments, rather than the sparkly dresses, cottage-core blouses and over-the-top jackets I usually gravitate towards.
I ought to disclaim that as I write this conclusion, I am wearing a very loved Marc by Marc Jacobs tee I snaffled at the opening of the first ever London store, a Mondrian-inspired cardigan, some Adidas tracksuit bottoms which my partner refers to as my ‘Squid Game’ trousers and my beloved silver boots. What can I say, the heart wants what the heart wants – and this one wants colours and sequins and ruffles.