In defense of minimalist fashion

street style minimalism

For years, minimalism has dominated the fashion scene. The seemingly simple way to pick an outfit was inspired by the way the world’s most successful people seem to dress themselves. Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg always chose a simple knit on jeans, while fashions own Grace Coddington or Dries van Noten seem to favour black as the primary color of their outfits. Their minimalist style opened the eyes of many, and quickly it was adapted by fashion’s most stylish influencers.

minimalism streetstyle

minimalism street style sam rollinson

The root of this ‘no nonsense’ style was laid in the 1960s in New York. Minimalism back then was a way for artists to oppose the expressionist style that dominated the art scene. By focusing on the use of materials and the construction instead of expression, extreme simplicity could be attained. Soon minimalism also entered the fashion world. Pioneered by the Japanese designers of Comme des Garcons in the eighties, erasing the unnecessary details from clothing items was a way of eliminating needless worries when choosing an outfit in the morning. Muted colors and few embellishments seemed the way to go.

Soon this minimalism made its way across Europe and North-America when Calvin Klein and Jil Sander began designing simple and timeless pieces. A more contemporary perspective on minimalism was shown by Phoebe Philo for Céline and immediately loved by the audience, especially by Scandinavian fashion lovers. This soon led to the increasing accessibility of minimalist pieces. Multinational H&M founded their minimalist branch COS in 2007 to market to men and women looking for timeless design and clean silhouettes.

minimalism comme des garcons ss91

minimalism calvin klein fw97

A criticism often expressed about minimalism, is that it looks boring because of the lack of bright colors and prints or bold textures. But never have they been more mistaken. The interesting part of minimalism isn’t necessary in the colors (although an all black outfit often looks very mysterious and interesting), but in the shapes and the materials. A grey sweater might seem plain from far away, but upclose, the details in the cut and the construction of the garment often constitute strong, interesting shapes. Minimalism isn’t about color as a way of standing out, it rather emphasises interesting shapes and structures in outfits.

minimalism street style jessica diehl

street style minimalism

Another major plus of a minimalist or capsule wardrobe, is the absence of decision stress. Imagine waking up in the morning without having to worry about the outfit you’re going to wear. Besides, out of a wardrobe that only contains the items you love the most, will only come forth the outfits that you love the most. Eliminating the nonessential items will only guide your attention more towards your most coveted timeless, high-quality items. And an easy outfit that’s built out of your favorite items, will instantly boost your mood and performance. How else would Steve Jobs or Grace Coddington have become so succesful?

Photos: 1, 2, 5, 6: Phil Oh for Vogue; 3,4: Condé Nast Archive