Fashion is not what it used to be back in the day, when the elite went to posh, local ateliers for customized gowns and ordinary people made their own. The modern way of getting dressed is quick, mass produced and never saturated—nor satisfied. How can the minimalist cope in this environment? Let’s talk about how NOT to be in fashion.
A fashion or trend is historically defined as a codified rule about garments and combinations of them into looks (Craik, 2009). Just like back then, any eminent person today holds the power to change the way we like our clothes. The following-the-herd aspect isn’t particularly new either. Already during the late Renaissance—when the Spanish reign was having a moment, the entire French court was quick to swap their trumpet-shaped sleeves for a narrower, Spanish version, to flaunt their prosperity. Call it a fad, a fashion, a fling, rage, mania or even a fetish, but dress is a social custom, and we all tend to move with its speed.
The challenge is real for the minimalist, who likes to keep things simple with a carefully picked capsule wardrobe and a limited set of colors, shapes, and materials. The industry as-is embraces Fast fashion—a term that was coined by The New York Times in 1989. This system shapes our purchases to be quick, cheap, low-quality, and trendy. Its fuel is peer pressure and our ever-increasing need for novelty. From a creative perspective, it does great things for the industry. We’ve arrived at the stage where nothing is weird, everything is acceptable. Pink hair, fanny pack, biker shorts and platform sneakers is now a look. Fantastic, it’s just that the world will cease to exist when we keep going like this.
Pity for the environment—minimalism receives less encouragement than fast fashion. Why? Because simplicity doesn’t thrive on likes and shares, but on long-lasting taste and self-confidence. Algorithms like the fastness of fads and buzz, and society goes where the money flows. Therefore, what used to classify as classy, chic, modern or even “style”, is now basic.
Parka goes puffer, mono turns logo. How can we stay sane with all these constantly renewing fashion trends? Acknowledging the socialness of fashion, the best motivation to not partake in trends (and feel OK with it) might be to actively follow the right examples that is, minimalist style icons. No matter if it’s a friend, celeb or brand, their commitment to consist classic styles can endorse your own efforts. Take the looks of Edie Sedgwick, Grace Kelly or Cary Grant—effortless, easy, ready-to-flaunt in both the vintage as modern version of Hollywood.
The social pressure of not being fashionable is present, but the same force can be a vehicle towards a transgenerational approach to classic dress. Choose your icons first, then learn from those you want to look like. Add a little bit of ignorance towards the hyping media and you will find yourself in a place of peace, on the sidelines of a restless fashion industry. After all, relaxation and confidence are the classiest costumes to wear.
The world urgently needs to reconnect to the meaning of less is more, as it was once introduced in a poem by Robert Browning:
Who strive—you don't know how the others strive
To paint a little thing like that you smeared
Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,-
Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
(I know his name, no matter) - so much less!
Well, less is more, Lucrezia.