That third serving.
That same pair of pants in 5 different colors.
The marriage of paisley, stripes, and fur in one ensemble.
I am a maximalist at heart. If I can’t decide what to wear, I very often wear it all. While the ethos of minimalist style has tempered my ways, at the end of the day sometimes more is just more.
Often considered the style of excess, maximalist style steers away from clean and classic silhouettes and advocates for you to break the rules of style: mix multiple patterns, fuse vibrant colors and brazenly tinker with texture all in one ensemble.
At its best, this style can help you re-imagine your wardrobe and break ground into a disruptive new look without having to make a single purchase. And at its worst, it will make you look like a toddler who raided grandma’s closet with reckless abandon. But no risk, no reward. Let’s enter into the land of maximalist style re-imagined together with some rules of thumb to help your more stay more.
Maximizing Maximalist Style
One crucial component in maximalist style is fusing 2 or more prints or patterns together. I know it sounds daunting, but the steady practice of mixing patterns will expand how you see your wardrobe, opening the door to new styling possibilities. The key to mixing prints is all about balance. If you are choosing a loud and large patterned leopard print, bring balance by making your next print smaller - like polka dots. The contrast creates visual interest while not overloading the eyes.
Another component to maximalist style surrounds the pairing of 2 or more colors. The colors can be boisterous like neon yellows and orange, or they can be muted like blues and violets. The key to mastering the color wheel of maximalist style is to pull colors that are within similar color families. As long as they are part of the same family, you can have confidence that you have not entered the realm of grandma and her closet.
The final component of maximalist style is not for the faint of heart. It involves playing with texture: elements that will make your outfit jump off the page. Think of pleats, lace and tulle. I’ll experiment with texture in a few different looks and you tell me if I have pulled it off!
Look 1: Lace, Violet and Pearls
For this first look, I made the decision to stay within the slightly more muted blue-violet color family. I have deployed the magic of this lace BCBG dress as a base layer that provides both texture and pattern. Underneath, I have tinkered a bit with texture by adding a faux collar top that is adorned with pearls.
I think the pearls strike both the texture and pattern box as it creates visual interest while making the outfit feel like it jumps off the page. To wrap it all up, I use my red-violet blazer with a black lapel as my second and third pop of color. There is a lot happening in this ensemble, but the muted colors make the outfit seamless. If you are just dipping your toe into the waters of maximalism, I suggest playing with more muted color families and seeing the kind of magic you might be able to conjure.
Look 2: Going Big
In my humble but accurate opinion, this outfit is fire. No, literally - I am borrowing from the color family of fire by making orange and yellow my focus. The patterns that I have experimented with are a boisterous yellow and orange leopard wrap top mixed with a multi-tiered pattern of polka dots and paisley with my black duster. There is so much going on and I like every single second of it.
While both the patterns are the same size, the fact that my second pattern of paisley and polka dots sits on a muted black backdrop bends the rules but still creates visual interest without assaulting the eyes. Rather than use a simple orange maxi skirt, I opted for pleats to see how far I could push the needle forward without looking deranged. I would say “Operation success!”
My secret weapon in this outfit is my black duster. It is loud and punchy with paisley and polka dots, but the black backdrop weaves it all together. If you are wanting to go big but are not sure how big, make your outer layer a muted neutral and let your maximalist magic flow.
Look 3: The Maximalist Top
This top takes all the thinking work out of maximalist style as it blends colors and patterns without you having to lift a finger. It oozes vibrations of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air while looking like a colorful game of Tetris exploded onto a standard dress shirt. This top houses every color under the sun with a muted and sleek black backdrop.
Because there is so much going on with color and pattern, I wanted to tread lightly. I take a more conservative approach with a pair of dark jeans but slap on a bit of fun with some funky leopard booties. Multiple colors, multiple patterns and no crazy grandma in tow.
More Is More
Sometimes more is just more. While the imminent risk of looking like a crazed grandma is high, the reward of re-imagining and re-envisioning your style is even higher. Whether it’s color, texture, or pattern, maximalism has room for it all – jump into your closet and enjoy!