Minimalism is Boring: 3 Maximalist Approaches to Spring Dressing

Leandra Medine | April 14, 2017

I will always choose to add another layer

It has taken me a long time to verbalize what I truly am: a maximalist. I mean this in every sense of the word. When it comes to dressing, I will always choose to add another layer or bracelet. My idea of a beautiful photo involves a stuffed trashcan toppled over in the middle of a busy intersection, and emotionally speaking, I reject steadiness, objectivity and lukewarmness with the conviction of a piranha seeking prey.

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to realize this, but I’m just going to say it: I hate minimalism. Overcrowding gives me comfort. Dizzying portraits, both physical and not, collapsed over one another, make me feel understood. I will take blistered feet if it means that my shoes are equal parts quizzical and ridiculous.

This tendency towards maximalism should not be confused with an embrace of the gimmicky, or a plea to collect more. I am not a fan of anything too “on the nose” — hyper-literal prints, or T-shirts that leave no room to the imagination. And I still yearn for peace of mind, for that mental quiet everyone is always referring to. I am impressionable and willing to make a case for whatever lifestyle trend is wont to burgeon (see: feng shui, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the interiors at Celine boutiques, a simple pair of no-frill jeans!). So where does this leave me? Can I have both — the noise and the quiet; the jeans and the neons? Here are three outfits born out of the totems of a minimalist wardrobe — a solid dress, jeans and a T-shirt, and a button-down and Spanx — that suggest yes.

Outfit 1 Before: A plain white dress

Maximalist Looks for Spring April 2017 Man Repeller18

Khaite dress, Dior flats

Outfit 1 After: A top and pants

Maximalist Looks for Spring April 2017 Man Repeller10

If before I looked like a nice woman with good intentions who showers regularly and tends not to speak out of line, post-styling, I feel more like myself with loud necklaces (they jingle) and a pair of Croakies over feckless sunglasses and orange pants under a dress that make it a top. The kind of outfit that has no place anywhere and therefore works everywhere.

Rosie Assoulin pants, Carolina Bucci necklaces, Lucy Folk Croakies and Krewe sunglasses

Outfit 2 Before: Jeans and a T-shirt

Maximalist Looks for Spring April 2017 Man Repeller17

And my nipples! Monogram T-shirt, Vetements jeans, Dior flats

Outfit 2 After: Broadway boardroom meets pole dancing class held in a field in Calistoga at a retreat for former fashion editors

Maximalist Looks for Spring April 2017 Man Repeller2

Fran Drescher pink is poised to eclipse millennial pink, but more on that later.

Natasha Zinko blazer, yellow brooch from Amazon ($13), blue brooch by Gucci ($450) <– Remarkable, no?, Orseund bustier, Miu Miu sandals  

Outfit 3 Before: A simple button-down shirt and Spanx

Maximalist Looks for Spring April 2017 Man Repeller19

Granted you might not wear this without pants or a skirt or a dress over the Spanx, but I challenge that with this: Why?

J.Crew button-down, Spanx shorts, Chanel sandals

Outfit 3 After: Stephanie Tanner meets Loulou de la Falaise, buys some bangles from Iris Apfel’s One Kings Lane edit and almost calls it a day before realizing her socks don’t have toes.

Maximalist Man Repeller 2

Boyy bagAurélie Bidermann necklace, Lizzie Fortunado earrings, Rosie Assoulin x Morgenthal Frederics sunglasses, Versace headscarf via TheRealReal, bangles and bracelets by Kate Spade and Aurélie Bidermann 

And with this, I rest my case and probably go to yoga.

Photos by Edith Young.

  • Charlotte

    The last outfit really reminds me of the looks you wore in the early stages of ManRepeller!

  • Martyna

    LEANDRA <3 You make me happy.

  • Catie

    Love these photos and outfits!!

    (Sidenote: Where’s KRISTA!?!?!?)

    • Leandra Medine

      She no longer works at Man Repeller, but you can still feel her glow through her Instagram!

  • Natali

    Oh yes, I’m all about maximising your outfits and totally playing with as many colors and accessories as your heart likes! 🙂
    Your first outfit combo is one for the books! WOW!

    http://lartoffashion.com

  • Mary | O Blog da Mary

    I LOVE minimalism, always raving about it, but this year – and spring especially – it’s just not cutting it!
    Love your suggestions!
    https://oblogdamary.wordpress.com/

  • Kay Nguyen

    I need that Khaite dress in my life! Beautiful outfits as well <3

    https://www.myblackcloset.com/

  • I need that Khaite dress. but this year – and spring especially – it’s just not cutting it!
    http://www.gvtjob.com

  • Suzan

    Ahhh that Khaite dress again… It is so good!
    For people (myself included) who are looking for a more affordable version, I thought this number from Mango comes sorta close stylewise: http://shop.mango.com/US/p0/women/committed-collection/jurk?id=81095614_01&n=1&s=committed_collection_she&ident=0__0_1492095715962&ts=1492095434702

    P.s. Even though I tend to be more on the minimalistic side as described in this article, I absolutely love looking at these transformations and your artful layering, Leandra!

  • I wrote a similar article on my blog about a year ago and I stand true to this statement..maximalizm overrides minimalizm any day (and yes I did mean to spell them with z’s- “equal parts quizzical and ridiculous!”)

  • Rheanonn Perez

    the minimalist outfits look nice, but the maximalist “afters” are more interesting & ~LEANDRA~!!! i love it. u seriously went 0-100. maybe 1000.

    frheak.net

  • Cristina

    100% agree that the maximalist outfits are so “you”. When I saw the title photo and it was just the white dress, I was like “What’s going on here?!” Lol. I think we can all just skip the labels and wear what makes us feel good. Sure, I love full-face makeup for a night out, but I FEEL GREAT and my best with a fresh face, some mascara and blush. I prefer a t-shirt and jeans to anything fancy and that’s when I feel myself. If you feel yourself always dressed to the nines, then VIVA LA NINES! Also, the minimalist “trend” was really started to get people to buy less stuff, but when they do buy something, it has to be HELLA expensive and also meet an Instagram aesthetic or it doesn’t count. So basic.

  • 20 oz filet

    This is why i have visited this site routinely since its inception ! That styling is so on point!!!!

  • Basil

    I’ve just gone back into the past to read your Spain holiday packing article (love a good packing article) and see here that the orange pants and Gucci brooch have all made another appearance! So inspiring

  • Pandora Sykes

    You love the expression “on the nose” (fact)

  • Eleanor

    Where are the third outfit shoes from?

    • Leandra Medine

      They are chanel

  • jiggahava

    Team Maximalism here. I find a plain white teeth and jeans unbearably boring, and I always feel the need to add outrageous heels or a statement jacket to jazz it up, so I feel more “me”.

  • Hellbetty666

    I remember reading that famous Coco Chanel quote years ago (“before you leave the house, take one thing off”) and it made me realise, before I leave the house, I run round adding extra things (every time). It was at that point I said farewell to my dream of ever being an elegant, chic lady.

    I now look like your granny’s haunted attic has vomited up all over a roadie from the 1970s. And I’m okay with that!

  • These street style that I love, It looks nice and attractive

  • I embrace the maximalism when I am doing my face curating.

  • Christelle

    Yes. Please. Thank you. Come again.

    – A first hour fan, advocate and sect member

  • M.a.s.r.

    There is a possibility that this qualifies as my favorite MR story/editorial of all time !! Kind of reminded me of the “Are You A Highly Sensitive Person” story because I loathe the feeling of bracelets or any sort of layered jewelry or too many fussy clothing layers, but LOvE dressing myself in that manner. I get my freak on with accessories and layers and end up stripping them off one by one like a cranky toddler in a stroller who leaves a bread crumb trail of headbands, hair clips, socks, and shoes trailing behind.

  • Maria

    Love all of these outfits, maximalism is so much more interesting and is totally having a comeback right now!!!!

    http://www.mariabustosthon.com

  • “Overcrowding gives me comfort” !! I’m LIVING for this. Let’s embrace the noise & the quiet this season because we can!

    http://www.outfitsandobservations.com

  • Kattigans

    @LeandraMedine:disqus I bought the indigo dyed J.Crew shirt because of this post and lemme tell you WOW! I love it. For a men’s shirt the fit is superb. Fits me better than most women’s button’s ups. I may be upping my button up game to j.crew men’s shirts only.