Credit to Steph Wilson on Unsplash

Return to the max-imalism

By Rhea Abraham

Flower power, funky furs, and flamboyant flares – maximalism is back.

Within the fashion world exists a pendulum. Every few decades or so this pendulum swings from one side to the other from “less is more” to “more is more,” and vice versa. The push and pull of minimalism and maximalism has often been a reflection of the socio-political values and economic climate of the period. The rising hemlines and simple, short hairstyles of the 1920s reflected a larger symbolic shift towards independence and political mobility, while the 60’s and 70’s signaled a return to maximalism with flower power florals and psychedelic patterns accompanying a wave of free love, second wave feminism, and plenty of LSD.

This year we’ve seen a flamboyant return to maximalism popularised by TikTok. While the first years of fashion this decade were stunted by the pandemic and its resulting lockdown, the lifting of covid restrictions around the world has meant a slow but sure return to normal pre-pandemic social life. Due to this, many fashion TikTokers have grown bored of their minimalistic capsule wardrobes and opted for a change. 2022 has done away with our days of athleisure, shapewear, and tan sweatsuits and brought back the excitement of putting together extravagant outfits for casual daily outings.

I’m not sure about you, but I’m glad to see an increased acceptance of self-expressive outfits. However, some concerns have been raised about what the cultivation of fashion maximalism looks like for the climate crisis. While capsule closets have been criticised for monotony and the initial high expense of buying a collection of high quality pieces, there’s no doubt that long term adoption of these wardrobes have reduced excess consumption.

Maximalism rejects this kind of wardrobe and embraces the “more is more” belief, embracing large collections of accessories, clothing, and footwear. This brings me to wonder, can we really dress maximally while also living sustainably? The answer to this question may come from Canadian Instagram and TikTok stylist Sara Camposarcone (@saracampz on TikTok), titled the “Queen of Maximalism” by Harper’s Bazaar. Most viewed on TikTok are her “get ready with me” videos which allow followers to watch her as she creates her daily outfits. Her outfits are known for chunky layered jewellery, colourful scarves, and petticoats paired with baggy jeans. Though her closet is abundant, she teaches followers how she maintains her style sustainably. Sara recommends building a maximalist collection by thrifting or buying from ethical and zero waste brands. Another tip she likes to practice is asking herself, “can I style this more than 10 ways?” before she buys a new piece.

Though Sara Camposarcone and other fashion maximalists on TikTok have received lots of positive attention, they have also received a slew of internet trolls and rude commenters, calling her style comical or plainly, “bad taste”. I find the concept of good taste interesting to question. Who or what defines good taste? I think that good taste doesn’t have boundaries per se. Sure, there are certain colours that when worn together look aesthetically pleasing, or classic outfits that will never go out of style, like the iconic little black dress. But when it comes to boundaries, I think that the only rules that matter are those that ensure fashion stays sustainable, inclusive, and makes people feel fabulous in their bodies.

We’ve seen the fashion community picking up on this idea in recent years with people like Sara Camparsarcone adhering less to one specific style, but instead combining multiple different aesthetics or switching between defined styles to fit whichever version of themselves they would like to express. Fashion maximalism is a great way to do this. As for sustainability, it’s probably more important to start with addressing the dangerous practices of fast fashion brands than to criticise individuals investing in some neon pink platform boots.

If fashion trends are a reflection of current societal values, then the pendulum’s return to maximalism should give us hope for our generation as we see a celebration of diverse expression being revealed in what we wear. If fashion culture wants to tell us once again that more is more, let’s listen.


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