What do you get when you take away all the flash and clutter from your wardrobe? A minimal trend that allows for ease and elegance of the purest sartorial form
There’s a rumour currently circulating the fashion industry that Covid has killed seasonal trends once and for all. While that might be partly true – SS22 was a chaotic mix of varying takes on what the post-pandemic world wants right now – there’s one thing that’s certain: across the board, colour palettes were split between two distinct themes. There were the throw-everything-at-it maximalists in the red corner (think Alessandro Michele at Gucci and Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga), and those rejecting the clamour of clashing prints with a more contemplative approach to dressing in, not the blue corner, but the white corner.
Worn head-to-toe, whites have long been celebrated by minimalists, and it’s fast becoming clear that simplicity is having its moment in the spotlight once more, in no small part thanks to the likes of The Row, Jil Sander, Alberta Ferretti, Hermès and Peter Do. Not forgetting the fact that now more than ever we’re wanting to invest in sustainable pieces that both last the distance and transcend seasons, and you’ve got fashion’s perfect storm. “White, minimalist colour palettes and prints go in and out of style with changing seasons and attitudes,” says Caroline Maguire, fashion director at Shopbop. “An all-white look is a classic, timeless trend that is suitable for every occasion. What’s more, minimalism is seasonless, making it a safe bet for times when you’re unsure of what to wear, but still want to look chic.”
Purist through and through, we’re noticing a new mood for clean, monochromatic elegance on the runways. This minimal trend supports the building of a back-to-basics wardrobe that reinforces staples that matter, becoming the basis for the ultimate in mix and match style. Just look to The Row which, to be fair, has never had maximalism in its vocabulary. Instead, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen continue to work with their favourite neutrals, in proportions that were roomy and silhouettes that flowed freely. Similarly Peter Do made his New York runway debut with a collection he likened to making a good pho: “reduced and edited, to an essence.” He put functionality at the forefront, cutting out any excesses with a pared back collection of long billowing blouses, simple coats and figure- hugging dresses in an icy colour palette. “Do keep in mind that this season’s minimalism doesn’t need to mean pure white, though,” explains Maguire. “I’m definitely in support of working other shades to balance out your outfit.” Be that mixing in creams, ivories, khakis or beige, the potential combination of neutrals is endless.
With sustainability becoming a more pressing issue, people are looking to investment pieces that not only stand the test of time, but can also work across multiple scenarios. Right now that comes in the form of the all-white trouser suit, a key focus this season. Seen at Giambattista Valli and Valentino, it makes a crisp alternative to your typical jeans- and-a-blazer ensemble, especially when worn loose-fitting and slouchy, making it perfect for both the office and dinner. “White or off-white suiting is an empowering trend because of the confident powerhouse feeling that wearing a suit evokes, especially thanks to the strong shoulder statements, elongated blazer and formality,” says Caroline. “It’s something everyone should have in their wardrobe.” On the other hand, those looking for something warmer, cosy and Bohemian should turn to Chloe, where Gabriela Hearst can always be relied on to inject some laid-back luxury into fashion’s walk, embracing free-spirited ponchos, lacy dresses, and a smattering of boyish pantsuits.
When it comes to fabrics, easy and wearable textures are key to working the minimal trend during the day, with cotton poplin and linen blends, plus crochet and knit styles taking pride of place. These laid-back styles work for a more relaxed aesthetic that will see you through the Holy Month in both comfort and style. And when night falls, don’t be afraid to opt for a more structured look – Maria Grazia Chiuri pulled out a glamorous white evening gown over at Dior, while at Michael Kors we saw a structured white blazer dress perfect for a little after-hours glamour. Oh, and if you’re thinking of finalising your look with bright accessories, then think again – one of the only pops of colour we saw was at Chloe, so keep bags and shoes simple by focusing on mixed metals. Chunky gold chains will look particularly effective for an Iftar with friends. “White is such a standout that other brights can jar against it, so err on the side of caution,” adds Caroline. If SS22 has taught us one thing, it’s that minimalism comes in many forms, be it Colgate-white ensembles, draped silk dresses, classic blazers or neutral voluminous trews injecting a dose of laid-back elegance into our wardrobes. After all, it’s the simplest things that make the most impact.
- Words by Naomi Chadderton