Around four years ago skinny jeans, especially black, became my uniform. Any need to dress up – out and about, to the pub, to a conference, I would invariably base my outfit on these. Trousers are the key to pretty much your entire style. Along with shoes, they can turn an outfit from trash to fuego, like a light switch. They can also completely change the tone of an outfit: thus the current trend for cropped and wider legged trousers, worn by millennials like me who live in skinny jeans whenever we can.
Of course, minimaldrobe is not about riding that “hypebeast” wave, but I do believe that clothing choices are important, and are a way of being intentional. And therefore, our style is part of our lives as minimalists, looking to live intentionally and rationally. Aesthetics are a part of life, even if beauty and ugliness are things that are irrational.
A case in point? I was walking along earlier today, and a guy around my age was walking on the opposite side of the street. In almost every way their outfit was similar to mine: jeans, checked shirt worn open over a t-shirt, low top trainers. Our colour palettes, however, were totally different. Mine was entirely black and grey, the only flash of white being the swoosh and sole of my runners. His was also far more conservative in terms of fit – straight/slim jeans, in a blue wash. Everyone has different priorities – that’s cool. And it wasn’t an outfit I would trash; I don’t believe in that kind of negativity, anyway. Hey, I used to wear clothes just like that guy, after-all. My tastes just changed. And like it or not, clothes are an important part of culture, and the way in which individuals present themselves in a postmodern world.
Make a statement.
Looking back, becoming fashionable by developing a personal style was an incredible act of consumerism, self-fashioning and intentionality. I feel like that period in my life, when I deliberately learned and reprogrammed that part of myself, from being a young man vaguely interested in clothes to a man in his mid-20s who can tell his J.W. Anderson from his new Gucci, is something I will never truly ‘lose’. I think the main development from that time of my life was learning the hermeneutic side of fashion, the ability to size up and have an ‘eye’ for something. Finding I loved skinny jeans was a gateway to a whole new silhouette.
One simple way to mix things up in a minimalist wardrobe is to play with your colour palette. So instead of wearing black skinny jeans, wear white, off-white or grey. Wear items that combine two of your colours, such as a monochrome printed shirt, or a jacket with contrasting elements. What better way of showing your intentionality about your style, than making a simple yet effective statement?
So here are my items:
1. (bleach) White skinny jeans
2. Grey skinny jeans.
My minimalist tips.
- Do not necessarily go for the starkest of light jeans. The stereotype of spilling something on bright, optic white jeans is something you can avoid by opting for bleached white jeans, as I have here. I have actually found them pretty practical! Because they are already non-pristine you can rest easier.
- The pockets. A lot of white or light coloured jeans can look silly because you can see the pockets through the legs. Either try and find items that do not have this problem, which is possible, or have your pockets shortened (DIY/tailor).
- Think of these items as being largely casual items. Yes, white jeans looks great with a blazer, but you probably also need to be on the French Riviera (or be an Apprentice candidate) for that look to make sense. Nevertheless they can look incredibly sharp, especially when paired with classic jackets like leather bikers, denim and bomber jackets.
In terms of outfits there are two main approaches, for me, both of which keep things simple and cohesive:
- Go for contrast (see @oak_ghost above). Whether it’s a colour, or print, both items are brought into focus this way. It also means that neither your jeans or your shirt/t-shirt is going to dominate the other. This can create some pretty bold looks. I don’t own one, but you can craft some incredible outfits with something loud like a viscose shirt and contrasting white jeans.
- Go for tone (see @sangiev below. This is where the term palewave really comes into play. Palewave is a term that describes dressing head-to-toe in a palette made up of colours like nude, camel, pale pinks, very light greys. It is easy for this (trend?) to stray into “grandad”, which can even be part of the intention. The drape and cut of the fabrics are key to understanding this look.
As you can see, these tips demand you to be cohesive, whether that’s in focusing on keeping a contrast, or an exclusive ensemble of pale colours.
My outfits in this post (see gallery above) play with these rules. My camo t-shirt and fog grey skinny jeans outfit is one of my favourite combinations in my wardrobe. It’s something I feel comfortable and creative wearing, because the fabrics are soft yet still structured. Meanwhile, my tonal outfit arguably marries my two rules: the blacks of the baseball cap, t-shirt and polka dots add depth, but the Common Projects leather sneakers, the bleach white jeans and the white of the short sleeve shirt all provide that tonal base. I guess I’m not brave enough to try the full, palewave look a la Sangiev above.
Further outfits gallery.