Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 September 2020

Fashion notes: Often, less actually means more work

When it comes to the modern rules of dress, nothing effortless is easy. Minimalism is – despite what the name suggest – incredibly difficult to pull together.
 Balenciaga's spring/summer 2015 collection at Paris Fashion Week. PixelFormula / Sipa / Rex
Balenciaga's spring/summer 2015 collection at Paris Fashion Week. PixelFormula / Sipa / Rex

Only certain people can live with minimalism all of the time. We all know them and we’ve probably all rolled our eyes at them. Mums who can wear white, and not look like a piece of modern art at the end of the day. The mildly irritating type who never misses an appointment, or a button – that sort of person.

Admittedly, we’re probably a little jealous, but the rest of us (those of us scrambling around on the periphery, heads just about above water) know that the effortlessness of minimalist dressing is a false proposition – a utopian thought.

If only we lived in a world where “effortless” actually meant so. For when it comes to the modern rules of dress, nothing effortless is easy.

Minimalism is – despite what the name suggests – ­incredibly difficult to pull together. The very concept is often more rut-producing than liberating, and classics are only ever ­really classics in a context of time and culture. Mastering simplicity takes work.

If we hark back to the ­advertising campaigns and runways of the 1990s (where the modern form of the ­concept began) when designers such as Calvin Klein and Maison Martin Margiela first explored versions of the ­dressing-down revolution, we can start with looking at overall presentation.

As mentioned, a clean-cut ­aesthetic needs some groundwork: nude, nicely manicured nails, a swipe of mascara and tamed – but not over-shaped – brows will form the perfect canvas on which to build.

A neat, black liner and a nude lip will add just the right amount of definition for ­evenings and if your hair is long, keep it straight and neat, either in a tight ponytail or bun.

What we’re looking for here are clean, architectural lines. The pieces you wear every day should be of such a high quality that you want to wear them every day. Leather, silk, linen, cashmere and anything in 100 per cent cotton will be your investment pieces.

Colour wise, look to the French for inspiration – black, navy, white, cream, brown and grey will go with pretty much anything.

There is no need for a complete overhaul – tweaking a few favourites every so often will keep things fresh. A new accessory here, a different shoe there.

There is a certain art to dressing with simplicity; get it wrong and you will only look undone.

Accessories should be well thought out and non-­argumentative, so keep your eye out for simple, interesting designs made from mixed metals.

Bags should be in perfect condition, not a scratch in sight or a zipper out of joint. A good old no-nonsense leather tote or something similar will work, but stay clear of anything obviously branded.

Shoes should be flat, when possible, although a small and neat heel will work well for ­evenings.

A minimal life is not necessarily one of deprivation – ­experimentation and innovation play a huge role in pulling together our signature look, so don’t eradicate a sense of ­humour completely. Nothing is more boring than a look that’s too precious.

weekend@thenational.ae

Updated: December 11, 2014 04:00 AM

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