So long loungewear! Aoibhinn McBride on why more is more when it comes to fashion and interiors in the post lockdown era.
If the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns have taught us anything, it's that there’s no time like the present to embrace the return of dressing up, which is why the maximalist trend in all its bold, embellished and colourful glory is making such a powerful resurgence.
The antithesis to restriction and our penchant for loungewear, maximalism is rooted in celebration and extravagance, and according to Shakaila Forbes-Bell, Fashion Psychologist and founder of Fashion is Psychology, it should come as no surprise that dressing up has started to replace dressing down as we’re finally getting the chance to indulge our craving for a more creative approach.
"Over a year spent in loungewear can cause some to experience 'loungewear fatigue’ due to the way we're hardwired to be attracted to novelty hence the embracing of bold styles," she elaborates.
"Similarly, studies have shown that outlandish dressing has a type of tension release dimension because it can act as a form of escapism which will appeal to many after the tumultuous nature of the last 18 months."
The return of socialising has also contributed to this change in mindset, as Dr Dawnn Karen, a fashion psychologist and author of Dress Your Best Life explains: "We were basically deprived so now there's an insatiable desire to hold on to everything we have and then some."
She also believes that the pandemic gave people the freedom to experiment with different styles, which plays into the maximalist trend and its celebratory nature.
"We’re now more inclined to dress for ourselves and depending on where you are in the world you’re doing mood enhancement dressing aka dopamine dressing which is one of my theories – dressing to optimise your mood," she suggests. "Prior to the pandemic we were dressing for others."
This sentiment rings true for stylist Corina Gaffey who forecasts that next season and beyond will not only be celebratory but almost defiant in nature.
"With lockdown, everything was scaled back, from emotional connections to our wardrobes. It was all so restrained when it came to our style choices. So in 2021, maximalism is really about having fun, wearing those pieces that spark joy and breaking all the rules regarding what colours, prints, fabrics work together. It’s all about dialling it up and adopting a more is more approach, and I think it’s up to the wearer on what they consider maximalism to them."
Something Shelly Corkery, Fashion Buying Director Brown Thomas Arnotts also predicts and attributes to the designers who have brought a sense of occasion to their collections for the season ahead.
"From relaxed knitwear to heading out in partywear, it’s all about making a statement with bold colour, embellishments and oversized silhouettes," she says.
"The Autumn Winter 2021 collections saw designers celebrate the return to normality. It’s a playful and optimistic season ahead for us to look forward to. Designers’ showcased partywear looks in metallic hues, mini dresses, and knits that are paired with ultra-feminine pencil skirts. Casual knitwear, a wardrobe go-to now, received a bold maximalist update in zany stripes, a kaleidoscope of colours and chunky silhouettes."
"Looking forward to the autumn/winter catwalks, there’s a distinct out-out fashion feeling, with Alberta Ferretti, Prada, Burberry, Valentino and Louis Vuitton creating party-centric pieces fit for the dance floor," Corina Gaffey agrees.
"Currently, it seems people aren’t waiting for a special occasion to embrace to joy of fashion, dressing up instead for the little life events whether it’s outside dining or coffee with friends."
And it isn’t just our wardrobes that are getting the maximalist treatment; our homes are also getting in on the act. Interior designer Emily Cunnane proposes that there’s been a distinct shift away from minimalism in the way we’re decorating our living spaces in favour of bold print, colour and object d’art.
"I’m seeing more and more people becoming braver and more expressive in their homes. Wanting to feel like your home is your own, and wanting to be reminded of memories," she explains.
"Gingham and check are coming back in and that’s being mixed with florals, and that’s something that was in my house growing up. It always felt homely and comfortable and welcoming and I think that’s why it’s coming back. It’s that feeling of comfort and safety that we want to feel in our homes."
And while you might think maximalist interiors are all about stuff, Emily argues that the trend is rooted in creating a streamlined, functional living space that allows its owners to adorn it with items that they truly love or have a backstory or shared history.
"The minimalist trend is about putting things away and creating space and for me, the maximalist trend is about putting things on display that bring you joy and make you feel good. Facilitating them with pattern and colour. It’s about bravery and things that tell a story about where you’ve been. I don’t think we’re completely going away from Marie Kondo."
"People still want clutter to be put away and the home to work functionally. They want elements of minimalism where you can hide things away that you don’t necessarily need to see everyday. But on the other side, because those bits are being put away it enables the home to work as more of a showpiece and those more decorative pieces can stand out."
"Also these days you can kind of do what you want and take elements from one and mix it with the other which is why maximalism is so accessible; there are no rules, there’s a lot more freedom. It’s just easier."