Matters of Style: Maximalism and Fashion

Maximalism defined

Maximalism is an aesthetic defined by the notion that “more is more”. A reaction against minimalism, maximalist designs are based on excess and redundancy.

This is why maximalism is overly complex, elaborate and showy. Maximalists are obsessed with details and with mixing different types of already visually elaborate elements.

While maximalism as such has been theorized only quite recently, the obsession for overdecorated things and for using a multitude of colors, prints and patterns has existed since very early on. If you think about it, the rococo and baroque styles are highly decorative movements, both in the visual arts and in other arts such as music or theater, where works of art consist of an abundance of elements.



Maximalism and clothes

Kenzo Spring 2018 Menswear

In fashion, it can be said that in a way, maximalism has always been present. Royal figures have always loved adorning themselves and their environments. Just think of Louis XIV or pretty much any other king of the past in the Western world.

In recent times, after the 19th century, this aesthetic has disappeared very much from the cultural landscape. The fact that it requires many resources and a lot of talent have made it hard to appeal to the masses. And this is the debate that surrounds maximalism lies. While it is generally accepted in different creative fields that it is extremely hard to obtain the essence of something through minimal means, it is generally seen as easy for it to be done with many elements. While it is true that using more elements is easier to express the core of a concept of idea, when you decide to use extremely many, which maximalists do, it becomes just as hard.

In other words, mixing two or three patterns might be of average difficulty, but mixing four, five or six is already quite hard. To obtain looks that are really elegant, sophisticated and very visually charged is just as hard as obtaining looks that are minimal in elements, but maximal in idea.



The maximalist look

Maximalist prints

Fashion brands and designers such as Dolce and Gabbana, Haider Ackermann, Etro, Roberto Cavalli and Kenzo have often used maximalist aesthetics in their designs. Also, style icons such as Iris Apfel have are great examples of how one can wear lots and lots of colors, prints, patterns and textures and create a look that is cohesive and coherent.

What it takes to create great maximalist outfits is an eye for balance and aesthetics. One should know the rules of mixing colors, combining prints and making the best use of accessories and then practice applying these together at an extrapolated level. Obtaining a great maximalist look demands time, effort and much attention and, while great results might not appear from the first try, practice will make perfect over time.


Maximalism is an aesthetic that does not receive a lot of exposure, but there are many designers, stylists and professionals who opulence in their work, as well as snappy dressers who bring color and dynamism to the streets of the world.

The online medium has made it easy for people to discover maximalism and to see that it is something many are preoccupied with, even though it is not a mainstream style. Who knows, though, it might become one.


Fraquoh and Franchomme






Further reading:

The complete guide to mixing patterns and prints

How to wear 3 patterns or prints

What are the different types of prints on clothes

Choose the colors of your clothes like a pro

A guide to coordinating the colors of your clothes (+examples)

Choosing the colors of your clothes according to your skin tone

Discovering what colors to wear according to your natural features

Choosing the best color of clothes for dark skin tones

Attire Club mood board: Prints and patterns

Less is more: A man’s guide to minimalist elegance

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