Trying a new aesthetic for a week – here is what I found
Livia Cockerell explores the rise of fashion aesthetics
Back in June 2020, the search for “aesthetic clothes” reached an all-time peak as we all awaited a summer in which we would finally be able to escape our loungewear. But why have we all become so fixated on having our ‘own look’ and how do we navigate ourselves within this maze of aesthetics?
Something I find particularly interesting about different fashion aesthetics is that they have become a way in which we can simultaneously stand out and fit in. Take Kawaii for example, a look that embraces all things pastel, teddy bears, bows, long socks and skater skirts – in other words, a ‘cute’ aesthetic. Needless to say, someone who wears this style of clothing is going to stand out amongst the crowd, however, there is also a great sense of community within the culture of Kawaii – there are Facebook groups, online forums, Instagram pages all in which people are able to share their common love for this aesthetic.
Whatever the reasoning behind it, it is obvious that aesthetics like this can act as a powerful form of self-expression, but this leads me to question whether our aesthetic can alter as we do? Or, when it comes to fashion, are we expected to choose a lane and stick to it? Being someone who, I would say, has not quite found their lane yet, I like to hope it is the former! I would describe my style as somewhat…varied.
Like most people, my aesthetic is influenced by many factors, the weather, my mood, what I’ve been watching on TV (I definitely dipped into a bit of dark academia after watching Marianne in Normal People). But generally, I would say that minimalism is not my go to. I am not shy of a lairy print or a bit of colour clashing. Yet, despite this, I can’t help but be in awe of the chic and cosmopolitan aura of minimalist fashion; the simplicity of the palette and streamlined shapes simply oozes sophistication and elegance.
So, this week I decided to have a bit of a make-under as it were, as I tested out the minimalist aesthetic for myself. Now, I must be honest and admit that this was more difficult than I thought it would be – many a times did I find myself resisting the urge to reach for one of my patterned sweatshirts or printed midi-skirts! But once I had sorted through my wardrobe and established the neutral colour palette I was going to be working with, it was challenge on!
Throughout the week, I kept an eye out for minimalist looks on Pinterest and Instagram (I found Stacey Dooley and Lindsey Holland’s Insta pages particularly inspiring) and I surprised myself with how versatile this style could be. I came to realise that minimalism was not just limited to a black and white colour scheme as I had ignorantly presumed beforehand. Of course, a defining component of minimalist fashion is a more limited colour palette but there is certainly wriggle-room to have a lot of fun with this.
What’s more, in a world in which we are all desperately trying to reduce waste, I realised the importance of the minimalist’s shopping habits. Minimalism encourages the reusing and re-wearing of garments and this is made effortless by the simple fact that everything matches! (This certainly made the ritual of choosing an outfit in the morning much easier task – it felt like a bit of a pick-and-mix!)
Testing out a new aesthetic really enabled me to get a bit more creative with my wardrobe and try new outfits that I would not ordinarily turn to. Ultimately, I did miss my garish patterns too much to embrace the minimalist lifestyle in the long-term (in fact, as I’m writing this, I am wearing my pink flares and floral orange cardigan just to make up for lost time!), but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be converted one day. In fact, had I been able to sit outside a café with a coffee in hand feeling classy and chic, the minimalist lifestyle may have been for me!