I never thought I would be advocating a minimalist approach to fashion — I’m more of the “pile it on” school of thought when it comes to jewelry, and I love to experiment with patterns and colors. So what gives? Two words: Stella McCartney. I died when I saw her pared down yet effortlessly, mind-blowingly chic Fall 2010 collection. I mean. Have gray pants and kitten heels ever looked so slick?
I am seriously digging the proportions: tailored pants, slightly boxy tops, and leg-lengthening pointy-toed heels. And all in unfussy monochromatics. What eye-catching restraint! Stella: you are genius.
What’s less is most certainly more in this case. I cannot wait to test-drive. Take a slightly boxy top in unassuming gray — this little Helmut Lang is perfect ($175, TheOutnet) — and pair with tailored black pants (these Thakoons are for you label lusters out there! — $525, La Garconne):
Add a pair of uber-unfussy pointy toed shoes — these Gabrielle Rocha come in a range of on-point-for-the-season colors (including camel!) and are pleasantly affordable ($59, Zappos):
Once a magpie, always a magpie: I’d need to add some adornment, but would keep it low-key — just a silver cuff (I’ve long wanted this Paloma Picasso for Tiffany “bone cuff” — $800, Tiffany — how chic!?) and some super understated polished silver studs ($32, Nordstrom):
Personally, when I’m shopping for the look, however, I’d save on the black pants and invest in the shoes. I’d pair a boxy top (Gryphon, on sale for $207, Les Nouvelles) with some inexpensive pants-of-the-season: I’m eager to get my rear end to lower-end retailers this afternoon to try on some of their offerings in terms of cropped, slim-cut black pants — the J. Crew Minnie is a classic (pictured below, on sale for $39, J. Crew), but I’m also interested in taking Gap’s Premium Collection of black pants out for a spin (new this season — I’m in love with the slim crop variation — $59, Gap):
For dressier occasions, pair the above bag with a simple asymmetrical dress in stark white (Michael Kors, $635, TheOutnet) and some killa pumps (literally — you risk your life in these uber-high Louboutins, but damn, you look good — $755, Net-A-Porter):
And how sleek would you look layering this o.m.g. Stella coat ($1,107, TheOutnet) atop an all-business gray sheath (adore this Richard Nicoll number — $788, MyTheresa — but you can find less expensive variations at Ann Taylor and J. Crew) and some fierce platforms (my boss owns these Pour La Victoire “Irinas” in glossy black and kills in them; they’re a lot less scary in person, especially in dove gray — $250, Wink NYC):
Because MK and Ashley Olson have been all.over the minimalist trend for years (they’re almost always ahead of the curve — perhaps a bit too far ahead of the curve, as I often find their styles alienatingly avant-garde — what’s with the cross-knuckle rings?! They scare me.), I’ve got to nod in their direction with this column dress in stark white (Dar Ti, $300, Shopbop):
Pair with substantial sandals in unexpected gray — these Pour La Victoires ($165, Bluefly) have had my eye for awhile, but I wasn’t quite sure how I’d style them until now:
Ashley and MK approve. As does my fashion designer sister, who has worked to convince me of this aesthetic for, like, decades. I’ve always wriggled away but I now see the genius of her foresight — the exercise of wise restraint when dealing with gorgeous, solid separates truly lets the beauty of the design shine through. And it feels zen-like, uncluttered, fresh.
While on the subject of LWDs (I know it’s after Labor Day, but this look means business and can most definitely get away with winter white!), I’ve just got to feature this Calvin Klein sheath ($1,295, Net-A-Porter) — not only is it the perfect capstone piece for any minimalista, but it’s by Calvin Klein, father of the minimalist, monochromatic movement!
Go Gwnyeth Paltrow on us and throw on a sleek gray nubby blazer. This McCartney piece is positively iconic ($2,095, Net-A-Porter) but this fraction-of-the-price BB Dakota variation has most definitely made my fall must-have list ($95, Shopbop):
Either would look killer with gray suede pumps — see above for options, or go with these classic Delmans ($295, ShoptheShoebox):
Another surprising way of nailing the minimalist look this season — and believe me, I never thought I’d be advocating for this: leather skirts (just the phrase reminds me of chintzy pleather and studs at a biker bar — ick). They’ve cropped up in the collections of the most unexpected of designers, from Rag and Bone to gasp-worthy, prim-and-proper Celine:
Um, how is it possible that leather looks so…Carolyn Bessette Kennedy (another dazzling minimalista, and it’s no surprise, since she worked for Mimimalisto King, Calvin Klein)?
This is definitely a situation for proceeding with caution. A straight forward white button-down or this bow-neck blouse ($185, Rebecca & Drew) with a trim pencil skirt (Theory, $379, Zappos) and some serious heels (Louboutin, $595, Net-A-Porter) is all you need:
Because the look is so refined and scaled-back, you can get away with a slightly louder print on the handbag without losing your minimalista touch. I say this because I’m eagerly chomping at the bit in anticipation of featuring this swoonworthy Celine tote (ever since Pheobe Philo took over at Celine, I’ve seen good, GOOD things — including this jaw-droppingly gorgeous ad):
Mega-swoon. Because I’m pretty sure you have to Be Somebody slash have a bajillion dollars to snag that puppy, some more affordable alternatives include this unexpected find from Johnston and Murphy ($298, Johnston & Murphy) and this affordable TopShop lovely ($80, TopShop):
Pretty much obsess over the latter in particular. It’s now joined the ranks of my fall wish list. Sigh. If the leather skirt is too much for you — well, first take a looksie at the ever-put-together Gwyneth P. and reconsider — and then consider subbing out for suede ($160, Karen Millen):
And, finally, some minimalista staples — ways of getting the look but with items that you can repurpose in myriad ways. You’ll need a sharp-looking black blazer — this Elizabeth and James version is a classic (probably because MK and Ashley are the design geniuses behind this line — $395, Shopbop):
(Madewell has a solid, less expensive alternative for $168.) Gray tops of any variety are a must — I loveee this versatile silky ACNE top ($330, Net-A-Porter), but think this J. Crew boyfriend sweatshirt will come in handy on a weekly/daily basis this fall ($69, J. Crew):
As for footwear: pared-down, straight-forward leather boots are the way to go. I adore the color of these nude booties (Schutz, $220, Shopbop), but these black Loeffler Randalls are beyond classic ($695, FootNotesOnline):
At a loss for styling? MK’s got it down pat here. Love the proportions.
Funny how it works: scale back and yet amp up on shine…