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THE MINIMALIST’S STYLE GUIDE: HOW TO ACCESSORIZE

Feb 22, 2015

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When it comes to Minimalist essentials, accessories are fundamental. Minimalist fashion reflects a distilled lifestyle, inherently focused on function and utility –– of which, style happens to be a particularly advantageous effect.

Minimalist apparel is a palette, a canvas that sets the tone for the individual wearing the style to convey their own creative signature –– whether that be through their work, their walk, or their extended wardrobe. While accessories might appear to deter from, quite literally, the starkness of “minimal,” well-paired additions enable the wearer to pare down their need for excessive bulk through sheer functionality of the essentials (one wallet simplifies a pocketful of cash, cards, change, and smartphones –– and looks worlds better).

The question becomes, though, what are the essentials –– specifically for a Minimalist? When choosing how to accessorize a specific look, start with a slate in mind –– an accessories dashboard of sorts. Begin with the big picture, before pairing for a specific look, purchase with your collective style in mind. “Which Apple Watch band should I buy?” is a moot point if your style is vintage and wardrobe compliments traditional timepieces. This is not to say that retrosartorialists should embargo smartwatches, it simply means that when choosing essential pieces for the Minimalist accessory arsenal: utility is style, and your life work is reflected in said unique style.

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When scouting accessories, focus on purpose: what does this do? How does this add to the function and flow of my daily routine? If there is no answer, that’s your answer. The essential accessories serve a purpose, and like a well composed art piece, the aesthetic appeal is reflective of simple harmony between elements. For instance: the beanie that keeps your head warm on a clear late-winter afternoon, paired with silver-rimmed aviators to fade the sunlight, matched with a cashmere scarf to keep bundled just above the V-Neck neckline, all come together quite nicely with a leather wallet and silver hardware to personify the stellar cool of an unseasonably chilly Angeles day –– fashion and function, style and utility, mainstay mastery. So, where to begin?

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CASHMERE SCARF

First things first: with the essence of denim, comes the necessity of a belt. Denim is the Minimalist standard, the backbone fabric-and-frame of Minimalist’s signature aesthetic. Quality denim’s inherent appeal comes from its incomparable durability, and its natural shift in fade and fit over time –– giving the wearer a truly authentic look that is definitively one-of-a-kind. However, with age comes maintenance, and as anyone who dons denim can attest, when those old standards break-in, a classic belt becomes your wardrobe’s new best friend.

Regardless of how impeccably tailor-made any pair of denim sits on the first day, the structured silhouette will undoubtedly wear into a distinctly more relaxed fit. So, a good belt serves purpose beyond the simple function of holding a pair of pants just-so at the hip, while allowing the full trouser independent proportion; it also brings the full look of an outfit together. A solid black leather belt with silver hardware blends seamlessly into any Minimalist look, while breaking the potential aesthetic monotony of signature monochromatic styling. Leather wears over time, akin to denim, which lends to the pairing’s shared symmetry and visual reciprocity through years of wear-and-tear.

Next, with a modern identity comes: cards, keys, and a phone (and at least a few bills for the modern Minimalist –– cards are convenient, but cash is simply king, no swiping necessary). The wallet sells itself, its essential necessity breaks beyond fashion into sheer functioning-adult utility. The necessity of the piece then translates into which wallet makes the most sense for a Minimalist. The appeal of a slim bifold leather wallet is in its no-frills design: space for cash, space for cards, center-fold for pocket logistics –– a voila. The downside to a standard bifold wallet is that it is almost too Minimal for true versatile functionality, especially in the modern day and life of a contemporary creative.

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Zip Wallet

Upgrade the classic leather piece with a touch of rebel mettle, opt for a slightly stockier design with extra storage and reinforced hardware. Leather chain wallets are the perfect addition to a Minimalist gentleman’s style arsenal: mobile, durable, practical design with pristine attention to aesthetic detail. The silver hardware on a leather chain wallet are like the copper rivets on Levi’s patented classic 501: the low-key everything. Keep your pockets free and latch the chain onto a denim loop, or ease off of the metallic and go chainless for the sleek simplicity of a bonafide leather piece. Ladies, zip wallets are an almost impossibly perfect hybrid of the traditional leather wallet, and larger women’s clutch. The zip wallet shares the core appeal of the men’s wallet, while omitting the chain in lieu of a more unified, singular silhouette.

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CHAIN WALLET

Jewelry –– step back for a second, before we think Swarovski overload or mid-2000s MTV Presents: Cribs diamond-encrusted-everything flashbacks, take a breath and decompress. Statement pieces of jewelry are functional accessories in that they, by definition, make a statement: less is more, understated bold over excessive bulk. While the statement need not be which record label you signed to last week, sometimes a simple leather cuff bracelet says nothing more than, “I know how to balance an aesthetic.” A full look should exude effortless harmony across the composite pieces; so, a bare wrist mighty not convey “Minimalist,” so much as simply, “incomplete” –– read: “missed a piece.” This doesn’t necessarily mean raid Jacob the Jeweler, but it does mean have at least one or two statement bracelets, necklaces, and / or timepieces.

A clean leather strap bracelet is a solid mainstay for more singular-focused Minimalist styles that yield to one or two fabrics, and nominal metallics. A black canvas or leather cuff offers a stockier effect and adds heft to more slender wrists and overall slimmer frames. Again, proportion is key. Focus on a statement piece that adds a seamless ebb and flow to the contours of your whole silhouette, maximum width shouldn’t exceed that of two stacked standard link watchbands –– you’re wearing a statement, not a shackle. That said, metallic wrist-pieces do have their appeal as well. A simple silver band with a brushed finish emphasizes an inherent definition to the Minimalist look. The considered contrast adds balance to nearly any style as a standalone, and particularly when complimenting denim rivets, wallet chains, or aviator frames.

A more Minimalist-means-minimal approach to statement wrist-wear is the classic timepiece. Even amidst the modern era of “digital everything,” there is no accessory quite like a vintage wristwatch. Functionality: you need to know the time, a watch serves said purpose. Approach a watch the same way you would a bracelet: focus on flow, balance, and utility. If your look eases more toward the digital-native side of style, keep an eye on design when choosing from the spectrum of interchangeable smartwatch bands.

Rings, for all intents and immediate purposes, should be considered with relative caution. Again, the focus is on essentials, statement pieces that add harmony and completion to an outfit: default to class rings, sports rings, or wedding bands –– anything else is likely excessive.

Necklaces work well to balance looks with deeper cuts at the neckline –– think V-Necks, looming scoop necks, or even a stark camisole. If you have a particularly defined collarbone or decolletage, statement neck pieces draw subtle focus to your signature natural features. Depending on your collective style, any piece –– from a simple strap and stone or pendant, to a Cuban link chain –– should place nicely as a standalone mainstay. When opting for a stone or pendant, keep it neutral-toned. The design of a simple strap and singular piece conveys a cohesive sense of the essential, and underscores a more natural feel. Keep in mind, crystals and stones carry significance; when selecting a particular piece, it’s worth a recommendation (or at least a brief bit of research) on what Onyx says as opposed to, let’s say, Quartz.

Statement jewelry are conversation starters –– know thy style. When it comes to chains and metallic neck pieces, unless your wardrobe’s palette includes a strong repertoire of browns and rich earth tones, stick to silvers (stainless steel, white gold). Gold metallics work best with broader Minimalist wardrobes, whereas the standard black / white / charcoal gradient compliments silver’s natural chromatic hue.

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No essential accessory arsenal is complete without a signature pair of Aviator frames. Sunglasses have come to parallel the timepiece in their ubiquity and de facto necessity within individual style. The right pair of shades accentuates the shape of your face, and brings focus to overall facial definition by drawing attention to your eye-line, while allowing you to maintain cool eye-contact from behind the ocular anonymity of protective lenses. Sunglasses are one of those accessory exceptions –– Minimalist-style included –– where owning a collection of the statement piece boasts an eye for deft curation as opposed to sheer excess. Since “glasses” come in such a panorama of styles and designs, a Minimalist may own upwards of four or five pairs and still be well within the realm of sartorial selectivity.

That said, Aviators are a tried-and-true primer pair. The frame finds a signature hybrid between circular and squared, without appearing too definitively “triangular,” offering an unparalleled flow to most profiles. A steady alternative to Aviators is the classic Wayfarer frame; its signature trapezoidal design shares a similar yield toward rhythm over rigidity as the Aviator, conveying a sense of structured ease. Aviators’ metallic frame offers more versatility across styles, complimenting additional hardware elsewhere, or giving contrast as a strong silver standalone. Needless to say, no other accessory works quite as wonderful a secondary function as propped-up sunglasses on any sub-par hair day.

As a Minimalist, when defining your identity through style, make the most of fashion pieces that hold function at the root of their aesthetic iconicity. Statement pieces bear that title for good reason, so don’t be afraid to put that creative stamp to good use.

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