Maximalist style with secondhand clothes Way Things Form

Ultimate guide to sustainable maximalist style with secondhand fashion

When I started my sustainable fashion journey. there was one thing I couldn’t compromise – my maximalist style. I guess that’s why you are here as well.

June 2024

I really do find it difficult to pick up black clothes. Colours and prints are what make my world so wonderful. And if I do choose black, it better be textures and shapes. So I would say, I am pure breed maximalist.

However, maximalist style and sustainable fashion are not really two phrases that sound like they fit into one sentence. I am here to tell you otherwise! I have been living more than 3 years without buying anything newly produced and my wardrobe has gotten only more fun and fabulous.

The world is so overpopulated with clothes that it isn’t even a question anymore – anything can be found secondhand, pre-loved.

Maximalist style with secondhand clothes Way Things Form

What is maximalist style in fashion anyway?

Before we get into how one can embrace maximalist style sustainably, let’s discuss what exactly is this mindblowingly exciting style.

In short, maximalist style in fashion is characterized by bold, eclectic and often colourful approach.

Maximalism contrasts sharply with minimalist fashion, which emphasizes simplicity and the idea ‘less is more’. But let’s try pin down the features of maximalist fashion! If you follow some of these characteristics , you’re probably part of the maximalists pack:

🌸 Bold colours and prints. Maximalist fashion often includes vibrant colours and eye-catching prints. By mixing florals, animal prints and geometric shapes  in a single outfit, you are on the maximalist track! My personal favourites are actually dots and wiggles!

🌸 Layers and textures. Be it sequines with velvet or embroidery with (faux) fur.

🌸 Statement accessories. Accessories play a crucial role in maximalist fashion. This can be anything like oversized, colourful jewellery or a statement bag. This is also one of the reasons I created the Way Things Form earrings collection – I desparately needed light statement earrings!

🌸 Rich fabrics, such as silk, velvet, brocade and satin are staples in maximalist wardrobes, adding to the overall opulent look.

🌸 Mixing styles and eras. Maximalist style often blends different fashion eras and styles. An outfit might incorporate elements from the 70s, 80s, and contemporary trends all at once.

If you are looking for some inspiration from world famous maximalist fashion designers,  there are plenty! Famous proponents of maximalist fashion include designers like Viktor & Rolf, Alessandro Michele previously for Gucci and now for Valentino, Vivienne Westwood and one of my facourites for sustainability – Germanier.

How can one be a maximalist and sustainable?

If you research sustainable fashion brands, a majority of them are more in the minimalist sphere. That’s why the pre-loved scene is a great source of inspiration for any sustainable maximalist!

The good news is that there is an endless amount of secondhand clothes available to create any maximalist look you might dream of!

Unlike running after trends, dressing in maximalist style with secondhand clothes encourages creativity and individuality like never before. When mixing and matching items from thrifted sources, you can create outfits that are much more unique and “you” than anything in a regular firsthand store.

What’s especially crazy is that the pre-loved clothes don’t have to mean vintage or previous eras anymore. It’s quite the opposite – we have now arrived at a point where there is sooooo much overproduction and so many clothes unwanted, maybe worn once, that you can easily find newer maximalist secondhand items as well.

The key here is going to the right stores. 10 years ago secondhand stores were mainly thrift stores and markets, full of endless amount of clothes. Nowadays you can find beautiful curated stores for diffent styles (including maximalist style!). Let me give you some examples. Galeries Lafayette in Paris has now half the floor dedicated to premium pre-loved clothes. The Relove store in Helsinki barely feels like a secondhand store.

Also, a maximalist outfit doesn’t have to be tons of pieces and layers – it can only be one banger dress (like the pink one on the photo at the top!). Since clothes like this are these days available pre-loved, even that is easy to do.

And that is the not-so-secret, how my #nonewclothes maximalist lifestyle is possible. There really isn’t anything anymore that you can’t find secondhand!

If you are a maximalist at heart,  but not really sure you can do it without buying any newly produced clothes, check out my guide to making sustainable fashion choices.

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Need some inspiration for maximalist style?

Maximalism isn’t anything new – it has been around for decades. The maximalism we talk about today is often seen as the style born in the 1980’s London club scene, but let’s be real – Rococo was quite a maximalist era as well! But let’s have a look at some of the more recent icons.

Leigh Bowery

An iconic figure in the 1980s London club scene, Leigh Bowery was known for his outrageous and avant-garde fashion. His looks often featured extreme makeup, elaborate costumes, and surreal, sculptural designs. Bowery’s influence extended beyond the club scene into performance art and fashion design, making him a key figure in the maximalist movement.

Boy George

The lead singer of Culture Club, Boy George became a fashion icon in the 1980s with his flamboyant and gender-bending style. His look often included bright colors, dramatic makeup, and a mix of different cultural fashion elements. Boy George’s style was a quintessential example of maximalist fashion in the club scene.

Zandra Rhodes

A British fashion designer known for her bold and colorful designs, Zandra Rhodes’ creations were popular among the London club scene fashionistas. Her use of vivid prints, dramatic silhouettes, and eclectic inspirations made her a key figure in maximalist fashion.

Iris Apfel

Continuing in New York. Known for her maximalist approach, Iris Apfel combines high-end fashion with flea market finds, always emphasizing the importance of personal style and creativity. Her signature look includes oversized round glasses, layers of chunky jewelry, vibrant colors, and mixing different patterns and textures.

Anna Dello Russo

Anna Dello Russo is an Italian fashion journalist, editor, and creative consultant known for her extravagant, daring, and highly theatrical style. Her fashion sense is characterized by a fearless approach to bold outfits, making her a standout figure in the fashion world with maximalist style.

If you are curious about the secondhand-only maximalist and sustainable fashion mindset, connect with me on Instagram!