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Art of Style

Minimalism vs maximalism: the personal style debate

Are you a minimalist or a maximalist? Do your sartorial leanings edge towards clean lines, neutral color palettes and anything by The Row? Or do you have a penchant for prints (the bolder the better), unrestrained layering and head-to-toe color? At opposite ends of the style spectrum are KINJIL MATHUR and CRYSTAL ANDERSON, who each make the case for their respective aesthetics


The minimalist

Kinjil Mathur, chief marketing officer at Squarespace

“I try not to overthink what I’m wearing; I’m almost always in all-white or all-black. This keeps my getting-ready process as simple as possible and frees up more time in the morning to prepare for my day or spend time with my 16-month-old son, Ceyone. All my meetings take place virtually now, and on any given day I could be connecting with our board, catching up with my London team or taking an exploratory call with a potential brand partner, so I tend to choose interesting separates that subtly garner attention but don’t distract from what I’m saying. It’s been an evolution since moving to New York City 13 years ago; I worked in fashion and learned the art of dressing from some of the best. But as I moved into increasingly challenging positions in my career, I leaned further in to simplifying where I could, and simplifying my work style was an easy place to start. From frequent flying (under normal circumstances) to being a new mama trying to use her voice to be the change, the simplicity that comes with minimalism is key for my head space.”

How I dress directly affects the energy I’m giving out. If I have a day of whiteboard ideation with my team, I’ll dress in a more relaxed manner to invite collaboration

“So much about the world we live in has changed over the past few months, so while I’m not heading into Squarespace’s West Village office every day, my style has remained somewhat unchanged – although maybe slightly more relaxed given that I’m working from home. Typical summer looks include paper-bag-waist pants with a crisp white tee, a midi dress with clean lines and oversized linen shirts. How I dress directly affects the energy I’m giving out and, inversely, it influences the energy I receive. If I have a day of whiteboard ideation with my team, I’ll dress in a more relaxed manner to invite collaboration and healthy debate. If I need creative energy, I’ll wear something from a brand that inspires me, such as Jacquemus, Sacai, Loewe or Cecilie Bahnsen. If I need to be taken seriously, I’ll choose a power piece, which right now is a striped shirt dress from Saint Laurent. I usually have multiple evening engagements throughout the week, so day-to-night dressing is key. I also love Isabel Marant (no one is as street-chic as her), Cult Gaia for summer-vacation staples, and Khaite and Orseund Iris for statement black and white separates.

“Of course, keeping things minimal from a color-palette standpoint doesn’t mean clothes are uninteresting. Playing with different textures and experimenting with the structure of an outfit is one way I like to express my personal style. When I’m on vacation, that’s my opportunity to dip a toe into print and color; I like to dress the part on vacations. Positano? Dolce & Gabbana prints, of course. Rose gardens in Antibes? Brock Collection, no doubt.

“My top styling trick? Edit, and then edit again. That mantra is what helped me evolve into the minimalist I am today.”

The maximalist

Crystal Anderson, co-founder and head of creative at A Very Good Job

“I’m from the American South, where getting dressed is like a sport. I remember whenever I stayed at my grandmother’s house, I’d wake up to the smell of coffee and bacon and she’d be fully dressed, with her perfume and makeup on, whether she was going somewhere or not. That really started my love of getting dressed for myself; she never got dressed for anyone else, it was so she could feel good. My dad is Italian and my mom is African American, and they always really championed this idea of being who I wanted to be. Nothing was off limits in terms of how I dressed, and my mom introduced me to vintage shops early on. I think that’s where my maximalist approach to life and dressing started.

“I’ve always been really open about my mental-health struggles, and it’s very easy for me to fall into a depression and not think about self-care. A big part of the way that I show up in the world is how I dress. If I’m having a bad day, I really over-index on my style because clothes and getting dressed makes me happy and I think that’s largely due to being a maximalist; everything is colorful and feels like happy clothing. That’s not to say they automatically make me happy, but just the routine and the behavior of the way I get dressed is very intentional. I hope that halfway through the day, my brain and my exterior will start to match – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I always look really nice, so no matter what the day holds, I’ll be feeling alright.”

A big part of the way that I show up in the world is how I dress. If I’m having a bad day, I really over-index on my style because clothes and getting dressed makes me happy

“As a Black queer person, now more than ever, taking up space is really important. And I do that through the things I wear. Lately, I’ve been really into big ballgowns – I wear them to protests, or when I’m just moving through the world, so that people who don’t look like me can understand what it means to be Black and queer. Obviously, being both those things is not a monolith, but it’s part of the way I revolutionize and fight the system. So, right now, being part of the revolution means big dresses, ridiculous purses and lots and lots of jewelry.

“Depending on the day, sometimes I’ll start with shoes that I really want to wear, and other times I’ll start with the outfit. In terms of jewelry, I always wear an insane amount of Roxanne Assoulin bracelets. I don’t have ‘fancy’ shoes – anything I own, I’ll wear anywhere. I believe in my clothes being well-lived in because I want to pass them on to my children, or when I do closet sales, I want them to feel like they have a story. Clothing for me is the way music is for some people – you can hear a song and go right back to that spot, and clothing is that way for me.

[In terms of favorite brands] Christopher John Rogers is a friend of mine and I’m just so excited about everything he has going on. Maison Margiela is a favorite, too, because it always creates things that are so special and different, and they last forever. Rotate Birger Christensen – I love its big blouson sleeves. And Jacquemus for really simple basics to throw on with my crazier pieces.

“When people ask about my style, I tell them ‘wear what makes you happy’; it truly does not matter what anyone else thinks. And if you really want to be a maximalist, before you leave the house, add two more things – a pair of sunglasses, a bracelet… It never fails.”