‘90s Minimalism Is the Perfect Fall Trend for Capsule Wardrobe Lovers
It started with white tank tops. Suddenly they were everywhere—all over our TikTok and Instagram feeds, popping up on most-loved lists at retailers like Shopbop and Nordstrom and even making an appearance on the runway at Prada’s FW 22 show. Then followed other simple basics, like non-distressed, medium-wash, straight-leg jeans, mid-rise wide-leg trousers, button-downs that are neither too fitted nor oversized and jersey maxi skirts and tank dresses. On their own, each of these wardrobe staples seem like smart, if slightly boring, investment pieces. The unexpected twist is that folks are wearing them all together, with no statement earrings, bright pops of color or otherwise attention-grabbing details to break up the look. Some call it ‘90s minimalism, some the rise of the wardrobe basic—we, however, call it a super surprising sartorial twist we simply did not see coming.
After our Year of Tie-Dye and Sweatpants, we jumped straight into revenge dressing, sporting all the dressy, flashy, exciting pieces we hadn’t felt able to wear for so long. Bright colors, sequins, cut-out knitwear, backless dresses and more maximalist trends have reigned supreme for the past year or so, culminating in Barbiecore, an aesthetic literally pulled straight from the party clothes of a plastic toy doll. So it was kind of a shock to see sleek minimalist looks walking the runway at Bottega Veneta and Chloé. We’re talking simple basics—white tank tops, straight-leg leather pants, turtleneck sweaters, oversize button-up shirts—with no extraneous detailing by way of intricate seams, glittering hardware or exaggerated silhouettes. It appears we’re headed into a phase wherein wardrobe basics are taking their turn in the spotlight.
We have to admit, with all the wild swings trends have been making lately—Barbiecore, Delicore, Pam Anderson Chic, Coastal Grandmother—we simply didn’t see a return to basics coming. We would more readily have predicted the return of the extra-large tote bag or the rise of cargo pants (both of which are trending for fall ’22, as well). There are always a few more minimalist styles topping our wishlists, but this year is all about wearing them all together, with little other adornment. It’s the very opposite of maximalist revenge dressing and, in our opinion, a bit harder to pull off.
The tricky thing about wearing only very straightforward, classic silhouettes is that fabric and fit become infinitely more important. With a bold print or fun embellishment, the eye can be tricked into thinking a dress fits better or is more expensive that the reality. But when you strip an item down to its simplest form, any imperfections become harder to hide. That’s not to say you have to splurge on cashmere or silk or designer brands to pull off this specific type of minimalism, you just have to become a more discerning shopper when trying on clothes. Pay attention to the fit, not just when you’re standing still in front of your mirror, but when you’ve taken a few steps around your home or dressing room too. Does your white tank start to ride up or bunch? What about those trousers? Are they slouching in the knees or creasing after just three minutes of wear? When you can, splurge for more luxe natural fabrics like organic cotton, wool, silk or cashmere. They’re pricier, yes, but they’ll also last you way longer than cheaper items. Pieces with a bit of stretch often work better on a wider variety of bodies, but avoid anything with too high a spandex percentage or it may end up looking cheap.
When done well, ‘90s minimalism looks super posh, and can even serve as a chic base for those who simply can’t stop accessorizing with shoulder-grazing earrings or kitschy platform sandals. And once you have these items in your closet, you can essentially mix and match then in any combination you like, making getting dressed in the morning mush less of a to-do. To help you on your quest to achieve the ultimate trendy basics fall wardrobe, here are eight pieces worth adding to cart.
Size range: 00 to 24, also Petite and Tall
Size range: 24 to 24
Size range: 12 to 24
Size range: XXS to XXXL
Size range: 0 to 18
Size range: XS to XXL