2014: Make It Minimal

When looking back at both fashion and popular culture in the past year, one thing that really – rather ironically – stands out is the emerging trend of minimalism. From renowned British brand Reiss’ AW13 collection to the stripped back industrial sound of Kanye West’s number one record Yeezus, less truly proved to be more in 2013.

So, with a clean slate and a new year, why not incorporate this simple approach to style into your 2014 wardrobe?

We delve into what minimalism means, recent cultural influences to the emerging trend and how to refine your wardrobe for the new year to create a toned back yet effortlessly stylish look…

Modern Minimalism

We live in an age where almost everything is embellished and overcomplicated. Thanks to the internet we now have access to a constant stream of information which, in many ways, is a fantastic thing. But this information overload can also lead us to feel bombarded and confused at times, with endless social sites to communicate with one another on and so many options in terms of what to wear, watch and listen to.

This is why many people are deciding to embrace a minimalist approach to their lifestyle. We’re not telling you to throw everything away and go all Zen on us – although, we can see how this way of life could have its benefits – we’re talking about keeping it simple, which ultimately keeps things easy. This is a stress-free approach to life a lot of us guys strive for.

Minimalism branches out to all aspects of life, from the buildings around us to the way we portray ourselves both on and offline. It was interesting how The Guardian voted Kanye West’s latest album, Yeezus, as the best album of 2013 due to its sometimes bleak and often unlistenable tracks.

What the record has in abundance, though, is a minimal sound. It also had minimal promotion and stripped-back artwork and packaging; the American rapper opted for a clear, empty case revealing an unprinted CD with the record’s information subtly etched into the disc.

Kiwi singer/songwriter Lorde was another artist to take on a minimal sound in 2013 and garner huge success. In a recent interview she revealed how she likes to handle her online profiles, both on Facebook and Twitter, with a clean and simple approach.

Even global superstar Beyonce’s new record has been described by critics to have a minimal sound. This aural style complemented the record’s lack of promotion: the XO singer dropped the entire album at once last month with no prior radio airplay. What wasn’t so minimal were her sales, proving that we all can’t get enough of this simplicity.

Minimalism On The Runways

But how does all of this relate to menswear? Well, we all know that fashion trends are often influenced by the current cultural zeitgeist, so it’s no surprise that 2014 will see more and more minimalism in menswear.

Designers from Lanvin to Balenciaga stripped back their designs and presented us with minimal yet immaculate aesthetics in their SS14 collections:

Minimalism on Menswear Runways at Lanvin (Top), Rag & Bone (Middle) and Balenciaga (Bottom)

When it comes to everyday dressing, minimalism is all about reaching for quality basics and refining your wardrobe down to pieces that are simple yet stylish.

Ways To Wear: Minimalism

After 2011/12 saw menswear become acquainted with everything from prints and patterns to block-colours and pastels, it seemed like 2013 brought on a far more minimal menswear palette that was welcomed by many men.

Easier to wear and far less complicated than collections in previous seasons, this refined approach to style is set to continue throughout the new year.

From smart to casual, here are some ways to wear the trend, as well as inspiration to help apply the look to your wardrobe as a permanent style fixture – trust us, this one won’t go out of style any time soon.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Minimal Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

H&M Conscious Collection SS13Zara August 2012Zara Edition Spring 2013River Island AW13H&MAustin Reed x Nick Hart AW13AllSaints SS13AllSaints AW12Reiss AW13Zara Edition AW13De Fursac AW13Cerruti 1881 AW13
Minimal Look 1: Formal

Invest in a long and unfussy overcoat to keep your formal look minimal. Less detailing is more within this trend, so avoid exposed zips and feature buttons when choosing your garments.

This concealed placket mac from Reiss remains clean and classic while keeping the cold at bay; button it to the top over a crisp off-white shirt and a pair of woollen trousers for an uncomplicated and masculine look, perfect for the office.

Add a pair of black leather loafers to finish:

  • Paul Smith Jeans Oxford Shirt In Polka Dot Tailored FitPaul Smith Jeans Oxford Shirt In Polka Dot Tailored Fit
  • Reiss Curzon Concealed Placket Mac NavyReiss Curzon Concealed Placket Mac Navy
  • Reiss Broderick T Dogtooth Check Trousers BlueReiss Broderick T Dogtooth Check Trousers Blue
  • John Lobb Lopez Leather Penny LoafersJohn Lobb Lopez Leather Penny Loafers
Minimal Look 2: Off-Duty

Looking for an off-duty ensemble? Nail the minimal trend with a fine-knit roll neck; we’ve gone for this 100 per cent cotton option from ASOS in teal.

A single block-colour helps inject a shot of life and, when paired with monochrome, the aesthetic remains minimal. Go for grey chinos and bright white trainers, which are ideal for weekends sprinting around the sales this January:

  • Asos Long Sleeve T-shirt With Roll NeckAsos Long Sleeve T-shirt With Roll Neck
  • Topman Grey Vintage Slim Wool ChinosTopman Grey Vintage Slim Wool Chinos
  • Common Projects Original Achilles Leather Low Top SneakersCommon Projects Original Achilles Leather Low Top Sneakers
Minimal Look 3: Evening Wear

Off out for the evening? Take simplicity to the bar with this lightweight leather bomber jacket from AllSaints. Couple it with a slim-fit white shirt and skinny jeans for a sleek disco look.

In terms of accessorises? It might sound like an oxymoron, but metallics can be the perfect accompaniment to a minimal ensemble. Add some pared-back jewellery with this retro-inspired watch from American Apparel:

  • Uniqlo Men Easy Care Slim Fit Dobby Long Sleeve ShirtUniqlo Men Easy Care Slim Fit Dobby Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Reiss Tyler Lightweight Leather JacketReiss Tyler Lightweight Leather Jacket
  • Topman Indigo Overdyed Stretch Skinny JeansTopman Indigo Overdyed Stretch Skinny Jeans
  • American Apparel Philip Persio Silver & White Analog WatchAmerican Apparel Philip Persio Silver & White Analog Watch
Key Pieces
  • American Apparel Jumper With Roll NeckAmerican Apparel Jumper With Roll Neck
  • Asos Slim Fit Blazer In 100% WoolAsos Slim Fit Blazer In 100% Wool
  • Allsaints Mitaka V-neck JumperAllsaints Mitaka V-neck Jumper
  • Reiss Star Slim Fit Cotton Shirt WhiteReiss Star Slim Fit Cotton Shirt White
  • Topman Blue Flecked Herringbone Suit TrousersTopman Blue Flecked Herringbone Suit Trousers
  • He By Mango Birds Eye Suit TrousersHe By Mango Birds Eye Suit Trousers
  • Topman Blue Single Breasted Zip Trench CoatTopman Blue Single Breasted Zip Trench Coat
  • A.p.c. Cotton And Wool-blend Bomber JacketA.p.c. Cotton And Wool-blend Bomber Jacket
  • Paul Smith Loopback Cotton-jersey SweatshirtPaul Smith Loopback Cotton-jersey Sweatshirt
  • Reiss Jude Mercerised Cotton V-neck Jumper GreyReiss Jude Mercerised Cotton V-neck Jumper Grey
  • Acne Max Raw Straight-leg Jeans 173152Acne Max Raw Straight-leg Jeans 173152
  • He By Mango Leather Biker JacketHe By Mango Leather Biker Jacket
Final Word

We all know how complicated modern life can get. With smartphones, tablets, endless genres of music that pop up and constant fashion trends filling the high street – it can all start to make your head spin after a while.

However, it’s important to remember that modern technology can also allow things to become more streamlined and beautifully simple. We now have the option to download all our music, books and films digitally, ridding us of all the physical clutter that ultimately ends up gathering dust in our lofts.

The same can be said for fashion, which, if approached with the right mindset, can be equally as simple and effortless. Make 2014 the year you take a minimalist approach to your wardrobe. Once you’ve got your refined style nailed, you’ll be surprised how quickly all other aspects of your life begin to feel uncomplicated.

Make this the year you realise less really is more.