This post has nothing in common with my previous posts.
Normally, I am a massive proponent of layering – almost to the point of extrainity. I’ve always worn my sweaters with an OCBD underneath, a coat on top, and always an accessory to go.
Today I took a break from that.
The scenes for this shoot come from a trip I took with my photographer (Kate);to St. Louis’s IKEA, the Swedish furniture store known for their affordable build-your-own home goods and cheap meatballs.
. . .
In 1943, 17 year old Ingvar Kamprad founded a mail-order sales business,
a Swedish Sears, in Almhult, Sweden. He named his company IKEA, an acronym of the founder’s initials (IK), the farm on which he was raised (Elmtaryd) and his hometown (Agunnaryd). 5 years later, the first ready-to-assemble furniture was added to his catalog and thus the path to becoming the largest furniture store in the world began.
Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight published an article a year ago which studied “The Economics of IKEA’s catalog.” After reviewing IKEA catalogs from the 1980s through today, he came to the conclusion that in order for furniture to remain in the catalog for an extended period, its average price across the world had to decrease over time. Generally this was done by including sturdier parts, decreasing the shipping size, or selling more units.
With this philosophy of “less is more” behind their business, IKEA perfectly embodies the phrase, “Scandinavian minimalism.” A “trend” that has been been visibly dominating Northern European architecture, fashion, and interior design for the past decade, it’s difficult to call Scandinavian minimalism a trend when it permeates through the lifestyle of the region.
Arguably, the hints of minimalism extend all the way back to the 1970s and ‘80s, when the Cold War limited the availability of consumer goods and forced a minimalist lifestyle upon Europeans.
. . .
While minimalism has been a lifestyle in certain parts of the world for years now, it’s only just entered the mainstream in America. White sneakers, monochrome outfits, and invisible branding are all hallmarks of minimalistic fashion and it’s only since around 2014 have we seen American brands hopping on board.
In 2018 might see what some are calling “maximalism” as a counter trend to the minimalism which has been dominating fashion in recent years but it remains to be seen if that bump will grow into a full trend.
If you want to see what exactly maximalism looks like, Alessandro Michele’s fall/winter 2017 designs for Gucci are a great example.
The epitome of Scandinavian minimalism in fashion is the “capsule wardrobe.”
Definition: a set of clothes perfectly interchangeable due to their neutral, minimalistic design which usually number less than 10 total pieces. Last April, I built my own capsule wardrobe and for the entire month only wore those pieces.
Today’s outfit matches the same minimalist ethos as my capsule wardrobe challenge, and IKEA’s furniture. There is no layering, no accessorizing, and no bold shouts of color. An outfit built with no frills runs the risk of being extremely boring, so to avoid this I had to make sure that together the “boring” pieces came together to form a cohesive idea.
The way I did this is by focusing on having each piece fit perfectly and using light wash jeans (instead of my preferred black) to make my otherwise neutral, burgundy sweater to become the focus of the outfit. I would have preferred to have my white, leather sneakers instead of my canvas, moc toe boots as the footwear but the former are no longer with us having served their purpose.
Regardless, the trip to IKEA helped solidify the interior design I want one day to match my clothes. The inside of my future apartment needs to be LIT – for good photography opportunities of course.
The large windows allow for natural light to fill the room and illuminate the subject. Additionally, the brilliant lighting in this room makes it easy to see what “good fit” means for a sweater. The crew neck circles around my neck, no lower than my clavicle, and is small enough to hide the majority of my undershirt – which is black to blend in with the dark burgundy. It’s a bit tough to see above, but below you can tell the shoulder seams hit right where the shoulder bone ends/meets the bicep. If you can make sure those two measurements align (especially the latter), then your top will fit better than 3/4 of what most guys are wearing.
Those of you who’ve been keeping up with Optimal Oufits since last winter know this is my favorite and most worn sweater. I love it because of how great it fits and how the 100% wool composition insulates well against the winter cold.
Therefore, this winter I am looking to add another crew neck sweater to my rotation in order to extend the life of this one, so if anyone has any suggestions of brands/colors/designs they’re into, feel free to shout them out to me.
The sinks don’t work but the cupboard space is phenomenal, kind of like my jeans.
I bought these light wash jeans from ACNE Studios, a Stockholm-based fashion house formed in 1997. They were my first dip into European pants and have been quite the experience. I have a detailed post planned about my experience with them, so I won’t go too far in-depth now. Nevertheless, the number one thing I love about these jeans is how well they fit me. I’ve bought and jeans from ubiquitous mall brands and family-owned raw denim companies, both of which I’ve had positive experiences with. However, until I tried these on, I’ve never worn jeans that were actually skinny fit. That easily makes up for my biggest annoyance with them: the small pocket size.
So far most of these shots have excluded my footwear for two reasons. First, IKEA isn’t too hot on having up-and-coming, hotshot bloggers having photo shoots in their setups (which is a bit lame considering Kate did end up buying a birdhouse), so we had to use an iPhone camera instead of a DSLR meaning lower resolution and smaller frames. Second, my tan boots are the only footwear I feel works with these jeans apart from my white sneakers. Normally, this isn’t an issue except that the design of them is extremely American, deriving from the moccasins Native Americans wear.
The upper canvas which extends to the ankles is stitched in a U-shape around the lower portion of the sho. This is what is referred to in “moc toe” and what distinguishes moccasins from other shoes.
Moc toe boots are what heritage brands Redwing and Wolverine are famous for being the best in the business for. Their designs of this style are what actual lumberjacks, railroad engineers, and outdoorsmen used to wear in the early 20th century before they became hipsterized into niche coffee houses. Clearly, they don’t fit well with today’s aesthetic – or brands. I bought these boots in February 2014 from Sperry (just about one year before they hit peak popularity in my area), another heritage Americana brand known for their footwear, and they have been a great investment. Unfortunately, they don’t match my French sweater and Swedish jean’s aesthetic so they had to remain hidden. They’re also starting to fall apart after nearly 4 years of use, so I’ll be looking to find replacements soon.
Minimalism means I can’t essays when an article will suffice.
Now we can get to the part I think most people enjoy best: the B roll shots with no haughty nonsense. Before that however, I’d like to thank today’s photographer, Kate Wardenburg, for coming with me to IKEA and being extremely low key about her photo-taking. It would have been embarrassing to be walked out in the opposite direction as what the layout has planned, so I’m glad she helped us avoid that.
As for what we have coming next,
I recently placed a bid on a new shirt which if I win should arrive by mid January; I also placed an order for new Chelsea boots which will hopefully be here soon. Once they arrive, I have a post planned on how to wear the same outfit at two different price points: one for the broke college student, and one for the broke college student after receiving their first internship paycheck. The arrival date of my boots will determine when I can post the “two budgets, one look.” If I end up purchasing the shirt then I’ll have a post on designer fashion to break up the monotony of the “basic college wardrobe” pieces I usually post.
Finally, thank you to everyone who read or skimmed through to this point, I greatly appreciate all of you who do. Even the ones who just come for the pics, I love you too!
If you’ve been keeping up with Stranger Things 2 (which I’ve been trying to, but it hasn’t been going too well), then you definitely know who Hawkins, Indiana’s most available single mom is: Steve Harrington. I can definitely guarantee you this baby kitchen would help him keep his kids occupied for hours – at least until the next Demagorgen/Demodog/Shadow monster/whatever-the-hell thing the writers decide to create but not explain shows up. This model is a bit busy for my taste and I’d prefer to have a double oven set up, but since it is a starter kitchen I think I’d let it slide.