Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

What is Maximalism?

First things first, maximalism, a term recently popularized on TikTok, generally follows the idea that “more is more” when it comes to style curation. Characterized by lots of accessories, mixed patterns, and funky statement pieces, maximalism offers a departure from and a direct response to minimalism, (as seen in trends like “clean girls”), which focus on minimal makeup, neutral tones, and the idea that “less is more.” Think of Coco Chanel’s famous quote: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” 

Maximalists, by contrast, tend to invert that rule and then some, adding several more accessories or an extra layer to finish off a look. There is a large emphasis on color, seemingly clashing patterns and textures, as well as over-the-top layering and filling of empty space. Maximalist rooms typically feature several statement pieces of furniture or decor, surrounded by a large and curated collection of items that are personalized to that individual. 

The roots of this style actually date back to 16th century cabinets of curiosity, which were intricately curated displays of items and knick knacks that showed off their creators personal taste. Over time, items within the cabinets spilled over into the rooms they occupied. Similarly, modern maximalists use their eclectic personal style to decorate their living spaces, as well as express themselves with unique and highly personalized outfits. 

Dressing “Maximally”

For the typical college student, maximalism on TikTok may seem like a somewhat unattainable style. Many style influencers spend a large amount of time, energy, and money curating massive wardrobes of funky, impractical outfits (check out TikToker @saracamps for a good idea of what more extreme maximalism looks like). However, with colder weather approaching and maximalism at its core being largely about layering in all forms, now is the perfect time for interested individuals to start experimenting. There’s no one right way to be a maximalist other than making the most of the items in your closet and having fun!

Accessorize to the Gods

One of the easiest ways to attain a maximalist look is by accessorizing (a LOT). Adding layered necklaces, chunky earrings, rings, hats, or other accessory items, often all together, is the easiest way to bring a simple outfit up to a busier and more personal look. Everyone’s comfort level is slightly different (too much jewelry can be downright overstimulating for some), so picking a few items that play into either the primary or complementary colors of a look is a great place to start. 


Layering is a huge element of maximalism and a way to think about your entire outfit as a whole when planning it out. For example, think of a base layer, an overlayer, where you want your statement pieces to be, and how the whole look should flow. If two pieces in your wardrobe don’t immediately seem to match, picture the ways in which they might be tied together in more ways than just color. Start with the most unique item and try building an outfit around it, with at least a few more functional pieces to balance it out if you’re going for a more everyday look. Functional layering pieces are also a great way to stay warm (and fashionable) during the colder months. For fall, try outer layers like jackets and flannels together, taller socks for a funky flair, or even a unique hat. 

Thrifting Is a Lifesaver! 

Especially for college students with somewhat limited time and space, finding new ways to pair items you already have or items you wear a lot every day, is a good jumping off point for budding maximalists. Taking a trip to the thrift store is a great way to start collecting, both for home decoration and fun pieces to add when building your wardrobe. Look for unexpected, unique items that speak to you, depending on how functional you want your outfits to be. Thrift stores often have jewelry, pins, and other small accessories, so take the time to look through these for the occasional gem. Maximalism is not just about a hot new style item! 

Wear What Feels Like You, and Be Bold!

The most important piece of maximalism is dressing like you! It is hard to perfectly replicate a maximalist look because every piece was selected as a piece of the whole outfit, with many pieces selected to play off of each other. Don’t be afraid to break some fashion rules, such as mixing metals, textures, and patterns. If a combination speaks to you, try it on! 

However you decide to style yourself this fall, taking inspiration from the maximalist aesthetic is a great way to improve your style and improve the personalization of your style. It’s a great way to start thinking about and wearing clothes that feel like you. 

Alexis is currently a junior studying human biology at MSU. They enjoy longboarding, crochet, and experimenting with fashion when they aren't studying organic chemistry!