Being a stringent planner is not my strong suit. Unless it's a vacation—in that case, I'm usually the first to book the tickets and the hotel—I can be a reluctant procrastinator. What I do meticulously plan, though, is my summer wardrobe. There's something about the start of the warm weather that gets my sartorial juices flowing and really motivates me to take charge and put in some effort. When I plan my summer looks, it goes a little something like this: I browse for images that make me feel inspired and then use that to mood-board a whole vibe I have in mind for the summer.
This season, I'm hopelessly stuck on Helmut Lang and vintage Maison Margiela. Recently, I found myself looking over archival runway images and fashion campaigns from the '90s and couldn't believe how much of both designers' fashions are still relevant right now. The two brands were instrumental in shaping the edgy, '90s cool-girl aesthetic that so many brands today source as their inspiration. Needless to say, it's proven timeless.
If this doesn't ring a bell for you, here's a visualization: relaxed trousers and slightly trendy skin-revealing tops in neutral, muted shades. It's a whole lot of black, white, and creamy beige tones and a whole lot of cool. The key to nailing down this look is wearing pieces that are uncomplicated yet interesting; they appear simple on the surface, but there's always a detail or two to catch the eye. Below, I'm breaking down my extensive shopping list by category to show you how I'm capturing the Margiela-Helmut vibe this summer.
Solid basics are critical to any wardrobe, but in this case, they are essential. Take a look at any Helmut Lang show from the '90s, and you'll discover the overall simplicity behind each outfit. But in true fashion, there's always a subversive twist—whether it be the silhouette, styling, or construction. In terms of palettes, neutrals reigned supreme for both Margiela and Helmut Lang during this era, so when re-creating, you'll want to stick to black and white separates. Not everything was a stark palette of black and white, though: Both designers were known to throw in a soft shade of blue or green for good measure.
A Helmut or Margiela girl simply does not wear any old jacket—she wears structured blazers. Margiela blazers have run the design gamut from complex and deconstructed to understated menswear-inspired tailoring. One thing remains the same, though: They should be oversize and boxy.
Before tie-tops and barely there bralettes took over our feeds this year, they were major hallmarks of both designers' collections. Unexpected cutouts, one-shoulder tops, and, of course, anything layered to the max especially feel true to the downtown vibe. For extra dimension, I plan on playing around with sheer and tulle tops to layer over basic T-shirts.
Baggy trousers are a defining part of what made Helmut Lang cool. They went against the ultra-tight, figure-hugging silhouettes that were popular at the time and felt attractively rebellious. It so happens that loose pants are also trending heavily right now, so thankfully they're easy to find at several price points. I've also noticed Margiela liked to experiment with a few saturated colors on the runway, so I'm into the idea of bright leather pants to wear on cooler days. Style them with a racerback tee or any of the above layered tops for a no-brainer 'fit.
In contrast, clingy midi skirts were also a big part of the Margiela-Helmut universe, so I'm going for fitted, sleek versions in an array of neutrals.
We simply cannot talk about Maison Margiela without mentioning the designer's iconic shoes, the Tabi. Decades later, the split-toe silhouette is still a fashion-crowd staple and has been updated by the brand in a number of new styles and shapes, such as its latest sneaker collaboration with Reebok. I recently bought a pair of Tabi ballet flats and have not regretted it one bit.
Another essential style to shop in order to capture the cool-girl vibe is the naked sandal. Think strappy, minimalistic shoes at a moderate heel height that are versatile enough to throw together with any outfit without much sartorial guesswork.
While both brands prominently featured pants and skirts within their collections, they also knew how to create a damn good dress. Slip dresses are a quintessential style of the '90s, so of course, I have a few already in my cart. I love oscillating between options that are more revealing and more covered-up, so I've been shopping for dresses that feature big cutouts as well as ones that incorporate high necklines at midi lengths.