Minimalism has its appeal: it can be a wardrobe reset, relieve the stress of getting done-up, and can deliver some peace of mind to the day-to-day hustle of life by making the decision of what to wear a bit easier.
But for some, keeping it simple is more of a demand than a respite. What to do if every fiber of your fashionable being is telling you not to tone it down?
Enter Gemma Sherlock, a.k.a. The Scarlet Bob, a queen of maximalism.
Sherlock is a native of Ireland living in Brooklyn, and a fashion creative who uses her blog to show her work in styling, creative direction and writing. Voted “Most Likely To Be Dripping With Sequins” in high school (probably), she is a pop-art explosion who turns her nose up at demureness.
Being a wallflower is not her bag–and her literal bag, if she happens to be sporting one, will speak to this–but her rejection of norm-core isn’t done just for the sake of shock value.
Sherlock’s style is her weapon of choice against what she sees as a monolithic fashion landscape, where risks are rarely taken and narrow standards of beauty are hiding just below the “new” surface of the same old, same old. Sherlock calls this phenomenon “Generalized Fashion Fatigue,” and she’s injecting all her technicolor duds, studs and bright red hair dye into the world to try to end it.
In creating her look, Sherlock finds inspiration in fellow fashion rebels Baddie Winkle, Iris Apfel, and Anna Dello Russo, three women whose style goes against the various pressures to conform in the fashion world.
“[Winkle and Apfel] demonstrate that as a woman, once you’ve exited the revered phase of ‘youth’, you don’t become irrelevant,” Sherlock said. “There is both beauty and inspiration to be found in ageing…[Anna Dello Russo] wears what she wants and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks because she feels empowered by her fashion choices…in a world saturated with safe fashion, I think we need to see more of this confidence in having a unique style and send a message to people young and old that it’s okay to be individual and dress differently. You don’t have to ‘fit in’.”
Like the wardrobes of her fashion favorites, Sherlock’s style is a kind of visual megaphone she uses to speak up for herself and her freedom to choose. The fact that she is unusual gives interesting insight into our society’s attitudes toward women who choose to exist loudly: it may not get you burned at the stake anymore, but it is still not comfortable to experience a bold woman.
It’s this connection that turns fashion political, and explains why Sherlock was inspired to use her dress to express her anger with the current administration’s treatment of female citizens during an Anti-Trump protest.
“In response to President Trump’s flagrant disrespect of women and our equal standing in society – evidenced not only his historical documented behavior but also the action he has taken since stepping in to power – having not had the opportunity to vote in the recent election, I felt compelled to take action and exercise my right to protest against sexism and a misogynistic administration,” Sherlock said. “The purpose of my participation in the march was to show that it’s not okay to think or behave like that and that women will not stand for it. My outfit (again by my Queens at Discount Universe) was instrumental in making that statement and communicating the message – Pussy Bites Back.”
There is no right way to do fashion, and opting for a nude ballet flat instead of a Moschino platform heel doesn’t make you a bad person. But it’s important to ask yourself who you are dressing for, and to take your time when thinking about the answer.