Stylish or kitschy? How to walk the tightrope between boldness and tackiness

In the ever-evolving landscape of fashion, it seems implausible to walk a tightrope between boldness and tackiness

The boundary between bold and kitschy is as elusive as it is intriguing. Self-expression through clothing allows individuals to push the boundaries, flirt with eclecticism and challenge conventions. However, treading the fine line between making a fashion statement and slipping into incongruity requires delicate balance and a keen eye for detail.

In an era when fashion icons and influencers continually push the envelope, defining where boldness ends and tackiness begins becomes subjective. For some, sporting vibrant prints, clashing colours and avant-garde designs exude confidence and originality. Yet, for others, such choices teeter on the brink of misplaced flamboyance.

One might argue that the secret lies in mastering the art of subtlety within such extravagance. Mixing bold pieces with classic staples or utilising statement accessories to punctuate an outfit can save a look from being an abomination and elevate it as an avant-garde pair-up. Stylists often emphasise the importance of balance. Simply put, when one aspect of an ensemble is striking, the rest should be muted to prevent an overload of visual information.

Versace Pre-Fall 2024. Photo by Versace

On the runway, however, these principles are thrown out the window. Brands such as Versace and Moschino, for instance, are known for daring, boundary-pushing collections that often tread on the edges of kitsch, incorporating unconventional elements with a playful twist. To these fashion houses, more is more.

Even classic brands such as Gucci have been known to embrace maximalism. The Italian luxury fashion house toes the line between audaciousness and kitsch, juxtaposing clashing patterns, vivid colours and vintage-inspired silhouettes, creating a distinct and polarising aesthetic. Gucci’s runway shows have become emblematic of this bold approach. Collections feature ornate embroidery, extravagant accessories and unexpected combinations that simultaneously captivate and challenge traditional sensibilities.

Moschino Fall 2023. Photo by Moschino

Despite the apparent capriciousness of these brands, their calculated embrace of eccentricity has resonated with a new generation of fashion enthusiasts, redefining the parameters of bold sartorial choices. This further underscores the notion of fashion as an art form. What one perceives as garish, another might applaud as freedom of expression. Ultimately, the ceiling to dressing boldly is limited only by the individual’s confidence, personal style and the ability to navigate the fine line between self-expression and sartorial excess. After all, the world of fashion is a playground where rules are meant to be bent—if not entirely broken.

This story first appeared in the March 2024 issue. Purchase it as a print or digital copy, or consider subscribing to us here