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Small is beautiful: how fashion embraced the micro update

Forget a basket bag or a baseball cap. The accessory you actually need this summer is a magnifying glass. No, not because of any preoccupation with turning into a sleuth, but because the trends that matter right now are so teeny tiny microscopic that you will require a magnifying glass to see them.


A photo posted by King Kylie (@kyliejenner) on May 1, 2016 at 3:54pm PDT

Take tattoos. Once, it was all about Cheryl Cole’s the-bigger-the-better theory; now celebs are channeling the Phoebe Buffay approachand going tiny. OK, so these tattoos are more than just specks, but still. Both Zayn Malik and Kylie Jenner are in the tiny tattoos school. Jenner’s got four, including two squiggles on the inside of her little fingers, while Malik’s teeny weeny light sabre – complete with UV – on the inside of his middle finger broke the internet last month. And that massive tattoo on his forehead in March? Totally a fake, obvs. As if he’d go big with a tat these days.

May the force be with you @zayn #uvink #starwars #jonboytattoo

A photo posted by c/s Jon Boy p/v (@jonboytattoo) on Jul 14, 2016 at 4:03pm PDT

It’s not just body art that is shrinking – it’s a trend across fashion, partly as a kick-back against the oversized, look-at-me style (see: fashion bloggers) and partly, surely, because we now live – or view, anyway – much of our lives through a 66mm x 68mm square of an Instagram post. Other examples of mini include the genius JW Anderson campaign with the image of a model in his clothes reduced to the size of a postage stamp (20mm x 24mm since you ask). Anderson, always one for taking an idea to its logical conclusion, then sold actual stamps with the image.

An Itchy Scratchy Patchy patch, exactly the right size for a back pocket. Photograph: PR

Then there is the recent popularity of patches, with a patch convention currently taking place in New York. Gucci slap them all over jeans, jackets and bags, but these work for those without three-figure budgets too. Model Edie Campbell set up Itchy Scratchy Patchy with her friend, the artist Christabel MacGreevy, last year, and their patches – of mushrooms, snakes and sumo wrestlers – are the fashion-insider choice. They start at £14.95 for a sumo hug and, measuring at 90mm x 90mm, tick the tiny box, and look great on the back pocket of a pair of high-waisted jeans (or they do on Campbell anyway).

Orlando Bloom – and his Tamagotchi – at the Met Ball in May. Photograph: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for People.com

The classic site of tiny fashion statements is the brooch. Orlando Bloom’s Tamagotchi on the lapel of his jacket at the Met Ball in May was a pre-Pokémon Go nostalgia trip back to 90s Japanese toys, and Rita Ora’s Not Becky badge was her riposte to rumours. But it’s actually Madeleine Albright that really slayed the small trend. The politician always wears a brooch – or “pin” in US parlance – and her twitter bio describes herself as “bizwoman, pin collector occasional drummer”.

— Madeleine Albright (@madeleine)
July 28, 2016

After tonight, this pin will be the only piece of glass ceiling left at #DNCinPHL! #tweetmypins #ImWithHer pic.twitter.com/sm5UUQiVw4

The clinching moment that made her 100% our favourite person was at the Democratic National Convention last week, when Albright stated her endorsement of Hillary Clinton in brooch form: or a piece of glass ceiling with Hillary in gold above it. She explained more on Twitter: “After tonight, this pin will be the only piece of glass ceiling left.” Sometimes – right now, in fact – its the smallest statements that have the most power in fashion. Just remember that magnifying glass.

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