When I saw this gorgeous floral blouse I knew I had to make an outfit with it. Aren’t the colours and pattern fantastic?
I’m often asked where my outfit inspiration comes from.
No, I’m never asked that.
But I am asked where I get all of my creative ideas from and I’m often complimented on my outfits. Mush those two together and you get…
My Top Outfit Inspiration Resources
1. A Piece Of Clothing
Often when I create an outfit I’m inspired by one item. This time it was the blouse. I find that when I’m building an outfit this is often the case. I start with one item and build around it.
2. The Occasion
Sometimes you gotta be practical. This is especially true if I need to walk all day or be on my feet for a long period of time. I’ll start with a comfortable pair of shoes and build the outfit around them based on the occasion. Momma gets real cranky when her feet hurt.
3. Shopping Used
Another way I’m inspired is by shopping at thrift, vintage and consignment stores. They always carry such unique, bizarre, wild and crazy items. Items I would never normally choose myself or look at twice in a regular store. Looking at pieces that are all one-of-a-kind is like having a full artist’s set of paints, chalks, pencils and crayons instead of shopping in a regular store where they only offer limited styles essentially only providing you with a pencil to be creative. Personally I like having more to play with. Some people find it overwhelming, but I find it exhilarating and challenging. I make sure my creative hat is fastened tightly when I’m thrifting. You need to have an open mind and be willing to try out new things. That is the basis of being creative. Remember when you were a kid and played Barbies and would stick any old skirt on top of a dress that the Barbie was already wearing? Yeah. That is because you were playing. It didn’t matter. To create an interesting outfit you need to go back and play like a kid. Only this time you’re the Barbie. Don’t get stuck on preconceived ideas. Try. I call this adult play and it is the best way to stimulate and exercise your creative styling muscles.
4. Store Displays
My favourite shop for this would be Anthropologie. Merchandisers and visual display artists are very skilled at putting together awesome outfits. I’ll sometimes take photos of the displays for future reference.
5. Fashion Blogs
Sometimes fashion bloggers get their ideas by visiting sites like Lookbook.nu and Chictopia, although I do find that they both skew quite young. Of course you can just search fashion blogs and come up with oh…a few million places to look for style inspiration. Street style blogs like The Satorialist or Advanced Style are also interesting to visit.
Some people turn to Pinterest which is essentially a digital curated style board. I have a large “Fall Into Fashion” board where I collect pieces and outfits I love or ensembles I create. You can follow along and if you are stuck one day it might give you some ideas.
7. Fashion Magazines & Shows
Of course there are the fashion magazines and runway shows where large teams of creative forces come together to create memorable editorial quality outfits. Although stunning to look at, I often find they don’t translate well for the average size person. That said, you can often still take some details from their creations and work them into your personal style. That is what “inspiration” is all about after all.
8. Movies & TV Series
Films & TV are a great resource for outfit inspiration. Often times after watching a series I become slightly obsessed with the clothing in the show. Ah… hello Mad Men!
They pay big bucks for stylists to be on top of the trends and dress them to turn heads every time they leave their house. No reason you can’t vicariously profit from their hard spent cash. Besides…they have too much of it anyhow! No need to spend the big bucks on the top brands, you can often find similar items in a lower price point or at secondhand shops.
10. Art & Nature
Art and nature can also inspire. Pay attention to textures and colours and how they are combined in nature. Unique colourful contrasts and combinations are standard for Mother Nature, the Queen of all creativity. Designers use this trick all the time.
Visiting museums, galleries and art exhibits are wonderful hot spots for fashion and style ideas. It isn’t about replicating what you see, rather about interpreting the lines, the colours or the feeling the artwork incites within you.
11. Super Secret Hot Tip!
Home Decor & Fabric Stores
The next time you’re flipping through a home decor magazine or at your local Home Depot check out the wallpaper and paint aisles. Paint chips and professionally decorated rooms are an easy way of seeing which colours and patterns work well together. You know those cards where the paint company has combined about 4 different coloured paint chips into one room? Yeah….those are perfect for creating outfits too! Take a bunch of those the next time you’re in there. Punch holes in the corner of the cards and attach them together with a binder ring so they become a little colour booklet. They are free and will be your secret power source for styling like a pro.
Don’t leave without checking out the wallpaper aisle! The fabric on this blouse could have easily been a wallpaper pattern. In fact, did you know that illustrators or artists who created the patterns will often license and sell them to be made into wallpaper and fabric? True story.
If you keep your eyes wide open to all the details in the every day I’m sure you will also discover some details that inspire and ignite your creative juices.
Where do you get your inspiration for creating outfits?
Me, too! I use all the same sources except the last one. Home décor stores/mags are a new idea to me. Makes sense though. Good, smart post.
Great post, Suzanne. I hadn’t been following your Fall Into Fashion board, but I remedied that – it’s fab.
Val S says
I like the thought of being Barbie (the old style one), but my clothes aren’t as cool as hers. I’m always looking at outfits around me, and that makes me think outside the box. Right now I’m just coveting that teal jacket and shoes!
two birds says
These are all great places. My problem is I look in Pinterest and suddenly have to have ALL of it! Yes, I know I have a problem.
Tiina L says
Great ideas, a very interesting post. It’s always fascinating to see where other people get their inspiration. I also often build a look around one single item (usually a bag, sometimes sunglasses even…) and I’ve been known to fall madly in love with an item and then have to hunt down other items to go with it. I try not to do that anymore, but try to find items that go with what I already have. It makes more sense on so many levels… And then I find something that I just must have, whether it makes sense or not, again….
Kristina C says
This is a very helpful post! There’s quite a few suggestions I haven’t thought of before for finding inspiration. I usually look for it in magazines, fashion blogs and movies/tv series. I’m really digging Elizabeth’s from The Americans closet at the moment. I just bought a few vintage skirts and a new trench coat to recreate a similar look.
You know, I am coming to the conclusion that I am pretty lazy and stuck in my ways, since I rarely seek out sources of inspiration like these! I think I am inspired by fellow bloggers in terms of colour combinations, and a shared love of making a statement and being unafraid to stand out. But I know that much of the time, I couldn’t and wouldn’t try to recreate another blogger’s look because what works for them might not work for me. I don’t read fashion magazines, shop on the high street or online, or look at Pinterest, so it seems I create my outfits in a vacuum, my own odd little bubble! Colours and textures from pieces I own are often a starting point, and of course I spend a LOT of time in charity shops, rummaging through the weird, the awful and the wonderful items on offer!
Always interesting to read your thoughts and ideas, Suzanne! xxx
Lovely set! Especially like the blazer and handbag. I get inspiration from lots of sources, cultures and even time periods. I like looking at styles from long ago and seeing how something similar might still work today (waistcoats and petticoats anyone?!). I like pieces inspired by different cultures – flowing Bedioun or Indian type layers and robes, Russian steppes embroidery, African head wraps, etc. I dress a bit different so I don’t really see much of my kind of style out and about in stores that inspires me. Except for my hat designer in Carouge, Switzerland – Zabo, now she inspires me. For inspirations from others I prefer Pinterest and a select few fashion blogs (such as your own). I never, EVER get a darn thing from fashion magazines. Can’t stand them and never look at them.
I’d wear that wallpaper top in a flash! Great list, Suzanne. I don’t check out boards or lists or anything but am usually just struck on the spot by something in a thrift shop. I do, however, stroll through our downtown Holt Renfrew from time to time to get a fabric/colour/pattern/price jolt. It makes me weep seeing see the bland shoppers with bulging shopping bags roam the racks and racks of screamingly wild patterns and colours and not batting an eye. I once asked a salesclerk if they actually SOLD anything. What could possibly be in those bags?
Great ideas! the denim skirt is gorgeous and a vivid print makes me drool (it’s ok, I have a tissue) I really like charity shops, I particularly love finding those pieces that are so unique and beautiful – I found a hat the other day, although it’s red, I immediately thought of you and your amazing straw hat I always gush over, it’s my ‘Suzanne’ inspired hat, I love it! I do adore Pinterest though, I can lose time on that site x x x
Happiness at Mid Life says
I often take pictures of mannequins when I am shopping to try an recreate an outfit. I do a lot of ideas of pairing my clothes from all the fashion blogs that I follow.
I love reading how you create an outfit and the inspiration behind it.
Other that the Guardian weekend fashion pages (which I usually snort at derisively) I don’t read fashion or celeb mags, I’m not on Pinterest and don’t go into retail shops or visit their websites.
My clothes are things I’ve fallen in love with in charity & vintage shops and have been within my budget.
How an outfit comes together is by accident rather than by design. I put something on and add the footwear and coat most suitable for the weather conditions and my planned activities. Boring but true! xxx
Sadly these days I seem to be choosing my outfits based on comfort. Not always the best choice. I do like to look on Pinterest, and I always get good ideas from my favorite style bloggers. You’re at the top of the list! Great ideas here!
A helpful post. I use pinterest, blogs and polyvore for inspiration a lot, but these are some great new ways to think of new outfits (especially good as I’ve felt in a rut lately!)
No Fear of Fashion says
I get my inspiration from shopping (bad I know).. and shopping (triple bad). And from shop assistents and from friends and from my husband. Not many times from me… LOL
That blouse! What an inspiring piece! The palette is so fresh and could skew spring or fall depending on how you style it. I love florals and patterns that are seasonally ambiguous in that way. It makes them more versatile! I enjoyed reading about your sources of inspiration. I’m definitely inspired by home decor shops as well, particularly vintage and shabby chic items. Like you, I often start with one item that particularly inspires me and then build around it.