(Yes, that’s the Emerson Fry caftan again. I can’t get enough…)
I want to know! Where do you find sartorial inspiration? How do you translate looks you find inspiring to fit your personal style? Who inspires you? Do you look to women in your life for inspiration? or magazines/bloggers?
I’ve been thinking of this quite a lot lately, and have only raised more questions than I’ve answered. Truthfully, I’ve never really felt inspired by magazines, or style on others. Not exactly “inspired” anyway, I have a reaction more like, “oh, that’s cool, where can I buy it?”
But as I try to pinpoint exactly why I have admired the women’s style I have over the years, I notice a few of things:
The women are always older than I am, or very close in age
They look different than me (usually taller, thinner, and have long hair)
They don’t wear anything designer, recognizable, or trendy
They exude confidence, comfort, and style
They smile a lot
Whenever I think about personal style, and someone’s I’ve admired, I think back to a colleague/contact I had many many years ago (in my former career). Her style itself was nothing special – normcore, I guess – but I loved her bag. It was also nondescript, but looked as if she’d had it forever. She seemed to carry the same bag every day, as if it was a body part. Her bag was a part of her, and essential to her overall “look” – if you could call it that.
From that moment on, one of my sartorial goals was to find “the perfect” bag and carry it forever. I just loved the idea of having a bag, or something, that was so special, and so practical, that I’d never want another one. If you’ve been following along with my Minimal Closet posts, you probably know how I feel about striving for sartorial perfection – it doesn’t exist. Now I know that carrying one bag forever isn’t going to work for me – I love bags too much, and I like different styles of bags for different occasions.
But the idea is still important – I want to USE my things, and I want them to look like they’re loved, not like they’ve been kept in their dustbags more often than they’ve been out. So I try to have fewer, more meaningful things – things that I can use and love for many years.
Now, your turn:
Whose style do you admire?
Where do you find your inspiration?
What do you do with it when you find it?
How do you translate images or outfits on people you see into your life & personal style?
Whose style do you admire? I have to say, I admire Kate Middleton’s style. It’s classic and lady-like, but that’s her role in life .. I wouldn’t want to wear her style .. I just admire it from afar.
Where do you find your inspiration? Pintrest and Polyvore. There are a ton .. of talented people putting together fabulous, casual outfits on Polyvore.
What do you do with it when you find it? I’ll print out an outfit from Polyvore and see if I have a similar color palette.
How do you translate images or outfits on people you see into your life & personal style? I probably don’t do this, but if I see someone that has fabulous shoes .. I may say “Love your shoes” .. if I’m feeling brave that day.
MonicaP´s last blog post ..Embroidered tunic style top
For me, my aspirational style always goes back to 1980’s East Village New York—think black, Tama Janowitz, Converse, leather jackets, more black. My more recent update to it tends towards the French Fashion Editor look a la Emmanuelle Alt. Low-key, stylish, simple chic but not fussy.
I think it is partially because as a teenager, my ultimate goal in life was to move to NYC and be the editor of a fashion magazine. So that’s why I work for a software company in Silicon Valley now, ha ha ha 😉
Sharon Wright says
I was sitting in a cafe in Portugal 20 years ago wearing typical tourist clothing when a very elegant lady wearing chic black leather trousers, cashmere polo & black wedge boots with a fabulous expensive handbag & sunglasses perched atop her glossy dark hair sauntered by. I couldn’t wait to return home to emulate that look. More recently it’s the Madame chic look for me. I love to look classy & stylish with LBD, black boots in winter & silk tunic, white linen pants in summer. I love Clare house of cards style & even cut my long blonde hair into chin length bob as I loved her chic look. I’m happy I admire the more mature ladylike fashion as it helps me make my peace with the ageing process (I’m 48)
I don’t watch House of Cards but someone mentioned Clare’s wardrobe and I fell into the Interwebs rabbit hole of looking at her outfits….SO GOOD.
You know I want to dress like you:). But it looks bad on me:(. My other icons are also unattainable, Tilda Swinton. Patti Smith. So I have decided that icons are for very rough, metaphoric guidance – I take direction from my life instead.
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i get inspiration partly from looking at blogs and fashion sites and seeing what I like and what feels like “me.” But what that is exactly is hard to explain. I know I prefer pants to skirts. I love dresses but seldom wear them. I like to dress somewhat boyishly, although that doesn’t necessarily suit me. I admire a ladylike look, but don’t want to emulate one, really. I like to pull disparate elements together and link them. I like to mismatch patterns but not to look like a clown. I’m restrainedly bold. I have definite ideas about what goes together and what doesn’t. I depend a lot on my sense of color to make things work. I take what I see and filter it through all of the above and that’s what I wear.
Blakeley @ Wylde says
Whose style do you admire? & Where do you find your inspiration? — I had a friend in college whose style I always admired; she always seemed put together in a breezy, unaffected way. I’ve come to admire my mom’s style–does always dresses in slim, dark trousers and loose, elegant tops. It’s not really an aesthetic I look good in, but it looks great on her. Otherwise, I definitely have a mishmash of inspiration in my head from bloggers, TV shows (I love Lucy Liu’s wardrobe from Elementary–it’s all comfort-chic), and friends.
What do you do with it when you find it? — Occasionally I save images in a file, but I mainly keep ideas in my head. Pinterest stresses me out :). I like the idea of it, but every time I try to use it, I hate it.
How do you translate images or outfits on people you see into your life & personal style? — I adjust everything for my body type. Sometimes I love an outfit just because it looks so long and lean and fierce on a model. But, intellectually, I know it’s not going to look like that on me! I make adjustments to the style but keep the color palette, or vice versa.
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Great post – and not something I think about a lot, but maybe I should more often!
The Sixties are an endless source of inspiration – especially the “swinging London” scene. Everything from the supermodels of that era to street photography to the styling of the extras in movies like “Hard Day’s Night.” Inspiration for days and days in the film “Blow-Up.”
Women whose style I’ve admired over the years are mostly people I became interested in for reasons other than fashion. Many are musicians – rock chicks, if you will: Francoise Hardy, Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith, Kim Gordon, to name just a few. I’ve never tried to get away with emulating any of these amazing ladies, but I’ve soaked up their work and their looks so that it’s all become part of me. Maybe if I’m out shopping, I’ll see something that will jog a memory of a particular photo. Hmmm … What would Kim do with this piece? Something like that. Artists, too – Helen Frankenthaler and her huge, beautiful canvases that are an absolute riot of color. Ironically, I’m almost always wearing black and gray, but it’s the aesthetic that thrills me so much.
In the past, before mobile technology, I’d tear out photos I loved and put them in a notebook or on a corkboard. I still have a lot of the books that I put together and will leaf through them occasionally. Now I have so little time for blogs or magazines … I’m sure there’s so much great stuff out there that’s waiting to be discovered, but I have neither the time nor the patience, sadly. Pinterest? Great idea, but I find it kind of frustrating and overwhelming. One of these days I’ll get my you-know-what together on that. 😉
I can’t think of any one person who inspires me fashion-wise, although throughout my life I’ve always admired women who were able to look good without a huge amount of clothing– they would wear things repeatedly, but most people didn’t notice it, they just noticed that this person always looked put together and stylish. The look was minimalist but not severe.
Over the years I’ve figured out that the key to this type of look is to wear high-quality, good fabrics, etc. and keep things in good condition. Use few colors, and to make good use of accessories.
As for myself, I’m still not quite there: I have a tendency to shop for the sake of shopping, and so I end up with a bunch of cheap odds & ends that don’t really fit in to my vision of a great wardrobe. I’m working on it though. I’ve found that tracking my spending makes me more aware of “good” shopping vs. wasteful shopping.
I’ve always been drawn to a ballerina aesthetic, a combination of fitted pieces and flowing pieces. I translate that to my own wardrobe as close-fitting tees and skinny pants, flowing scarves or cardigans, and soft leather shoes. I wear a lot of black (mostly black, actually). I also love the Art Nouveau period and I use that as an inspiration for choosing jewelry and scarf patterns.
I like Pinterest for finding images. I like that I can search for “ballerina inspired fashion” and it will show me a page full of clothes that I might like. (However, I must say there are way too many tutu-inspired skirts on Pinterest! )
I really admire Lucy Liu’s wardrobe as Dr. Joan Watson on “Elementary.” Very cool, avant-garde and simple. Cate Blanchett for her uncommon daring combos on the red carpet. Also, Jenna Lyons for a super-cool mix, and the French “Voguettes” for everyday, wearable style (minus the heels!).
Honestly, this is not a suck-up, but I do find that you’re one of the few bloggers I can count on to understand what I want in clothes! Also, Sophie at Les anti-moderne. Pinterest and Instagram supply me with endless inspiration, too: @ageofminimalism, @kaffeeundtea, @theyallhateus, @CO_DE+FO_RM, and the Tumbler account @death-by-elocution….LOTS of great images!!!
I pin like crazy and then, when I scan through my boards periodically, it becomes very clear to me which styles I am perusing at any given time. Right now, simplicity rules, but I can’t say it’ll stay that way. And sometimes, it’s as simple as spotting a great look on the street and thinking, “I want to try that!”
Blakey @ Wylde: I didn’t see that you posted about Lucy Liu’s great wardrobe on “Elementary,” but I agree wholeheartedly!
Also, Polyvore, like Monica stated.
Long before the Internet, I found style inspiration in books. Romance novels! Doesn’t always translate to how I actually dress, of course, but what has stuck with me the most was the advice given to the protagonist in Judith Krantz’ Scruples – a slightly overweight girl went to Paris for a year to study at university and lived with a very stylish French woman and absorbed the style dictates from her – one good scarf and well-fitting simple clothing and you will always look stylish & appropriate. Which could explain why I’ve been obsessed with scarves sine, oh, 1986 😉 I read blogs, catalogs, magazine (fashion or decor) but my style is very most of the time – much of the time modeled on the Hepburns, Katharine or Audrey 🙂 Yep, old movies play into my fashion sense as well. The places I’ve lived have rubbed off on me – I’ll always be a preppy from 1980s Connecticut, but I don’t have to dress like that all the time.
Sadly, I’ve always loved clothing & styles on women I *know* I can’t wear on myself (for years I wanted to look like Helen Hunt, or PIper Perabo (esp her wardrobe in Covert Affairs) but I have the complete opposite body type) So I can admire lots of styles but know intellectually they won’t work on me.
Since middle-school ; “street style” ! The real one, I have always loved people watching, and seeing how other girls were dressing around me has always been my inspiration… Having moved from Paris to California suburbia, blogs like yours fill the void nowadays 🙂
Thank you! I just adore her style as Watson :). I covet all her clothes and boots every single episode.
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