Defining Your Personal Style, Part Three: Using Your Inspiration

So! Now that we’ve discussed how to get a rough concept and figuring out what your wardrobe essentials are, we’re going to discuss what is the logical next step (to me, anyways!): using your inspiration. You should have had some time now to build up an inspiration folder or think about movies that inspire you. The block that I run into after this step is that sometimes it’s hard to translate a movie or photographic experience into an outfit. Case in point: Moulin Rouge. SUPER inspiring to me, visually, but not easy to translate into everyday wear. Most of us can’t walk around in corsets, garters + thigh highs all of the time, much as we’d like to! (or, well, I would like to anyways…) Training the eye to pick out details, bits and pieces, and put it together into an outfit that expresses that inspiration without merely copying it detail for detail - THAT is a valuable skill to have, yessiree. I’m going to try to show you how to do that with this post.

It seems pertinent here, so, a side note about looking “costumey” - I see warnings against this all the time. I say, costumey schmostumey! If it’s what you want to wear, WEAR IT, regardless of how over-the-top it is. That doesn’t mean copy a costume from a movie, because that usually doesn’t allow for any personal expression and that’s the reason we’re doing all this thinking and such in the first place, right? Right. On with the show!

First off - working from a photo. I think this is a little easier than a film, since you don’t have quite as much to draw from, so it’s not so incredibly overwhelming at first. Audi of Fashion for Nerds recently ran a contest based around creating an outfit from a photo; the results are definitely worth looking at to get an idea of how to do it!

Second - working from a film. I think this is a lot more challenging, because you have at least an hour’s worth of costuming, sets, makeup, and atmosphere to draw from; and the atmosphere is a HUGE part of it - which can be really hard to put in to outfit form.

In summary, you’re looking for a few things in particular:

  • Colors. One of the easiest things to notice is the palette of the film and this is a great place to start that won’t make your brain hurt. Notice what the main colors are, and the accents.
  • Actual costuming. The most obvious place to start by far - the problem is that you can end up looking like an extra on a film, instead of incorporating your personal style in to it. Still worth looking at, just be careful.
  • Textures - pretty self explanatory. Look for any standout textures - metallics, shine, matte, gloss, etc.
  • Atmosphere. Easily the hardest thing to get across with an outfit! A lot of this is because of the colors used in the film, so again, pay very close attention to that.
  • Any little details that catch your eye. It’s hard to say anything more detailed than that - you just know when you see it, some little tiny glimpse of an object in the background or a pair of shoes only on screen for 30 seconds (I spent a good six months being obsessed with the boots that River wears in Serenity, which are only on screen for maybe 45 seconds throughout the entire movie. Never did find a similar pair!).

On to the examples!

I picked two movies that I love which have amazing visuals - Coraline and Pan’s Labyrinth. I rewatched Pan’s Labyrinth to make sure I’d have a really good feel for it, but unfortunately can’t re-watch Coraline yet, since it doesn’t come out until JULY! Sigh. So I worked from memory (which should be pretty good, since I saw it three times in theatres!) and looking at stills/trailers online. Here’s what I came up with:

Pan’s Labyrinth

I’m going to start with the more challenging of the two. Pan’s Labyrinth was really hard for me to nail down, probably because the movie is a fairy tale but very dark; and most of the character’s wardrobes aren’t something that really sticks with you. The really breathtaking visuals are in the backgrounds and the more fantastical creatures, not so easy to convey in clothing. If you haven’t seen Pan’s Labyrinth, here’s the trailer:

Stills are kind of thin on the ground, but you can see a few and the promotional art at IMDB. And here’s what I came up with:

Alright. Let’s start with the accessories - I have no hard reasoning behind the pearl-esque wire-wrapped necklace, it just seems like it would fit with the visuals of the movie and I like it. The fairy necklace is pretty obvious, and the book is inspired by the book the faun gives her. Throughout the movie Ophelia is seen wearing a hair-bow more than once. The boots are a visual reference to the faun’s hoofed feet (and now I desperately want a lookalike pair, since there’s no way I can afford the original!). The coat is also in a similar style to Opelia’s, worn throughout the movie. Purple is the color of royalty, and the skirt is pinafore-esque without being overly so (and the color is close to the beaded necklace, anchoring it). I think this is pretty good; not a total success but close!

This was much easier for me - I’m not sure why. Maybe because Coraline is more stylised, being an animated film? Anyways. Here’s the trailer for Coraline:
The website is here (in case you missed it in my slightly obsessed ramblings a few months ago!), and you can see several stills here. Go ahead. Play around on the website a while. I’ll wait.
Okay. Now here’s the outfit I got:
The overall palette is pretty close to the Other World in Coraline - lots of jewel tones, with occasional pops of really bright colors (yellow, in this case), and lots of different textures to look at and be mesmerized by. Buttons play a big part in Coraline (all of the people in the Other World have buttons for eyes), and it’s always night there (the star earrings). The bracelet reminded me of the garden in the Other World. Coraline, of course, has blue hair! (okay - the wig might be going a bit too far if replicating this outfit in real life, but I couldn’t resist!) She also wears a yellow raincoat throughout most of the movie, and at one point has blue ankle boots on (I’ve also read suggestions before of matching hair to shoe color, so this is a doubly functioning item!). The Other Mother wears a lot of retro-inspired clothing, including a polka-dot skirt and top set at once point. I really love this set, although it might just be because I would wear it 100% as-is and love every minute of it. The yellow jacket and skirt are now on my wishlist, in fact.
If you HAVEN’T started a list of things that inspire you, I asked some of the people on my Twitter list what movies they found most inspiring and here are the results! (note: if there was more than one tweet, it is condensed into one, for reading ease)
_apricottea@declinedesigns check out my latest post, love. might answer that question. :] most of my favs. are in the post but The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is also good. Cloverfield has amazing cinematography
bonsoirbella@declinedesigns The Fall, The Cell, Moulin Rouge, Velvet Goldmine, Ma Vie En Rose, Legend, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, The Golden Compass, Sweeney Todd, Dune (Lynch version), The Fifth Element, Captain Whatever and the Sky blah blah. Zombie films! (seriously), old classics
ashemischief@DeclineDesigns @BonsoirBella Definitely Moulin Rouge, Labyrinth. I’d add Mirrormask, anything by Ingmar Bergamn (my dead lover), Amelie. You’ve totally opened a can of worms. Marie Antoinette, The Royal Tenebaums, The Prestige, Pan’s Labyrinth, Secretary… the New World, Vanity Fair, Picnic at Hanging Rock, 300, Across the Universe, the Spirit, 28 Days Later, CQ. Oh! The City of Lost Children. ANYTHING by Guillermo del Toro. He’s like my living film lover. the Orphanage, Hell Boy I & II are GORGEOUS.
PeachMcGee@declinedesigns Favourite modern film for costuming and general lifestyle envy is Gosford Park. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is gorgeous.
Lucalexa@declinedesigns My list: Contempt, Let the right one in, Mon oncle, Pan’s Labyrinth, Delicatessen
wicked_halo@declinedesigns you have to watch the fall, it’s like your eyes bulge out of their eyeballs of all the visual yummyness!

So! There is QUITE the list to start with (and believe you me, there were several movies mentioned that I haven’t seen, and they are now on my list!). It also goes without mentioning, but all of those gals? Fabulous + you should check ‘em out! :)

What do you think, dear readers? Anything I missed? If you have any film or photo inspired outfits, be sure to share them, because I would LOVE to see!!

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