Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Everyone Hail to the Pumpkin Song

Halloween is definitely my favorite holiday, like so many other people out there! I’m a bit late to the game with this post, but there’s still plenty of time to come up with a kick-ass costume. Want some ideas? Here’s my three favorite costume ideas for this year:

I love the idea of a female V costume. Sleek black dress, boots, gloves, etc. It’s not as far fetched as it may seem, as in the original graphic novel Evie took up the mantle & the costume after the original V died. Cons: Having to wear a mask all night. In fact, that’s the only thing that made me decide not to do it!

I’m sure Alice in Wonderland costumes will be a big thing this year, with the release of the new Tim Burton film in March. Do a little twist on the idea by making the Queen of Hearts into a flapper! Even curvy girls can wear a flapper dress, although I’d stay away from drop-waisted dresses and just go with a sleek dress that has some fringe along the skirt. Cons: The only real con I can think of is wearing heels while walking all night & possibly drinking, but put some ball of foot inserts in and you’ll be fine!

This idea came about when Ashe mentioned on Twitter that her friend was going as Coraline. The Other Mother! Perfect opportunity to wear retro inspired clothing with a dark twist. Do red or black red lips & fingertips, a pair of black heels, and exaggerated shapes (one of the items she wears in the movie is a bustled polka dot pencil skirt, which I imagine would look fab, but couldn’t find one. DIY project, mayhaps?). She wears several different outfits in the movie, so you could do anything from something like this, to a pair of black capris with red flats and a cream sweater. The trickiest part would be the button eyes – I think a suitable solution would be getting round sunglasses & painting button holes on them. Cons: Having to wear sunglasses all night. Totally worth it, though, because you know anyone who recognized you would be worth talking to!

I will definitely be doing the Other Mother costume & maybe the Queen of Hearts costume, if I find a reason to wear two different costumes. All that means is I have to find some place to go to Friday and Saturday nights!

Need some more ideas? Check out Ashe Mischief’s two Halloween posts, Retro Chick’s suggestions, and Jennine’s ideas on costumes from your closet. In between all of these ideas, you’re sure to look great and have a good time on the best night of the year!

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10 More Places + Ways to Find Inspiration

After posting in the personal style series about finding inspiration, I thought I’d make another list of wacky and not-so-wacky ways to find inspiration:

  • Books! Pretty obvious, I’ll give you. Coffee table books – maybe one on a subculture? Orrr vintage fashions? Rock posters? Or of course; there’s always fiction. Alice in Wonderland is a terrific example of a fictional work that’s been used countless times for inspiration. Think of your favorite fantasy heroine – what would she wear?
  • Tarot cards. Seriously, check out Aeclectic, the artwork on some of them is fabulous! What would the Queen of Wands wear to a modern dinner party? Lounging around the house?
  • Architecture. What would the Parthenon wear if it was a person? Big Ben? The Eiffel Tower?
  • If you have a child, or a small cousin, let them dress you. Sometimes little kids pick up on things adults miss, and while you might end up looking like cupcake vomit, you might also find some unexpected combinations that look FANTASTIC.
  • Graffiti and street art! You might not have a local Fafi, but I bet there’s some beautiful work near you. Or you can just buy this book and flip through it (which is probably what I, o lazy one, will be doing – I haven’t read it but I’ve heard it’s great!)
  • Study up on art movements! Or maybe just your favorite one. Dress as Cubism for a day. Or Rococo. Or Impressionism.
  • Read about historical figures. What would the Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire wear if she was alive today? Elisabeth of Bavaria? Boudica? Marie Antoinette? Wait, I went ahead and answered that one for you:
If Marie Antoinette lived today…obviously she would love Betsey Johnson and Tarina Tarintino! She carefully dyes her hair a light pink, diluting the dye with conditioner every time and changing into an old vintage slip beforehand, so that she doesn’t stain any of her clothing. She pierced her ears twice so that she can wear studs on top and dangly earrings on bottom! She wears as many hair accessories as she can fit on her head and she loves to artfully arrange her brooches into little scenes. And she always, always carries a box of macaroons in her purse in case she gets hungry while shopping! (Along with her nail polish of the day, so she can do touch-ups if need be.)
  • Look at vintage chinaware and see if you can think of a way to translate it into clothing. One of the most memorable posts that I’ve read on the Corsetmakers community on LJ was a series of corsets done to match a teacup collection.
  • Nature. Check out butterflies, flowers, natural desert rock formations, and anything else you can find for color schemes, textures, and shapes.
  • And once you’re done looking around you, look to the stars! Look at nebulae, the aurora borealis, galaxy shapes, etc.

(those last two ideas were courtesy of a blogging brainstorming session with Ashe Mischief – thank you dear!)What’s inspiring you lately?

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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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Defining Your Personal Style, Part One: The Concept

Defining personal style can be an intensely difficult thing to do. For some people it comes very easily, for others, not so much. If you’ve spent every day for the last several years just throwing on whatever is comfortable in the morning, it can be pretty challenging to start actually thinking about your clothing choices. There isn’t anything wrong with that, by the way. I don’t think anyone has any obligation to dress stylishly. As was posted at A Dress A Day, in a post I’ve linked to before, “Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.” In fact, that quote from Chanel – “I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little – if only out of politeness.” – really annoys me, and if someone said that to me I would probably tell them to eff off, which is probably one reason nobody is going to be quoting me in fifty years. Anyways! If you choose to do so, viewing your clothing and the way you wear it as a creative endeavor can be extremely rewarding and a whole ton of fun!

But how do you get started? The process is probably going to be different for every person, so I can’t give you a step by step guide. I can tell you what I did, in hopes that it will help you.

  • Think about the kind of films you like, the kinds of books you read, your favorite websites. What do these say about you, and how can you incorporate that into your personal style? Are there recurring themes? Do all of the movies you like have a film noir feel, a gothic feel, or are they all classics from the 50’s? What do the characters wear? You might want to take notes next time you watch it, as geeky as that sounds. Or, another approach is to just watch films with a strong aesthetic to get a feel for what you’re drawn to. My approach to this was to write down (or print out) films that won Academy Awards in the costume and art direction areas. It’s a good place to start, at least!
  • Look everywhere for inspiration, to start getting a feel for what you like visually, and what you don’t. Here’s some suggestions: Flickr (just search random phrases – some neat stuff comes up!), which as most everyone knows, is a photo hosting site/community. Wardrobe Remix is a group on Flickr and is also a great place to look for inspiration. Street fashion blogs are great for this – Hel Looks is a good place to start, Japanese Streets is also pretty cool. Model Mayhem is just awesome for inspiration, as you may have gathered. You can find an infinite amount by googling “street fashion blog”. I have an inspiration folder on my computer where I save any photos, whether of outfits or costumes or whatever, and being able to flip through all of the images is great.
  • Speaking of your inspiration file folder – download Picasa and start making inspiration or idea boards with the images! Find yourself downloading a lot of fairly tale themed photo shoots? Make a board based around the idea of the modern fairy tale! Or, try and narrow down where your influences come from (i.e. certain movies, vintage fashion, subcultures, etc.) and then make a collage exploring all of your influences. Here’s my attempt at this from a while ago.
  • Or – another good exercise is to make a magazine clippings inspiration board! Tutorial here.
  • Polyvore is also an incredibly useful tool. Put the Polyvore bookmarklet on your browser, and whenever you come across something you like, clip it! Start constructing outfits with all of the things you like. You’ll be surprised what goes together! Don’t worry about the prices of the items right now – just getting the creative juices flowing is what’s important. We can always find more budget friendly items later, non?
  • Look through your inspiration folder and Polyvore items. Take note of recurring colors and patterns. I, for example, noticed I seem to love the colors of pink, turquoise, and black. When I buy anything now, I ask myself if it will go with these, or at least clash in a way that I like. If the answer is “no”, I reconsider buying the item. This is a useful strategy to employ because it keeps you from having those items that you can only wear with one certain outfit – a waste of a great garment, to be sure! For more on this, see Ashe’s series on developing your wardrobe palette.
  • Come up with a style statement. It can be vague and you can refine it later, or hell, it can even just be a list of words that you’d like to reflect in your style. I.e., colorful retro glamour, etc. I find that easier myself, I feel kind of pretentious pretentious coming up with an actual statement, honestly. There’s an entire book called Style Statement dedicated to this – I’m about halfway through it as of this post and it’s pretty good reading so far, so it might be worth looking in to!

The really important thing is to not get discouraged – this is a process that WILL take a while. I started seriously thinking about this right around the time I started this blog (October of 2008); I had had the same style for years, whether out of comfort or habit I’m not sure. Sometimes I still buy things that fit the Michelle of three years ago much better than they fit the Michelle of now, and only in the last two months or so am I getting to a point where I feel comfortable even TRYING to define my style. If you mess up a couple of times, that’s fine! Don’t stress about it, it’s all just part of the process.

Related things to read and love:

Top Five Ways to Define Your Personal Style

The Definition of Real Style (Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love iCiNG) both articles by Gala Darling

Eccentric Glamour by Simon Doonan

Any more suggested reading? Leave it in a comment – I love reading things about this topic :)

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Making an Inspiration Board

No, not one with Polyvore or Picasa – those are for wimps! We’re talking a real, get your hands dirty (or at least, covered in rubber cement), paper-and-scissors inspiration board. Oh yeah.

This is great for two reasons:

1: If you’re a compulsive magazine hoarder like me, this gives you a chance to give them a second life. Aside from, you know, just flipping through them to read the articles from magazines three years ago.

2: GREAT way to get inspiration…of course. If you’re feeling blah, not sure where your style’s been going lately, etc., an inspiration board can totally help. Inspiration boards can be made for any reason, and one can be made for a specific style – “Retro 50’s” or “Fairy Tale”, for example, but I was definitely doing this as an exercise in seeing what colors, patterns, silhouettes, and such that I tend to be drawn to.

This is obviously not the only way to make one, but here’s what I did.

Go get your magazine hoard. I had super-cool mags like NYLON and BUST and Venus, which made it easier to find the off-the-wall things I like, but Cosmo or Vogue will work just as well! If you don’t have a magazine hoard, you can probably find someone who does, or you can ask places like the library to give you their old magazines. If you’ve got a cool local place that sells them, it could be totally fruitful to see what they do with the leftovers at the end of the month – at Eccentrix, they just end up sitting in the break-room with the covers ripped off. They’d probably be ok with giving some away, and that’s a fast way to get a few.

Flip through the magazines. Any time you see anything you like, whether in an advertisement, photoshoot, whatever, just rip the page out. Set all of the pages in one spot – I had a folder that I got from the $1 section at Target AGES ago and stuck ‘em all in there. If you have one lying around I highly recommend it, because otherwise the pages slide all hither and thither.

Once you’ve exhausted the magazine resource, go back through the pages. If you look at a page, and can’t remember what it was about the page that spoke to you, put it aside – you might be able to use it for another inspiration or mood board, but for the purposes of this board (which, like I said above, is kind of a “where is my style going”, “what am I drawn to” exercise), it won’t be of use. Cut out the item or part of the picture you were drawn to. While you’re at it, you might think about what your absolute favorite part is, it’ll come in handy later. For some items, if they take up most of the page, you might want to just clean up the page edge and leave the rest as is, because you probably won’t tons and tons of the posterboard showing. You can cut the item/person/thing of note closely around the edge, or leaving jagged edges, or just cut a rectangle around them – whatever floats your boat!

Once you’ve cut everything out, get your posterboard, glue/rubber cement, any paints or paintbrushes you might need, and your folder of images. Will probably look like this:

The loose magazine page is one that I ripped out right before I started and hadn’t trimmed yet. Note the tunes! Tunes are important, they will set the mood! So pick something you lurve.

Now spread out all of your images, and start sorting them into large images, medium sized images, and small images.

Start with the large images first, pick out your favorites and start laying them out on the board. You’ll run out of space faster than you’d think – be prepared to  pick and choose! Once you’ve decided on a layout, rubber cement those pieces down. Oh, and by the way, be prepared for it to take up a large amount of space:

That big empty space in the middle? That’s where I was! This is about three-quarters of the way through it.

Now sift through the medium pieces and do the same. This is where consciously thinking about what element of the photo/page you’re most drawn to comes in – you won’t want that element to be obscured. Last come the small pieces. Be prepared to end up end several layers in some spots – I think I had three or four in at least two places, and I actually ended up almost completely covering one photo because I decided I liked others better! I used the smaller pieces, including several roses I cut out from this month’s BUST issue (right before the Mother’s Day article), to break up the negative space left over between the large and medium pieces, and tie it together somewhat. Here’s the result:

Inspiration Board - zoomed out

Inspiration Board - zoomed out

Inspiration Board - detail shots

Inspiration Board - detail shots

Apologies for the not-so-great pictures – it’s really hard to take photos of a shiny object, as it turns out. For larger pictures, look here and here. And I really need to get a camera that doesn’t leave a timestamp on photos! Sigh. Anyways, it ended up a little warped because I left it on a shelf (with some overhang) before it was fully dry. Warning for those using rubber cement: it, apparently, takes FOREVER to dry! I finished this Friday evening around 6:30, left it sitting overnight, and put it on the shelf the next day at noon. Ten hours later it was warped. Lame. Also, for the other klutzes out there: How to Get Rubber Cement Out of Clothing.

Oh, and I have plenty of leftovers for the next time I want to do something like this:

Maybe I went a bit overboard with the page-tearing, hmm?

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Mmm eye candy

Looking around on Flickr…(pictures are clickable)

Makes me miss my mohawk a little!

And here is another one, that won’t seem to let me grab the image source, but it is too awesome to pass up.


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