Posts Tagged ‘style’

Looking Forward to Fall

A chill is in the air, the leaves are starting to turn – fall is almost here! In most parts of the country, anyways – here it’s still regularly hitting 95 degrees. But it’s been raining a lot more lately, and definitely beginning to cool down (95 is better than 105!) so it’s time to start thinking about my fall wardrobe. Or more accurately, fall wardrobe philosophy – I don’t think it’s necessary to purchase new clothes every season!

For fall, I’m thinking…

  • More gray than black in outfits, with accents of dark, rich colors. Royal blue, deep purple, and wine especially.
  • Lots of hats and hair accessories! These, of course, are something I always love (but never seem to find time to make/dig out at shops), but hats are especially useful for fall.
Noir Ruffle Tank

Noir Ruffle Tank

  • More feminine shoulder accents, instead of military esque. Vintage glittery brooches pinned on, ruffles on shoulders, that sort of thing.
  • Lots of thin, light layers. Chunky sweaters are going to be in, I know, but I don’t think they’ll be very flattering on me. I especially want some long, sheer cardigans in a few different colors.

  • I’m definitely wanting a few pairs of gloves – but pretty ones, not mitten-y ones.
  • Lots of leggings and tights! Since I’m sure I’ll be able to wear a lot of skirts here, unlike Missouri, where if a skirt was worn in the dead of winter, it would be sorely regretted, no matter how many layers were involved. Specifically on my wishlist are black lace-patterned tights/socks, vertical striped thigh highs, and opaque tights in purple, yellow, and turquoise.
Buttoned Up Heart

Buttoned Up Heart

  • Chunky jewelry in slightly “off” colors. Pewter instead of silver, brass instead of gold.

  • A general feeling of destroyed elegance. Lots of deconstructed lace, shredded details, that sort of thing. But with more of a vintage frock exposed to the elements feel, instead of a grungey one.

That’s my vision for this fall and winter. I’m looking forward to experimenting some, since I won’t be quite so limited by the weather here (see: won’t have to be wearing thick socks and long sleeves and as many layers as humanly possible, all the time!).

What are you feeling for fall?

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Wardrobe Challenge: No Black

We all get stuck in our own little sartorial ruts sometimes, and when I find myself in such a rut, the easiest thing to do is to issue myself a challenge. The challenge usually makes me think outside of my usual box and gets the creativity flowing enough to push me back out of the rut and back onto the road to being happy with what I’m wearing!

Black is the easiest neutral of all, and the go-to neutral for many of us. I do love black, I won’t lie, but it has its problems. It can sap the liveliness from other colors or your complexion, not to mention the fact that every little piece of lint shows up on it! A good starter wardrobe challenge is to go a week without wearing any black (barring accessories). It can be a lot of fun and it’s a good chance to stretch your color-experimenting skills.

“What?!”, I hear you cry. “How can I go a week without wearing any black at all?!” Well, let me show you!

I find the best way to start is picking out three colors from your wardrobe palette, to keep from getting overwhelmed by all of the options. Here’s my wardrobe palette:

Staple colors: Pink, purple, and blue (all shades of all three, especially turquoise blue and jewel-toned shades)

Accent colors: Red, orange, and yellow

Neutrals: Black, gray, cream, and navy

So there’s quite a bit to work with, even without the black. In case you couldn’t tell, the palette for the above outfit is gray, yellow, and turquoise. To be fair, there are small accents of black – the band around the beret and the straps on shoes. But I think that’s okay for the challenge, since they’d be hard to remove!

To make putting the outfit together even easier, just pick a color from each of the categories. Build a base with the staple and neutral color, and then add pops of the accent color. Another option is to pick a staple color instead of a neutral, but use a light enough version of it that it can function as a neutral, shown here with pink.

It’s also important to pick different color intensities, as well. Pairing bright orange with bright turquoise with gray would be hard to pull off. But accents of a subdued orange in an outfit comprised otherwise of a  rich royal blue and a nice dove gray could look wonderful. In the above example, I used a darker, deep purple shade, with a mid-range gray and a bright yellow. There would actually be less yellow than there looks at first glance, by the way, because the yellow tank is meant to be worn under the gray one! Little extra cleavage coverage, if you will.

Obviously, I was constructing outfits that I would wear, so they might not be perfectly suited to your tastes. But the methods should definitely hold true, and I totally recommend trying to go without wearing black for at least a day or two. It helps out a lot as far as looking at your wardrobe more creatively goes.

Do you think you could go without wearing black for a day? A week, even?

(PS – if anyone knows where to find an adult sized version of the pink skirt in the 2nd Polyvore, please clue me in. I just used a kid’s skirt and sized it up…and now I’d love to have a similar skirt but can’t find one anywhere!)

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Interview with Marion of Bitching and Junkfood

Bitching and Junkfood is an up and coming online clothing store that focuses on 80’s and 90’s clothing and accessories, with some gorgeous handmade items (check out this brooch, sadly already sold out!) thrown in for good measure. They were recently featured on Kingdom of Style and it’s obvious why! They’re also the first online shop you can shoplift from:

Yes, you read it right, there will be items you can nab for free. No we’re not telling you how: right time, right page, sticky fingers at the ready. Yes, it’s totally free, no postage, no packaging, sealed with a kiss – times are tough, we’re all broke, life’s too serious, let’s have a laugh.

Glitter Butterfly Shades

As you can see, Bitching and Junkfood is a breath of (much needed!) fresh air. I got the chance recently to chat with Marion, the owner of B&J, and ask her a few questions!

Bitching and Junkfood is such a great, off-the-wall name. How did you come up with it?

It’s a name that’s reflective of a lifestyle. I was sitting at a bus-stop one day with my friend a couple of years back and we were discussing hanging out on a Sunday. She said “Yeah, let’s just sit around bitching and order some junkfood.” (Saturated fat is one of my favorite flavors.) I said “Bitching and Junkfood”, that’s what it’s all about isn’t it! Little light bulb pops up over my head and I thought, one day I’ll have a brand called Bitching and Junkfood and here it is.

In light of the name, what IS your favorite junk food? ;) (I’d have to say almost anything sweet, I love me some ice cream/cake/brownies!)

Cake, biscuits and chocolate are my heroin. If I eat one biscuit I have to eat the whole pack. One day I will be found lying in a gutter covered in crumbs.

What gave you the idea to start a business with this concept? What did you do before B&J?

I have spent the last 5 years working in fashion buying and design for the UK high-street and had always wanted to branch out on my own and do something different so at the start of this year I just decided to go for it. I felt that there was a gap in the market for a UK based on-line vintage store with a high fashion feel. I’ve always loved vintage and have had a knack of tracking down the great eBay items that nobody else manages to find so I thought I could start a store where I could do the hard work and find the goodies leaving the customer footloose and fancy free to go party. I feel like a lot of stores lack humour and being Irish this is something that’s really important so I can be a bit cheeky in how I describe my clothing, use the occasional swear word (the Irish get a free swear pass) and have a shop-lift facility. The internet is great because you can push it a lot more than you could in an actual store.

So many people, when they think of vintage, seem to focus on 1940-1960. What made you want to do 80’s and 90’s instead? Does it jibe with your personal aesthetic more, you think?

Yeah, I’ve always been comfortable with trashy for some strange reason. I grew up in the 80’s so that’s what’s most natural to me. I love shoulders and big hair and angular cheeks – it fits best with my looks. I remember thinking my mother was the most glamorous person in the world when I was five – her style was really Dynasty and Dallas and she used to wear these crazy big earrings and batwing dresses with abstract prints on them, so I guess this influenced me a lot.

And a few about style/your personal look…

Total schizophrenic. Clothing is too much fun to stick to one style. I have always been a tall, gawky, angular kind of girl so have never really been able to do the whole pretty and cute thing. I like layering but with I also need definition with tight and structured elements – corset belts are a godsend. Coco Chanel said “always take off one thing (accessory, non important clothing item) before you leave the house”  - I say always put two things on.

How do you define style or someone who is stylish? Can you describe your personal style in 10 words or less?

Avant Garde, Playful, Boy, Girl, Eclectic, Unkempt, Dark,  Cock-rock.

Who or what would you say are your biggest influences, style-wise?

Rick Owens, Vivienne Westwood, Margiela, Roisin Murphy, Kelis, Adam Ant.

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen! The lovely Marion of Bitching and Junkfood. Be sure to check out the shop, the blog, and follow her on Twitter!

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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 Two: The Essentials

So, every book on fashion ever written has a chapter or section on essentials. I, personally, find these really useless. Example? The “essential” crisp white button up shirt is a total throwaway to me. They make me think of servers, finding button up shirts that fit at bust and waist is a nigh-impossibility for me, and hellooooooo stains! Admittedly, I am a wee bit klutzy when it comes to food and that might be a large part of my bias towards this supposed wardrobe essential (+ most anything white). But, psst, if you’re curious about creative ways to work it in to your style, check out Sal’s post on the subject.

Really, everyone’s essentials are going to be different – the most you can say is that people with similar styles might have similar essentials. But depending on a person’s favorite/most flattering colors, figure, or nuances in their taste, even that might not be the same. Why am I doing an “essentials” post then? Well, if there’s someone with a similar style to mine – which I’m going to very roughly define as a love of bright colors mixed with retro influence and a healthy dose of whimsy + a love for dark fairy tales and 70’s punks (I said very roughly, didn’t I?!) – my list might be a good starting point. But mostly, I’m hoping that by showing you my thought process in choosing them, it will make you realize your own. What are your basics? See anything that’s on my list? Why are they so essential and versatile in outfits? What do you love about them, and, if anything, what do you dislike?

Ok. Now that you’re thinking about that, here’s my list:

  • Black patent Mary Jane heels – I bought the Sofft shoes back in, I think, November. I have worn them COUNTLESS times since. They can make a look more polished, they work fantastically with retro-inspired outfits, and they can ground a really “out there” look. Some people find patent tacky, but I love it.
  • High waisted pencil skirt. I love high waisted skirts, I really do. I very rarely wear it with the tops tucked in (although that does make legs look a mile long, especially when paired with a heel/wedge that doesn’t have any straps – creates an unbroken line), but girls – a high waisted skirt will suck you in like you would not believe, without being uncomfortable!, and just having the fabric between your top and your tummy tends to make the top lie smoother.
  • Peep-toe slingbacks in a neutral color – Mine are black. I’m putting these on the list even though I haven’t had them long (I’m speaking of my Pekoe Fluevog slingbacks), because I’ve had them two weeks and worn them probably 5-10 times already! They’ve gotten rid of my old aversion to open-toed shoes singlehandedly. They’re cute, fun, and flirty – this pair has a little extra going on with the knotted leather, but a p lain pair would be just as versatile, I’m sure. Slingbacks are so great for me because I seem to have a problem with heels slipping – a strap across the foot or a slingback seems to really help with this problem.
  • A-line skirt, or, conversely, a circle skirt. I know these are NOT the same thing, but I consider them essentials for similar reasons – they look cute with almost anything (given that the colors don’t clash terribly, of course) and add a little retro flair. My only real beef with circle skirts is that, usually, you have to tuck the shirt or top you’re wearing in, or it’s not very flattering. This problem might not exist without wearing a petticoat underneath it, I’m not 100% sure. That’s not usually a problem with a-line skirts, though.
  • Black boots. If you’ve been paying attention, you know I love me some boots. I wear them year round and scoff at those who say boots are winter wear only! A good pair of black boots can go just about anywhere and with anything. I own several variations on this (Dansko ankle boots, Nine West lace-ups with buckle accents, slouchy Bronx boots, and the Fluevog engineer boots), and if I don’t already have a pair of shoes planned for an outfit I usually turn to one of those pairs.
  • Big costume jewelry rings. I love them, ’nuff said. They are sparkly and awesome and borderline tacky, everything I love in a piece of jewelry!
  • Feathery and/or otherwise over the top hair accessories. They make me feel glamorous and amazing, and really, that’s enough of a reason to be an essential, don’t you think?

Another exercise is to look at one of the dreaded “every closet MUST HAVE THIS!” lists. To start getting an idea of basic wardrobe building blocks, take each individual item on the list and think about why they suggested it (aside from that a lot of essential lists are simply rehashes of every other one every written *cough*), and then think of something that has your own little twist that fulfills the same function. Example: the white t-shirt. I’ve seen some lists that say you should have three of this item in your wardrobe. No matter what. But me – aside from the aforementioned food hazards, I very rarely wear white and not by my face if I can at all help it, because it washes me out. Since I am, you know, very nearly that color myself! So what takes the place of a white t-shirt (i.e. a piece that is a blank canvas and can be accessorized or layered at will – why most lists seem to love the white shirt) in my case, would be a black puff-sleeve shirt – black because it goes with everything I own, puff sleeves add that little bit of whimsy I love. This method is how I realized that I need a shirt as described in my wardrobe, and so I’m planning on purchasing one soon!

Now, I’m going to ask you again – what items do you find yourself turning to again and again? Wearing over and over? It really helps to make a list of these, or at least really think about it. If the current versions of these items are getting worn out and/or are uncomfortable (doubly so if they’re uncomfortable and you keep wearing them – you trooper you!), you might look in to investing in another version of them. To me, the smartest way to build a wardrobe is to get the highest quality you can (which does not mean spending oodles!) on the things you’ll wear constantly, and get more budget-friendly versions of the rest. Then again, my high waisted pencil skirt is a Converse one from Target that’s lasted great so far, so whatever works for you is, again, the rule of thumb!

Whew. Now that THAT process is over, what are your newly discovered style essentials? Have you realized that there’s something you’re missing? And let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see covered!

Coming up next: how to put together an outfit based on a photo or film.

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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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Review: Eccentric Glamour

So, I believe I mentioned Eccentric Glamour and that I liked it, but never gave a full-fledged review. It is, of course, fabulous. It covers everything a girl needs to make the transformation from drab to fab – and of course Simon is HILARIOUS. Some of his statements are less than PC and will make a few readers roll their eyes – and I personally could have done without the chapter on weight loss. Really, Simon? Isn’t it much more eccentrically glamourous to say “eff you” to societal standards of scary skinniness? (alliteration for the win! *cough*)

But I digress. The book starts with a rallying cry in the prologue of “say no to ho!”, where Simon laments the pornification of fashion and style nowadays. He wants to see more women showing off their personal style in the best way possible – eccentric glamour!

The book is a bit odd in that it isn’t a typical style manual (although, those books usually put me to sleep, so score one for Simon). It starts out with the three categories of glamorous eccentrics – Socialites, Gypsies, and Existentialists – which sounds like an awfully small number, but it works. For the record, I’m firmly in the Existentialist camp. He explains how to realize which group the reader would fall into and what the basics of each style is. From here, the book goes on a wonderfully meandering path – how to guard your self esteem, the meaning of your clothing, handbags, joie de vivre, careers for glamorous eccentrics, etc, with profiles of bona fide glamorous eccentrics in between each and every chapter. Simon liberally sprinkles anecdotes, including stories of his family and his mother Betty (who sounds like she was quite the character!), and is incredibly funny. Some of his advice may seem a bit extreme at first – I remember the first time I read this book, back in November or so, when I read of his distaste for jeans and his advice to throw them out, how boring he finds them, I balked a little bit. Funnily enough, six months later, I very rarely wear jeans and only have one pair! I do feel that the book kind of loses its steam towards the last half of the book – it starts to feel less cohesive and more like a series of short essays than one comprehensive work. This is, coincidentally, where the weight-loss chapter is. Each of the times I’ve read EG, I always get sort of bored near the end.

Overall, though, it is a GREAT book with a ton of style inspiration and food for thought (my copy now has several bookmarks in it of places/people to look up!). Definitely worth picking up – especially because it was just released in paperback a month or two ago! So what are you waiting for?! Go order it! While you’re at it, be sure to check out Simon’s website as well – the Random Scribblings page is particularly amusing!

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