History in the Making

Style Inspiration: How to Make It Work for You, Style File Friday

At various points in our lives, we are struck with style inspiration. In 2010, millions of people were entirely enchanted by Downton Abbey, and everyone wanted to run out to buy evening gowns, hunting tweeds, and lengths of pearls despite none of them being anywhere close to practical for twenty first century life. Currently in 2018, there is a bizarre trend of knee high boots that look like jeans around your ankles; style aside, they appear to be incredibly difficult to walk in (which should be your first consideration with shoes…). This guide has 4 questions to ask yourself so your style inspiration work for you!

Style Inspiration: How to Make It Work For You

Popular television shows and movies play a massive role in style and fashion trends, but presentations at fashion weeks and in couture collections do as well, and that clothing is usually a) not in the least bit practical for anyone with a regular life, and b) is far more extravagant and ridiculous than most of us could pull off. While it is a lovely daydream to think that we could wear a billowing tulle ballgown in our everyday life, most of us would probably spend the day answering countless questions, being on the receiving end of an infinite number of strange looks, and trying to shift around non-step.

If you have been keeping up with my Instagram stories, you will know I’m doing a Reign re-watch, and although I couldn’t adore those rich and gorgeous dresses that Mary and her ladies wear more, it’s not a look that would work in my wardrobe easily. (Could anyone pull off couture, fifteenth century gowns?? If so, please send me a message, I would love to know more!) I’ve been going through my wardrobe to assess how I can introduce elements of the look without appearing like I am wearing a costume, and I have a list of questions that I have been asking myself as I do.

4 Questions to Make Your Style Inspiration Work for You

1) Do You Already Own a Similar Piece?

Whenever you want to purchase a new item of clothing, I would always recommend taking a tour through your closet and seeing if something you already own would fit the bill. Unless you truly maintain a minimalist, capsule wardrobe, you probably have some items that are at the back of your wardrobe that don’t get worn very often; I am actually a fan of having a few these hanging back, because you often will find that they will suddenly fit perfectly into your style. It is incredibly easy to get caught up in a new trend and buy five or more new pieces because you absolutely loooooove the Duchess of Sussex’s boatneck dresses, only to realise that they don’t work with any of your blazer, cardigans, or wraps. Slow your horses down just a tad, and use what you are already have to the best of your abilities!

Red taffeta full skirt

2) Can You Wear It In Your Everyday Life?

We all know those people who could wear a Halloween costume to a meeting at work and it would seem like they are wearing the same pants and blouse that you are, but most of us need to consider practicality and style when choosing our clothing. Sure, you may very well love the look of a floor length, brocade skirt, but do you normally wear them? If you are always moving from one place to the next at work, if your office is always freezing or boiling, if you take public transportation, you need to make sure that your clothing works for your everyday life! Consider the length of the garment, the weight of the fabric, and the garment care. You can certainly admire a piece if it doesn’t work well in your wardrobe without purchasing it yourself, and there is no point to wasting your time or money on an item that you won’t actually wear (no matter what the reason is).

Close up of damask and brocade

3) Is the Piece Easily Identified?

This question boils down to a very simple one- do you look like you are wearing a costume? If someone looks at you, will they think, “well, they are clearly trying to look like Cher from Clueless/Lady Mary from Downton Abbey/Princess Margaret from The Crown“, and I would argue that is what you want to avoid. While I am a big fan of using any many different sources of style inspiration as possible, your clothing and style should reflect you, not another person or character. For one reason, things come in and out of style (is anyone still wearing hunting tweeds a la Downton?) and although looking out of date isn’t the worst thing in the grand scheme of life, looking like you jump on trends can make you appear flippant and flighty. And for a second, people don’t tend to take you seriously when you appear to be playing a character- you are worth being your own person, and you don’t need to try to be anyone else!

Black brocade skirt

4) What Elements (ie. colour, shape, pattern) Would Work in Your Life?

If you are drawn the style of a particular television show, movie, or time period, spend some time really looking at the clothing, and see what it is about the style that you like. Is it the way that the clothing moves, meaning most likely it is the fabric and weight that you love? Or is it the patterns or colours that appeal to you? Or is it the actual shape of the garments themselves? While all of these things together will often make a costume of sorts, pulling out the elements that you love will help you use the inspiration to create a wardrobe you love that is actually you! Depending on what the element is and what is in stores at the moment, you may need to do some searching on eBay or Etsy but it is rare that you could truly find nothing. The way to cultivate a wardrobe you love is to draw on those influences, but you have to be thoughtful about it!

Damask and taffeta fabric close up

If you could wear clothing from any period, from any person, what would it be and why?

The Historian
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