Way back in July 2012 I started a series of blog posts called Defining Style. My goal was to help you readers, and myself, figure out our own personal style in a way that wasn’t decided by fashion magazines or trends, but rather came from our individual preferences. My method can be particularly helpful, I think, to those of us who aren’t easily defined by those labels often used, such as “rock chic” or “bohemian”. I even teach this method to my students at Imageakademiet, because I want them to have as many tools as possible (if you think defining your own style is hard, try having five, not to mention twenty-five, personal shopping clients who all look to you for guidance). The tricky and wonderful thing about personal style, though, is that it is constantly changing. Some stick to a defined “base” more or less their whole life (think Coco Chanel or Frida Kahlo, for instance), whereas others are drawn to completely different style types as the years pass. It doesn’t matter which of these types you are – you might even be so young that it’s too early to see a pattern – as none of them are better or more stylish than the other.
It’s been a while since I first created my three inspirational mood boards (one for clothes/outfits, one for beauty, one for details, remember?), so I wanted to show you my mood boards for 2014. Someone clever out there might notice that I’ve used more photos than the maximum six per board, but let’s not get too hung up on that. What’s also new this year is that I’ve given my mood boards a vertical layout, so I can easily view them on my phone. Ah, the joys of technology! Let’s start with my style inspiration.
Earlier this week I got a very interesting comment from Julianne, about how she’s got more than one clearly defined style, and is having a bit of trouble merging the two. I’ve actually been thinking a lot about this myself. The style I had when I was “Maria the Musician” isn’t as present as when I actually was a musician, but that rebellious part of me simply refuses to go away completely. “Maria the Fashion Consultant”, on the other hand, likes ladylike dresses, shiny hair, and sparkly jewelry, so those two Marias don’t always get along (I’ve even started to notice a third Maria, but more on that in another post). When Julianne wrote that comment, I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist the challenge to blog about it, so I asked if she wanted to e-mail me a bit more about it all – which she did, huzzah!
In her own words (I simply had to quote her directly, since her phrasing was so bloody brilliant): “Basically, it boils down to something like your own dilemma; merging the elegant/cute with the rebellious/quirky. In my case, I try to merge the elegant-cutesy-Zooey Deschanel-Dita von Teese-vibe with the Gareth Pugh/Karel Appel/Luxury Comedy-ish-geeky-rocker-sprinkled-with-winklepickers-and-sequins-vibe. I honestly don’t know how to describe the second ‘style’ in any other words, I spent a good fifteen minutes coming up with this less than vague description! [...]
proportion |prəˈpôr sh ən| (noun):
a part, share, or number considered in comparative relation to a whole
Whenever I’m dressing someone, be it myself or a client or a friend, one of the very first things I study are their proportions. You see, sizes and numbers really don’t matter, but if you want to create a balanced impression, proportions definitely do. Once you understand them thoroughly, choosing flattering clothes is almost child’s play. Necklines, the length of sleeves and hemlines, the shape of the shoulders, skirt style or pant legs – everything has to do with proportions. I made this little illustration to get you started:
Time for another post in my Defining Style series! So far I’ve written about my thoughts about defining style, how to find inspiration and create your own mood boards, how to “translate” inspiration into actual outfits, and how to deal with the transition period when you’re working on your style. This time, I want to show you how you can fine-tune your style skills and your shopping skills.
I do spend a lot of time browsing online shops. 99% of the time, though, I don’t buy anything – I’m simply practicing. As many of you know, I’m a fashion consultant and do all sorts of jobs in that field, so I do need to know what’s going on out there, and I also need to ponder and understand a lot about cuts, shapes, fabrics, body types and such. Still, I think this is one of the best things anyone can do when developing their style, it’s not just for us professionals.
Illustration by me – click to see a larger version
I’m so glad you all seem to like my Defining style series! A lot of you have already done the previous steps, and linked to your results in my comments. I must say you’re doing an excellent job. Hopefully you’re all beginning to get a better sense of who you are, style-wise. So far, though, things have been mostly theoretical. It’s time to get real.
Time for the second post in my Defining style series (if you haven’t read the first one, you might want to do that to understand what I’m talking about here). This time I want to talk about inspiration. Magazines, websites and blogs are overflowing with images and articles that are created to inspire us in some way. Yet nobody tells us how we’re supposed to use all this inspiration, and I don’t think it’s obvious at all.
And I believe I’m right in thinking so, because I’ve had it proven to me by countless of fashion students. For most of our styling assignments at Imageakademiet, the students do research and look for inspiration to come up with a concept and a mood board, which are supposed to be the basis for a resulting look. Many students find this surprisingly difficult, at least in the beginning of their studies, because they aren’t used to putting together an outfit with a specific thought behind it. The process of “being inspired” is thought of by most as something a bit mysterious, and many believe it’s an ability a person either have had since they were born, or never will. In my opinion, this is very, very wrong; I think you can be born with more or less instinct for this, but absolutely everyone can develop it and become better. The key is the connection between the source of inspiration and the final product.