Style Inspiration to Outfit Reality

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Have you ever seen a picture of an outfit you love – but you have no idea how to make it work for you? Or have you been told to gather a bunch of style inspiration – but you’re thinking, “now what?” You’re not alone.

An initial step I ask of many clients is to collect a variety of style inspiration. I ask them to grab photos from anywhere online (influencers they love, retail websites, Instagram, etc. – click here for the process I use with clients). And I instruct them to not think too hard about why they like something – just choose photos based on their gut. But the reason this works is that I take the next step for them. I look for commonalities and consistencies among the photos. I find patterns and themes. Then I distill this information into their general style vibes. And then I review it with them to make sure that my interpretation feels appropriate and authentic – and realistic for their life.

If you’re looking for inspiration on your own (with the goal of using it to influence what you wear), you need to take the next step yourself. But sometimes the leap from online inspiration to outfit reality isn’t so easy to take. You love how something looks. But outside of buying the exact same items, you’re not sure how to interpret it into clothes that actually make sense for your body, your lifestyle and your budget.

The good news is that it’s totally possible to grab style inspiration and interpret it for your wardrobe and your style. The key is not looking at all style inspiration as literal outfits that you would wear. You can take aspects of the inspiration (like the color palette or the shape or the overall vibe) and interpret it in a way that makes sense for you.

Take a look at a few outfits that I used for inspiration and the outfits they inspired. And let me know if they inspire you!

 All photos from Blair Eadie’s 2021 campaign for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

These first 3 outfits show how you can take this brown jacket/striped top/black jeans outfit and interpret it in a few different ways. This first look is almost a literal interpretation, if you love the color combination, the items and the overall style. But I still tweaked it a little – notice how I shifted the double breasted coat to a regular blazer shape. And I traded cropped flare jeans for skinnies and the chunky black loafers for a cute pair of slides. Because you can achieve the overall vibe, but shift the silhouettes to ones in your style comfort zone. (And if you’re looking to get out of your comfort zone, here are a few easy ways to do it.)

This second outfit shows you what to do if you’re drawn to items and shapes, but not the colors. It’s essentially the same outfit (a blazer, striped top, crop flare jeans and chunky loafers). But the change in color enables you to go for the vibe you like, in a palette that makes sense with the rest of your wardrobe. Because the last thing you want to do is mimic an outfit – and then discover that the items don’t mix and match with what’s already in your closet.

The third outfit is a less literal interpretation. It’s really a reflection of being inspired by the color palette. If you look at the inspiration outfit and are simply drawn to the brown jacket worn over black, use this to inspire a black dress/brown leather jacket date night look. (If mixing brown and black feels taboo, read this for a few tips, along with other ‘color myths’.)

This outfit is a more obvious interpretation and it shows how you can shift the season of a look. The original outfit is great for fall. But if you want an outfit for an early spring outdoor wedding, the wool blazer, floaty dress and boots may feel a bit too fall/winter. So, you can trade the dress for a fun print that feels a little more spring-y. And switch the wool blazer for a cotton one. And lighten up the accessories to make more sense with the weather.

This last outfit might seem ‘out there’. You may be thinking, “Paul, why would I ever choose a giant tulle skirt as inspiration?” But this is a great example of being inspired by an aspect of the look – specifically, the red accessories paired with a red dress. And you can use this to inspire your next girls’ night out look, with a fun red top, red earrings, a red clutch and killer red heels. (Click here for more ideas on how accessories can impact your look.)

So, did you learn a little bit about using style inspiration to make sense for your life? Drop any questions in the comments – I’d love to hear them!

If you’d like to save time, money and energy in evolving your style, I can be your partner in the process. I’ll show you how to achieve the style you desire – in a way that works for you. Click here to schedule a free Zoom consultation. We’ll chat about your needs, I explain the process and you can ask any questions you may have.


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