Reader Request: Inspired by …

Reader Marisa said:

It would be fun to see outfits you put together based on something you saw somewhere and loved (whether on another blog, in a magazine, in a movie) – just to compare your “inspiration outfit” against what you personally wore based on it.

Most of my outfit inspiration is drawn from three sources: Magazines, catalogs, and blogs. Most often, I’m looking for unusual color pairings, but I also will occasionally stumble upon a layering technique or juxtaposition of pieces that I wouldn’t have dreamed up on my own. Although I’d estimate a good 30% of my outfits were inspired by an outside source, I seldom recall that source … but here are a few for which I was able to both recall and locate the image that sparked my imagination!


Via The Cherry Blossom Girl


Originally posted here.

Not a terribly literal interpretation, as even our Westwood Pirate boots are from different generations. But I loved the simplicity of the flared-skirt dress with the slouchy boots, and how it all seemed so pared-down yet simultaneously sophisticated. My own outfit skews more casual, but I loved how it turned out.


Image via.


Originally posted here.

CONSIDERABLY more literal. I saw a photo of Mary-Kate Olsen in that khaki dress, red belt, and peeptoe booties ages ago and spent what felt like years slowly gathering up the pieces necessary to recreate it. I wouldn’t have bothered, except khaki dress, red obi, and avant-garde booties are all items I knew I could use again and again.


Via Creature Comforts


Originally posted here.

I am always drawn to tough-ladylike juxtapositions, but often need a nudge to execute them. I swooned over this photo showing a white tee, studded belt and sandals, and fluffy tulle skirt. My own version is a little dressier, but still worked beautifully.


Getty, image via.


Originally posted here.

Not only did that outfit of Kate Bosworth’s inspire my own, but it inspired me to seek out and purchase a cognac leather skirt. (Thank you, eBay!) My tucked-in ensembles seldom look finished without a belt, so I added that element and the tights made everything more seasonally appropriate.

I absolutely love the process of seeing a gorgeous photo, analyzing its components, identifying similar pieces in my own wardrobe, planning my own interpretation, tweaking it, and wearing it. It feels like working out a puzzle. As you can see, the end results are seldom identical to the outfits that inspired them, and that’s part of the fun. I’d much rather get close and inject my own personality than recreate a gorgeous outfit using identical pieces and styling. Imitation may be a form of flattery, but interpretation is frequently more expressive.

Do you draw inspiration from magazines, catalogs, and blogs? What else inspires you? Have you recently worn anything that was a nearly direct copy of an outfit you’d seen elsewhere? Share links, if you’ve got ’em!

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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  • I draw inspiration from the clothes themselves. I also sew, so my other major influence is the patterns magazines I buy. Though I never reproduce the looks featured in them.
    I stopped buying fashion magazines after a dear friend once told me she buys them so she can keep tabs on what is in and out and dress accordingly! I don’t mind finding inspiration from fashion mainstream venues as long as one doesn’t feel compelled to follow suit.

  • Plop

    I love the pirate boots *_*

    By the way, the very last outfit of yourself is just perfect and gorgeous and everything ! The model seems stuck in her skirt but you just overpower it !

    Have a nice day,

  • Eliza

    I have a whole folder of inspirational looks, though I don’t think I’ve ever coppied an outfit directly.
    I do like the softness of the blouse in the original leather skirt outfit, but on the other hand, I prefer the brown/white/black with your darker hair and pink skin.
    Most of your interpretations seem to use a stiffer fabric, did you notice?

  • Love getting the insight behind your outfits! I love getting inspiration from magazines and blogs, but I don’t think I can tie any of my outfits to actual images. I’m going to try this more though :-).

  • I rely a little too much on catalogs for inspiration. The J Crew and Anthropologie catalogs have become my fashion magazines. However, I’ve discovered a new source of inspiration in pinterest, and it’s only recently that I began reading fashion blogs.

  • Anat

    The funny thing is, I would never have given most of the “inspriation” pictures a second look. They are entirely not my taste, and I feel aliented because the body types are so different from my own.

    Yours on the other hand much more relatable, flattering and interesting to me.

    • Alexandra

      Yes! Exactly what Anat says. I was not struck by the “originals”, but your interpretations of them are gorgeous.

  • Now with Pinterest it seems so easy to quick go find an inspiration photo for mornings where I don’t already have an outfit laid out! I usually don’t copy one directly, but that’s because I don’t often own items exactly like the ones in the inspiration photo! It’s usually just more of an overall vibe or color combo!

  • oh man! i (unsurprisingly) love this post. you are the queen. i have some outfits that are directly already-pretty-inspired.

    weird side note: i recently had a dream in which i crossed paths with you on a large staircase at the u of m. i was like, “sally! it’s marisa, i emailed you once . . . ” uh. then things became awkward, as if i had intentionally tracked you down. you were kind of freaked out and i felt like an ass – however, i would still totally be like, “sally!” if i saw you irl.

  • I have a full/A-line-ish bright yellow skirt, and I did not know very many things to pair with it until I saw a link you posted one Friday that led to a picture of a blogger wearing HER similar yellow skirt with a chambray button-up.

    “Hey, I have one of those shirts!” I said to myself…

    So I took a very literal interpretation of that picture, and my yellow skirt saw a lot more action than it originally thought it would.

    That’s my inspiring story of using photos as inspiration.

  • I love to pore over fashion mags for inspiration. I will lay the last several issues of my favourites out on the bed and play dress-up in my closet. Using the fun and fearless things that other women do is inspiring for me to take risks and try combinations of colours or shapes that I previously thought was too whatever for me.
    Now that I have an ipad I can add my favourite fashion blogs to the inspiration layout!

  • Bethany

    Such a fun post!!! I need to work on getting more ‘inspiration’ into my clothes. Heaven knows I have enough on Pintrest!!! 🙂

  • I draw most of my inspiration from bloggers, at least in terms of interpreting a look in my own closet. But otherwise I let the clothes I purchase complement each other and usually outfits come out of it.

  • You are such a dress and skirt girl, I love these all on you! And the last two are my favorites, adore the skirts and combinations.

  • I get inspired by magazines and blogs especially, but I have a hard time reinterpreting looks for me and my body. I have a tendency to be very literal and if I don’t have all the pieces, I don’t feel like it’s “right.” Color combinations are fairly easy for me to recreate for myself, but silhouettes or how something is layered is more difficult for me to wrap my mind around and I’m never quite comfortable in what I’ve done.

    It’s something I’m working on though because I want to expand the limits of what I wear.

  • My sister and I send each other outfit of the days pictures every day. I use her outfits for inspiration occasionally, but there was one day I basically replicated her entire outfit the the day after she sent me the picture.

  • Anne

    This is such a timely post for me. I’ve always loved browsing through glossy mags. and I do have a few blogs I look at for inspiration, but I’ve never consciously tried to mimic or model them before. Until now. A few weeks ago my very patient husband asked with out a trace of sarcasm or irony, “Uh honey, do you think you could reign in your clothing budget a little?”

    I am guilty of shopping when bored or when the desire for something new takes over. I’ve decided to go on a little shopping embargo of my own. I went through my stack of magazines and catalogs and tore out outfits that I liked and that I thought I might be able to create my own version of. I have them in a file for those days when I find my closet uninteresting and yen for something new. So far it seems to be working.

    I’ve also learned to look at those outfit inspirations a bit more critically. Instead of seeing a picture of a dress and feeling like I must have it, I ask myself why I’m drawn to it. It is often because there is something familiar about it. Then I ask myself, “do you already have a version of this, or can you come close with things you already have?”

  • I like how you used a belt to cover up the tucked-in part of the shirt. I never tuck in because it looks so messy. How did you get the belt to stay put when you moved?

    • Sal

      It slid around a bit, if I remember correctly. Scarves and belts get readjusted a lot in my world!

  • I have always enjoyed your daily outfit photos, but found myself enjoying them MUCH more when I saw the inspiration behind them. It may be too much to do this every day, but I’d love it if you made this a regular part of your daily outfit posts.

  • Kookoo

    Inspiration is like coupons. As much as I try to us them, I forget at the register!

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  • I love the outfit with tulle skirt. Simple yet classy.

    I also collect pictures of outfits I want to interpret. I just have to find time to get the pieces I need or shop them from my closet.