Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Introducing: Inspiring Interpretations

I loved reading your reactions to yesterday's second installment of my Outfit Triage feature.  After launching this blog, I asked myself what aspects of other blogs I liked the most.  Frequently, some unique feature of the blog made the list.  I began dedicating my Thinking In The Shower Time to brainstorming fun features that fit with my own personality.  Outfit Triage---based on my frequent habit of completely messing up an outfit without any clue as to why or how to fix it---was the first.  It makes me feel great to see that you all like it as much as I do!

With that, I simply can't wait to introduce a new blog feature I've developed.  I love it, and I hope you will too...especially since I will need your help in making it happen!

I'll tell you all about it in a minute.  But first, here's the background:

A few months back, several of our favorite bloggers---I'm thinking of Dea (at The Dea Diaries) and Tara (at Little Girl Big Closet) in particular---published very thought-provoking posts on the effect of style blogs.  Both women identified the somewhat light-and-dark aspect of these blogs:  on the one hand, the blogs can be wonderful sources of fashion inspiration; on the other hand, seeing beautiful images of outfits can sometimes fan the flames of our desire to shop and acquire, creating a wildfire of consumerism.

Says Dea:  "Seeing items reviewed or in outfits worn by others most definitely whet my appetite for clothes I had not paid much attention to before. It created this want for things that once obtained, left little else to the imagination..."

Says Tara:  "There's a not-so-fine line between 'copying' and 'being inspired by'- the difference between recreating an outfit piece-for-piece, and recapturing the essence of a look. The first, while also capable of yielding great results, is not as creatively gratifying, nor as easy on your wallet, as the second."

Both women hit on a point I loved: personal style blogs fulfill a higher function when they serve as springboards for our own creativity; when we see a beautiful outfit or photo on someone's blog and---instead of calling five different stores and setting up email alerts on eBay in an attempt to hunt down the exact item we see in the photo---we reflect on the aspects of the image we love and then turn to items we already own to come up with our own interpretation.

Says Tara:  "Really, the best way to come up with beautiful, creative, fabulous outfits day after day, is to look at such outfits day after day.... Without inspiration, even a closet filled with the most magnificent pieces will yield only tired, boring outfits."

Says Dea: "I realize that instead of exploring blogs for what I don't have in my closet, I should be identifying items that speak out to me and remind me of pieces that would work well with my style, my life, my budget, my clothes!"

These reflections resonated with me in that deep way that causes one to mull.  I have mulled since January, taking mental notes of my own reactions upon seeing wonderful pictures on others' blogs.  I was surprised at how often my first act, upon seeing a lovely outfit, was to search for a particular item in an online store.  Why was my knee-jerk reaction one of "copying" rather than one of "being inspired by"?  Why didn't I turn to my own closet to find pieces to reinterpret the essence of a look I loved?  Why did I take the less creative route of acquiring the same piece I saw depicted?  Perhaps this creativity is a skill that needs to be practiced.

That's where this blog feature comes in.  

Here's how it works:
  • I'll post a picture of something lovely.  It may be an OOTD from a fellow blogger.  It may be an image from a catalog, a runway, or mother nature*.  It could be anything, really.
  • You go into your own closet and put together an outfit inspired in some way by the image.  Take a photo of your outfit and send it to me.
  • I'll post all of our interpretations.  We'll all be inspired and we'll all want to do this again.

The catch?  I'm looking for your interpretation of the photo.  For example, if I post a picture of someone wearing a Marston Sweater Skirt, which you already own, then your interpretation cannot use the Marston Sweater Skirt.  Get it?  The goal is to look at a picture and identify the parts of it that speak to you without imitating it.  Do you like the yellow color?  The fitted style?  The bumpy texture?  What?  What about the Marston Sweater Skirt calls to you?  What else can you wear (that you already have) that can fulfill that function?  Maybe you could care less about the skirt because you're more inspired by the prospect of taking a picture in a train station bathroom.  Anything goes, because inspiration can be different for all of us.

I'm calling this feature "Inspiring Interpretations."  The name has two meanings.  First, the photos we find online can inspire us to be creative by developing our own interpretations of the image based on "our style, our lives, our budgets, and our clothes!" (to paraphrase Dea).  Second, because our interpretations of a photo may help us inspire each other with new and creative ideas that do not involve buying a second closet.

Let's find new ways to work with what we've got!

I'm thrilled that both Tara and Dea, both of whom truly inspired my interpretation of this topic (hehe), have agreed to lend me one of their photos for this new feature.  Tara kicks things off with this fabulous outfit:

(See more photos on Tara's blog here)

Here's what Tara has to say about her own inspiration for this outfit:

This outfit begins and ends with my grandmother.  Leaf green---which, by the way, is a very difficult color to create an outfit around---is her favorite color.  The inspiration for the outfit came from the letters she wrote me, which, along with my precious memories, are all I have left of her, now that we are estranged.  To me, the vintage-looking cut and print of the skirt evoke a sense of nostalgia that seems appropriate when thinking of a long-lost friend.  The solid black cardigan was meant to add a somber touch to the ensemble, as a nod to what our relationship has now become.  The mix of riotous color and heavy blackness mirrored my mixed emotions on the occasion of her birthday, which was when I wore this outfit.

I was blown away by the symbolism behind Tara's choice of clothing!  I can't think of a better way to start this feature than with an outfit that is both visually striking and intellectually/emotionally stimulating.  Talk about inspiration, eh?  You have a lot to work with here.

I'm not going to tell you why this outfit jumped out at me.  I actually started typing a sentence that began, "This outfit jumped out at me because..." but then I deleted it.  It's not about what jumped out at ME...I'll tell you all about it when I post my own inspired interpretation alongside yours!  Right now, it's about what jumps out at YOU.  What jumps out at you?  What inspires you about this photo?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find inspiration in this outfit photo.  Take a picture of your own interpretation of Tara's outfit and send it to me by next Thursday night, February 24th, at  

I'll post everyone's outfits on Friday the 25th.  Remember, if you own any of the actual pieces Tara wears in this outfit, you may not use them!  This is all about an inspired interpretation, not an exact facsimile.  If you'd like to send me a sentence or two explaining your interpretation---not at all required, but certainly welcome---you can do that too.

I can't wait to see what you all come up with!  If you couldn't tell by the fact that I've essentially written you a novel in this post, I'm very excited about this. :-)

* To see another blogger creating outfits inspired by mother nature, check out Laura's "Inspiration that Rocks" feature at Anthro Closet Chaos, here!

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