September 14, 2013

RAC: Pintrest and Lookbooks

In my current quest to remake my poor, broken wardrobe, I have engaged in an attack on two fronts: both culling what I don't wear from my wardrobe and creating a series of inspirational lookbooks. I have talked about the culling aspect in the past, but not the building of inspiration- which I think is really the more exciting option.

Now, I have about a thousand inspirational pictures stored on my computer- they comprise most of my alternative aesthetic inspiration. But the documents page is unwieldy to use as an inspiration board: the pictures are too small, when you get them the right size you can only see one at a time, deletion is difficult, etc. So, I have finally turned to embrace what people have been using for ages: pintrest.

Pintrest has grown on me. I used to be a little disdainful of the hype and people who collect pictures of what others are doing rather than doing it themselves, but I've fallen fully into the fold. And though it seems like a great deal of the fashion tends towards the mainstream, hipster look- there does seem to be enough of a variety that I don't feel my aesthetics are being influenced by what is available when I create my lookbooks.

What is a lookbook?

For me, a lookbook is my inspiration or mood board. It is a collection of outfits, accessories and style pieces that strike a chord within me. From these pictures I'll be able to discern what I really like and what is just a passing fancy. I'll be able to pick up trends in interests and begin to create a list of what to look for for my wardrobe.

Like with most things I undertake, I have a process: I browse through pintrest searching for certain terms that resonate: vintage, street style, steampunk, elegant, sophisticated, sweater and skirt, etc. I go through the page and pin everything I like to my Lookbook 1. Everything and anything that catches my eye. Once I have reached 100 pins in my first look book, I create my Look Book 2 and continue the process. As of this moment, I am on my fourth lookbook and have found 328 pictures that I like.

However, just finding what you like isn't enough- as evident with my closet. Many different aesthetics appeal to me. Everything from steampunk to coquette. From edgy, leather Goth to modest, feminine styles. Were I to rebuild my wardrobe from this massive collection of pictures, I would end up with something even more ungainly than I had before.

So, every day for the past week, I've been deleting five pictures from each completed lookbook (completed = 100 pictures in it.) This way, I can whittle down what was a passing fancy, any thing that has the right idea but is just filler, and anything that I wouldn't wear.

This last point is very important for me. Usually my tastes in inspiration drift towards the grand, impressive and flamboyant. The clothes you might wear to a convention but not to get groceries. However a wardrobe needs to reflect your lifestyle and if all my inspiration is for once in a lifetime events- no wonder I don't know what to get at the store or feel like I have anything to wear!

This time I've been working very hard at only choosing only clothes that I would legitimately wear to school (my most common outing.) This means ignoring the over the top advertisements or statement pieces and focusing on street wear.

A few trends and ideas have emerged in the process:

~ I am very much a skirt person. I think there may be about 20 out of 320 pictures that tickled my fancy that were pants or shorts based. Lucky for my style, I usually wear skirts anyways!

~ I like a deep red, jewel blues and purples. These colors continue to be repeated in the pictures as accents or statement pieces. I have a closet of mostly black- it sounds like it's time to add some richer colors.

~ Sweaters belted with thin leather belts is apparently an attractive look for me.

~ If I ever got into Instagram, the super saturated filter would be my favorite. At least that is what my pictures are telling me.

~ My aesthetic was honed by pictures 101-200. It is much harder to cull out photos from that lookbook than the first (where I was still learning what I liked) and the second two (where pickings begin to get slimmer as major search categories are exhausted and I begin to get bored and adventuresome.

~ I had to create a "High Fashion" look book to place the extravagant pieces I liked. Just because I wouldn't wear them every day doesn't mean I cant gain valuable analysis from those pieces.

~ It is hard to look at a piece and ask myself if I really like it or if it is just pretty. Same problem with the culling of pieces from my closet I imagine.

My current goal is to whittle down each of my 100 photo look books into a mere 40 each, combine them into a greater file and then whittle those down to 50. At which point I think I will have a pretty solid core of themes and outfits I really enjoy. That should be ready in a couple of weeks.


  1. This is really interesting! I haven't ever used pinterest in this way, but it sound really useful! I have started to make outfits/moodboards/lookbooks/collections on polyvore recently... I have made art collages there for a while but have now moved into more style oriented collages. These really help me see what I really like. And I give myself the freedom to move beyond my comfort zone and experiment with looks there that I wouldn't yet dare to experiment with in real life. (I do want to ever evolve my style in some way, and not stagnate now that I am fairly certain of what I like and what is "me".)

    I really want to see your lookbooks now! Want to share?

    Oh, and on the question of the grand and opulent vs. real life I have to say that I wear convention type clothing to the the local grocery shop with alarming regularity! I'm going for a status of eccentric village original (yeah, there has to be one in every village here) before the age of 30! ;D

    1. I have to admit, Polybore overwhelms me. I get on it- start looking at all the different clothing, shoes, accessories, etc and I throw my hands up in despair. Until now, my grasp on an actual style has been shaky at best but pintrest does a great job at helping you refine it.

      Now, that I am thinking about it- both might be necessary in the expression of your aesthetic. First you go to pintrest to learn what appeals to you by picking and choosing various pre made outfit pictures. After you have some idea of your color scheme, your silhouette and basics, you graduate to polyvore to get experience with learning to choose out actual pieces- rather than general aesthetics- and how to create outfits with all the trimmings. Ha! And here I was thinking I was almost done...

      When I whittle my lookbooks down to my final 50 or so- I am definitely posting them all on here in a massive post. Unfortunately, my pintrest is linked to my facebook page and I don't feel comfortable sharing that in a public forum.

      Hahahaha. If anyone could pull off village eccentric with grace and style at such a tender age, it's you Nadja!

    2. Polyvore is rather huge and scary yeah... I find most of the items I really like through people I follow on polyvore, people with a similar style. If you want to have a look at my polyvore adventures you can find a link to my polyvore on the sidebar of my blog. I'm finding it really inspiring to create outfits witout the constraints of my own wardrobe!

      Oh I see, I never link anything to my facebook for that reason. My pinterest is linked to my twitter account. Not that I am very private online anyway, I do go by my real name everywhere after all... I'm blaiming my Etsy shop for that. My shop is conneted to my blog and I feel like I want to go by my own name in my shop so I can't really be private anywhere online anymore... ;) I hope you do a lookbook post though, they sound really interesting!

    3. I absolutely will do a look book post! It is just going to take a bit to whittle down my pictures to a reasonable number. After all, each day it gets harder and harder as the collection is distilled into pictures I really like. I also want to avoid going through and slashing out pictures I actually like in a fit of a bad day.

      But when I move on to my polyvore adventures, I'll make an account based on my blog so I can reference it. In the mean time, I'll definitely check out yours!