Your alarm goes off at 8:30 in the morning. As you roll out of bed and trudge over to closet (or that armoire thing in your dorm room you like to call your “closet”) a familiar panic washes over you—the feeling of having nothing to wear.
Now, it’s unlikely that you literally have no clothing available for use—unless you’re like me and only do laundry every other month. More likely, you have a closet full of clean items but have no idea how to style them. Finding fresh inspiration for creating outfits can be a challenge.
If you need some ideas, you could peruse the mall, or look around a classroom—but are you really noticing anything unique? In a sea of hoodies, Nike shorts, and flip flops, sometimes campus isn’t the ideal place to gain fresh fashion inspiration. Obviously, the mall is a prime source for the bones of your wardrobe, but buying a great piece and knowing how to wear it are two totally different things.
I’ve compiled a list of the best places or people to refer to for some sartorial stimulation. Each of these people and publications are a great way to broaden your stylistic views, which will help you see your wardrobe with fresh eyes and a little more creativity.
One of the best sources for fashion inspiration is celebrities! Whether they’re running errands in casual clothes or in haute couture on the red carpet, you’re sure to gain an idea or two. Yes, they might pay a stylist tens of thousands of dollars to keep them looking great, but mimicking their outfits gets you expert advice for the price of Google imaging.
My Picks: Rachel Bilson, Mary Kate Olsen, Chloe Sevigny, Gwen Stefani, and Nicole Richie
Avoid: Lindsay Lohan, Amy Winehouse, Kristen Stewart, J Woww, and Snooki
“Glossies” are the classic go-to source for the latest in trends and styling tips. Check out the gorgeous photo spreads, interviews with fashion industry VIPs, and eccentric couture advertisements for information on fashion’s next big thing. Another bonus: most magazines are now on the web, so you can get your fashion fix for free!
My Picks: Vogue, W, Nylon, Cosmopolitan
Avoid: Playboy, Popular Mechanics, and High Times aren’t the best places to go for fashion tips.
Character development often includes creating a distinctive style for a tv show’s leading personalities. In the 90’s, soccer moms and young professionals alike rushed to hair salons in hopes for a perfect “Rachel” haircut, and in the 70’s it was all about Farrah Fawcett’s feathered hair.
The great thing about TV shows is that the fashion inspiration doesn’t end until the show is cancelled. Sometimes, a character’s style will change throughout their tenure on a show (hello Little J in Gossip Girl) adding another layer of interest. Shows on Nick at Nite are my personal favorite—no one worked leopard print like Fran Drescher did on the Nanny!
My Picks: Sex and the City, Gossip Girl, The Rachel Zoe Project, Glee, Friends
Avoid: Lost (unless you have no access to a washing machine), John and Kate Plus 8, Flava of Love
These stylish websites offer the most up to date fashion news and trendspotting. They are updated several times throughout the day, and many offer RSS feeds and email updates. I love these sites because they’re interactive; articles feature a comments section, allowing you to hear how every day people feel about certain trends. Some of the best fashion tips I’ve heard come from fellow readers of my favorite fashion sites!
CollegeFashion is definitely one of my favorite fashion sites—not only are they my current employer, but it’s written by college girls so the fashion tips they give are extremely relevant to a student’s life and budget. Go Fug Yourself is great for a laugh, and Refinery29 is smart, satirical, and a good way to kill a spare few hours you might be blessed with.
Avoid: anyone still on Myspace
Musicians are truly one of the driving forces in the world of fashion and trends—think about the wardrobe makeover the world experienced after Nirvana went mainstream! Michael Jackson made military jackets and high water pants cool, for Madonna it was lace and lingerie, and Bob Dylan never left home without his signature scarf, shades, and polka dot shirts.
There are a handful of musicians whose styles are just a little too eccentric for everyday wear, but still make breakthroughs in the haute fashion world. Lady Gaga’s leotards and lobster hats might not translate in the real world, but the late fashion great Alexander McQueen debuted his ten inch high “McQueenadillo” shoes in the music video for “Bad Romance.”
My Picks: Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, Lady Gaga, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Madonna, Diana Ross
Avoid: Red vinyl suits a la Britney Spears, anything worn by Courtney Love
From period pieces to Oscar winners, movies are a great source for style inspiration. Iconic films such as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Annie Hall” defined a look and remain classics today. Production studios spend tens of thousands of dollars on costume design, so you can trust that a character’s outfit is deliberately chosen and directly reflect the character’s personality.
My Picks: Dazed and Confused, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Titanic, Legally Blonde, Clueless, The Royal Tennenbaums, Almost Famous, Heathers, Bringing Up Baby
Avoid: Rocky Horror Picture Show, Planet of the Apes
What separates fashion blogs from the other sources on this list is that they feature real people wearing real clothes without the help of a make-up team or airbrushing. This is the place to go if you’re looking for “street chic” outfit inspiration.
Rumi Neely of FashionToast is my all time favorite fashion blogger. Her and her boyfriend live together in San Diego and he takes picture of her doing everyday things (like going to the grocery store or brushing her teeth) while draped from head to toe in fabulous outfits. Part hipster, part boho, part high end couture, she blends several styles together seamlessly and always looks incredible.
Avoid: blogs built on Xanga
Models Off Duty
They may don the season’s “it” clothes on the runway, but the true magic occurs when they’re off work. With access and exposure to the world’s top design houses, runway models often have eclectic styles and know that the real secret to looking great is rocking an outfit with confidence.
Kate Moss is the queen of chic streetwear. In her heyday, there was nothing that Miss Moss couldn’t pull off. She even made dating scary-looking druggies (aka Pete Doherty) look cool! Today’s reigning runway royalty is definitely Alexa Chung. This part-Asian beauty loves to stack on piles of accessories, and always look just a little bit unkempt. Alexa has only been a fashion “it girl” for a few years, but she already has a Mulberry handbag named after her! Talk about a lifetime accomplishment.
My Picks: Kate Moss, Alexa Chung, Abbey Lee Kershaw
Avoid: anything worn by Anna Nicole Smith after 1995, Tyra Banks’ infamous one piece swimsuit
Where do you go for fashion inspiration? Do you read street style blogs, or think they’re too “out there?” Still reading fashion magazines, or getting your fix for free online? Let us know!