Thursday, July 27, 2006
Some of the best fashion inspiration comes from the lookbooks at shopping websites. Some like anthropologie make ensembles on mannequins, some like Gap photograph models in different outfits and some like shopbop make catalogs which are downright amazing and could pass for fashion spreads in a glossy mag. Whichever way these websites assemble outfits for our perusal, online lookbooks are a really great tool to help you mix your look up a little, get some ideas and make the most out of your wardrobe.

This, from Gap, looks simple enough and it's a great look for college -- comfy and cute. A long skirt, but not too full or colourful because you'll be recalling last year's boho summer. And a little cropped hoodie with a longish tank underneath and an adorable pair of ballet flats. Perfect proportions. Muted tones like in this picture are great for fall, but bolder combinations are entirely possible (I'm a big fan of bold colours; they cheer me up). For instance, a black skirt with a red tank and white hoodie.

Cozy knit wraps are going to be everywhere this fall. You could pair this with black leggings and boots for when the weather's not so conducive to short skirts. A pair of knee-length tan boots to complement the leather tote, or a cute pair of ankle boots - which are going to be another fall staple; when I finally start boot-shopping I'm going to be so hard-pressed to decide between ankle and knee length!

I love this ensemble. The masculinity of the wide-leg denim trousers is balanced by the flamboyant bow on the victorian-inspired shirt. And the subdued colours and relative formality of those two pieces is balanced by the bright, casual, FUN orange hoodie which just makes the whole outfit pop. If the huge collar on the shirt is a little daunting, even a regular high-necked victorianish blouse or something with some ruffles would work fine. Basically, something ultra-feminine and a little bit old-fashioned.

Sweater tunics: so trendy, so soft, so lovely. If you can splurge on cashmere like this particular one from Vince, go for it. Otherwise just go for something affordable in a cotton-wool mix and make sure it's soft. I love the loose blousy sleeves on this one. And how it's worn with contrasting layering tanks underneath. The best part is the quirky necklace. Absolutely adorable. This can be worn with skinny jeans or with a denim mini and boots or even flat-fronted menswear trousers.

This isn't really my kind of look, but it's an interesting way to take shorts into fall, and to wear leggings. There's something incredibly appealing about the textures - soft tanks with the velvet shorts and leather boots. And of course the mossy, woody colours are beautiful. So even if I wouldn't necessarily wear this outfit, I love looking at it.

Finally, another luxurious sweater look. The wide lapels and wide charcoal-and-black stripes are gorgeous. The rest of the pieces are understated, but the accessories pull it together: the black belt loose around the waist, and the long silver chain with the pendant against a bright white tank. You can work similar understated pieces with great accessories and any sort of wrap sweater with unusual colours or an unusual design for a comfortable, chic fall look.

The thing about all these outfits is that almost all of the individual items are not hard to find on a college-girl budget, or even hiding in your own wardrobe! Which is really what great style is about - innovation and experimentation and accessories. I guess this is a little rich coming from me because I'd always pick shopping over working with what I already have. But that could be because in perpetually sunny Singapore, funky layers are out of the question and therefore I don't get much of a chance to reuse/reinvent the same items in different, interesting ways. So hopefully Chicago will give me the long-awaited chance to play around with the clothes I have and stop buying so many new ones!