The comment I hear most when talking about runway fashion is, inevitably: “I could never wear that!”
It’s true. On a typical day commuting to work, roaming through the aisles of Target, or picking up more toilet paper from CVS, it’s difficult to image oneself in the type of styles that walk down the runway during any given fashion show. But, the truth is, runway fashion can hold the key to a wealth of style inspiration for anyone, from any walk of life. The trick is knowing how to look at runway for the real world.
Runway looks are meant to represent fantasy, not necessarily reality. The clothing will all be sold and worn by real people. But the looks themselves are often created to stand as a source of inspiration, or a walking piece of art that embodies a statement the designer is trying to make. Anyone can get ideas about their own style by looking at the some of the most fundamental elements of runway shows. And, because runway looks form the basis for the trends that end up in the storefronts of mainstream retailers, once you have your inspiration, it’s possible to go out and actually create these looks on your own.
Here are some good places to start:
Creating a stylish and fresh silhouette is the first step toward finding your own personal style. Common looks, such as skinny jeans with heels and loose tees, originated on the runway. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on a pair of jeans or an old T-shirt to create a look with this same effortlessly cool silhouette. The same goes for any silhouette prominent on the runway. It can serve as a source of inspiration for the outline of an outfit.
A cool silhouette in last season’s Spring 2012 shows was the Gatsby-style 20’s drop-waist. On the runway, the looks are a little out-of-this-world. But, in reality, this is a very flattering and simple silhouette to create.
Drop-waist styles at Marni, Etro, and Victoria Beckham via UpscaleHype, Coolspotters, and SammyDVintage.
The silhouette trickled down to mainstream retailers this year and is in stores across the country now:
The prices are also reasonable at $27.80, $89.40, $49.71, and $59, respectively. If dresses aren’t your thing, or you need to look a little more professional, try pairing a drop-waist dress with a pair of skinnies and pointed-toe heels, like the styling in the Victoria Beckham show above.
Runway shows also provide inspiration for color. Some of the most popular hues in the 2012 spring shows were minty, dusty pastels:
Image from Elle.com
No matter where you shop now, these colors are not hard to find.
Runway looks can also provide amazing inspiration for print. Incorporating some interesting print into your wardrobe is the perfect way to add a little interest and playful flair. Huge, geometric floral prints were popular in the Spring 2012 shows:
Oscar de la Renta, Diane Von Furstenburg via Style.com
Almost exact replicas can be found now at major retailers:
Something difficult remember when looking at runway fashion is the fact that many of the looks are combinations of individual pieces, or separates, that are actually very real-world appropriate. Even though the runway looks are put together in ways that represent more fantasy than reality, once you actually inspect the individual pieces, a lot of them are totally wearable.
These looks from the Spring 2012 shows are not for the faint of heart:
Derek Lam, Thakoon via Winnipegstyle.ca and Style.com
But, the geometric, boxy Derek Lam top is actually really cool. Take away the helmet and matching skirt, and anyone could pair a top like that with some simple trousers, a pair of skinny jeans, or a pencil skirt and create a modern daytime look. The same goes for the bright, paisley Thakoon pants. The mixed runway pairing may look nuts at first, but, after a closer look, the pants are awesome and would work with any basic top. So would the jacket.
Check out these real-world pieces, which are very similar to their runway counterparts:
Another great way to get inspired by runway is to look for the feeling designers evoke with a collection. Sometimes I’m inspired by shows that are dark and gothic. Other times I feel inspired by the complete opposite. If you’ve noticed recent fashion editorials, music videos and red carpet events covered with ladylike styles from the 40s and 50’s, it could be because some of the biggest fashion houses were exploring very feminine, ladylike silhouettes and styling this past season:
Dior, Dolce and Gabanna and Lois Vuitton via Style.com
This feeling in easy to capture in a real-world way:
The light blue dress is available at ASOS, the pink dress is from Forever21, and the dark blue pencil dress is by ASOS.
Even though the fashion industry is ultimately a business, fashion itself is a form of art. So is personal style. My advice for understanding runway fashion is to look at it, not as something to be copied piece by piece, but, instead, as one, big, inspiration board for carving out your personal style.