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Unexpected Fashion Inspiration

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

By Miranda Heinrich

As fashion enthusiasts, artists, and trendsetters, we are always looking for new ways to express our creativity. Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, and Vogue are just a few commonplaces of inspiration that provide millions of photos with color schemes, outfit combinations, and beautiful layouts. After scrolling on social media, you’ve probably been inspired to add a trendy crop top or a pair of color-block basketball sneakers to your wardrobe. Even the latest hit TV series can be a source of inspiration, like the Netflix show Bridgerton and the subsequent popularization of corset tops.

However, I don’t think that fashion inspiration has to end at real clothing and runway mood boards. If you look hard enough, you can find fashion inspiration wherever you want, whether it be for a fashion design idea or a fully completed outfit. Here are some strange things you may not have considered before.

1.      Cartoons

We’ve all admired looks from movies like Clueless, or aspired to dress like Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl, but what about cartoons?

While designing my final project for Fashion Illustration, I pulled a small piece of clothing design from Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts, an animated TV show by DreamWorks.

This little asymmetrical shoulder piece became one of my favorite parts of my illustrations. What are other cartoons worthy of fashion consideration?

Carmen Sandiego, the protagonist from a 2019 Netflix show by the same name, wears a wide variety of outfits, from her signature red trench coat to an elegant scarlet and gold cocktail dress.

You can probably think of many others, including Kim Possible, which has already become a popular source of fashion inspiration.

2.      Memes

This one may come as a surprise, but memes might be another way to inspire a simple fashion look. Dwayne Johnson’s infamous 1994 “fanny pack” photo may be hilarious, but with the bag worn across the chest, and a couple more mixed silver chains, you may be able to “rock” this monochrome look.

Another popular internet phenomenon, the notorious “worm-on-a-string” toys has already been created into fringe skirts and strange wearable creations.

These looks might balance a fine line between a joke and a look, but it’s still a good way to branch outside of your comfort zone.

3.      Desserts

I don’t know about you, but I have always admired the intricate, ornate decorations in elaborate wedding cakes and mini desserts. If you have ever seen a cake too beautiful to eat, wear it instead!

The layers in tiramisu may make a great outfit color combination, and the piping details lining the edge of a cake could become lace on a dress or blouse.

For example, the colors and fluff of these meringues remind me of Selkie’s gossamer rainbow puff dress. This cute, pastel pastry look could turn out to be a “chef’s kiss” if you’re up for the styling challenge.

4.      Land and Sky: Nature

For a twist on escapist fashion, consider dressing like a meadow, a mountain, or even a playful grassy skyline, like this cloud sweater created by designer Lirika Matoshi.

This idea is truly up to your imagination: you can imitate the colors of a sunset in a cashmere sweater or mix dark green velvet pieces to look like a patch of moss.

To help you find your landscape-fashion inspiration, you can search for pictures of exquisite scenery to spark an idea, or even go through your own camera roll to find a photo you resonate with. Ethereal and infinite in possibility, nature-inspired clothing is among my favorite genres of fashion.

These ideas are just a few that you could use to formulate new fashion ideas and curate your own style. In essence, anything can be fashion if you want it to be. It’s a lot of fun to imagine unique and strange clothing ideas, and you could even be the one that starts a new clothing trend. Above all else, wear what makes you feel like yourself! That, I sincerely believe, is what fashion is for.


What’s your favorite unexpected fashion trend? Let us know on InstagramTwitter, or leave a comment!

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