Easy Peasy Stylistic Inspiration

(NOTE: This post is older, and I’ll admit that Pinterest has long since supplanted my Visual Style Journal … but if you’re old school or just hate recycling magazines full of inspiring images, this technique could still work for you!)

Although I would certainly cite blogs as my main source of stylistic information, I still adore my magazines. I love poring over them and marking pages that showcase styles or items of interest. And I love looking at them again and again, until I’ve figured out how to incorporate those styles or items into my OWN unique look.

But even though Husband Mike and I donate outdated magazines to our office waiting rooms, it feels wasteful to receive, absorb, and discard. Especially since many of the images that catch my eye and styles that capture my fancy are NOT trend-based, and could carry over into coming years … except that they are inevitably eclipsed by the new, trendy, fresh looks that arrive in my mailbox each month.

I have the memory of a gnat, you see. Even things I love fade from my brain quicker than I’d like to admit. And new mags eventually bump old mags from brain-rotation.

So eventually I started ripping out magazine pages to stash for later reference, assuming that if I kept the pages, the inspiration would linger longer. Most were editorial images, but also the occasional ad. For ages, I just kept those pages in a messy stack on my desk at home but when I finally organized them, I was SO PLEASED with the results that I just had to share.

Now, I know many of you keep electronic or physical inspiration boards, but I like things portable. So I bought a durable binder and plastic sheet protectors at my local office supply emporium, and set to organizing my clippings.

I did them up by season, mainly, with simple hand-lettered dividers. As the seasons change, I’ll move the current one forward.

spring spring2

Some pages that I know will interest and inspire me NEXT fall just as much as they did LAST fall.

I also gave myself a slot for seasonless advice … like ways to dress up a white button-down, and a tutorial on layering necklaces, both topics I’ve tackled but not from these same angles.


… and one for advice in general. Good styles for pear-shaped figures, how to pose for a photo, and the like.

Not exactly earth-shattering stuff, I realize, but perfect for my needs at the time. So many women get stylistically stumped on a weekly basis, and long for some tailored visual inspiration. Flipping through a simple binder like this on Sunday afternoon – a binder assembled from images that speak to YOU and you alone – could help spark your creativity. Even if you can’t dedicate a wall to gorgeous magazine imagery, or aren’t interested in assembling digital images into a mouth-watering collage, a simple project like this could be all you need to get your mojo working.

Originally posted 2009-05-05 05:24:00.

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31 Responses to “Easy Peasy Stylistic Inspiration”

  1. Christina Lee

    very cool- my inspirational stuff is just stuffed into a folder and messy-so it rarely gets looked at-not very organized like you! I suscribe to too many mags actually- I have to scale back 😉

  2. Imogen Lamport

    Love your binder – I always suggest my clients keep a binder to help them define their style and work out what they really love, it can also help to guide them where to shop (which designers/brands do the kinds of things that inspire them).

  3. adressandabike

    I love the idea of a binder! I don’t subscribe to any fashion mags but I regularly read the British edition of Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan but until recently have never pulled pages from it to keep track of my style inspirations.

  4. Kate Coveny Hood

    I love magazines. As much as I do like looking things up online – it’s just not the same as paging through glossy pages… You know – I wonder if it’s because when you are surfing the net, you have to decide what to look for. Whereas a magazine just gives it to you page by page.

    This binder idea is great – but it seems more likely something that I’d like to do, but wouldn’t get around to it. But I do love the idea of keeping it organized like that!

  5. Simple Elegance

    I have tried to do this before, but every time I find myself stopping after a few weeks. I like the idea of the plastic sleeves, so I might try that and see if I can get going again.

  6. futurelint

    I’m such a bad fashion blogger, I’ve never in my life bought a fashion magazine! It’s just me and my National Geographic every month! I have a big folder on my computer of inspiration images and I never look at it, you’ve inspired me to try to at least look at them and separate them by season!

  7. Magatha-May

    That is a great idea. I have an envelope folder of interiors ideas and articles but I could never figure out how to display them all. Thanks

  8. jslewis27

    It is a releif to see that I am not the only person who rips images out of magazines and squirrels them away. =)
    Last year I started cutting out pictures of clothing styles I wanted to purchase and taping them into a spiral bound notebook. My coworkers thought I was losing my mind, but it came in very handy while shopping. This year, I started a 3 ring binder with ideas for decorating my home and diy projects.
    I subscribe to Lucky and Domino, although sadly, Domino is no longer. *moment of silence*. They were an incredible source of inspiration for decorating, and I’m now looking for a similar publication to take its place.
    Hope you feel better!

  9. Shelley

    I have a notebook that I put together so I could clean up my magazine collection. I keep only my current issues and when the new ones come I go through the old ones. I save anything that speaks to me, color combos, clothing items, things I would love to own, even interesting ads. It really helps out with the mess and it is great for inspiration!

  10. The Budget Babe

    i only subscribed to one mag for years: W. It’s still my favorite. Recently I started picking up stuff like People StyleWatch, InStyle and Lucky when I needed reading material for the train…and now I’m hooked! I need to scale back cuz I’m a pack rat. I have one binder for inspiration that I need to update, it’s great for collecting “outfit recipes” that I can refer to in a pinch. PS You are too organized!! 🙂

  11. AsianCajuns

    Cath and I have kept binders of inspiration (in a much less organized fashion than your gorgeous binder 😉 for years and years. I still look at the first one I did (eesh 8 years ago) and get inspired. I’ve definitely toned down the mag obsession I used to have, but I still do the clippin’.

    Hope you are feeling better, Sal!

  12. ohhoneyno

    how timely sal! i was just thinking that i should really start doing this, as i’m about to donate/recyle a whole bunch of my fashion mags. i’m a regular instyle and lucky reader, and sometimes get people stylewatch just for a quick shot of inspiration and trends, since it’s all pictures and very little text!


    The book has the same idea as a blog…sometimes I like you really touch the things and plus we can give another propose for the old mags 😉

    Great point!

    Kisses and hugs,

  14. Clare

    My favorite birthday present this year was a brightly colored binder with each blog post printed out inside. It was from Joe, and he said that he wanted me to be able to get inspiration from myself…he is very much a sweetheart. I think I’m going to have to start adding some inspiration from magazines too. I used to subscribe to a few in college, but that has faded off…renewal??

  15. Kelly

    Great idea, and it looks so organized! I keep my inspiration photos all over my vanity to protect the wood from makeup gloobs. Maybe not the best storage…

  16. being red

    i do the same! my binder is separated into 3 sections…fashion, domestics, and travel. i dont know what i would do without it!

  17. Gillian

    Looked at your statement necklace tutorial again, and I am left with only one thing to say. HOLY SHIT YOUR WAIST IS TINY.

  18. Nadine

    Yeah, I do this – doesn’t everyone? I’ve been collecting images on and off for about 15 years. I’m in New Zealand, so I use FQ, Simply You, Next and Vogue Australia.

  19. mysterycreature

    You might just have become my organisation guru! I have a fold just like that for much more boring stuff… but have a dream of a lovely folder like that for all my pretty clippings. As soon as I remember to actually keep the clippings, that is…

  20. Winnie

    This is such a great idea, I want to start my own!

  21. MsDSpeech

    Sweet Sal – hope you’re on the mend!

    Your organizational prowess and moxie are admirable! WOWZA. I wish I had the drive to be that organized. Nicely done.

    My inspiration for years and years and years has been InStyle. I’ve been a subscriber since the second issue.

  22. Allie

    Sal, you’re so good about that. I hear all the recs about actually, physically, manifesting a tangible inspiration book/binder/what have you. I never get around to doing it. Yup, I have folders on my computer stored with inspirational stuff that is so unorganized it sometimes deterrs me from looking at it. Time to change my ways.

  23. sauvageblue

    Love it!!!
    I have always called them my “Inspiration Books” I have many, smile… I have my crafty inspiration books, interior inspiration books and of course style inspiration books and a few combo. I use journals and old school glue my tear outs or cut outs. I even sketch in a design or accessory idea every once in awhile and make notes to myself to use things in my closet.

  24. fleur_delicious

    Hey, I have that same “colour combos for tights” tear in MY inspiration book! Great minds, Sal, great minds!

    I started keeping an inspiration book a few years ago. I use mine as inspiration for shopping, shopping my closet, and for sewing. It’s not so organized – I cut out whatever it is that I like (outfits, shoes, even images of textiles with patterns that I like and might want to reproduce as embroidery or something) and plug them in wherever they fit. The glory of it is that, as I page through it, I can see my aesthetic being expressed in a very thorough way now (I didn’t notice this at first.) I occasionally cull, but most inspiring things in there have had pretty good longevity so far.

    I signed up for a subscription to Lucky last year. I like Lucky because I feel like it has more pictures of the CLOTHES, which is all I really care about; I don’t really read fashion mags, just look. Plus, at $10 for an annual subscription, that’s less than I’d pay for three mags off the newsstand, and I feel sated this way; I don’t NEED that big Vogue spring issue, etc. I also consider my anthro catalogues free “mags,” only those NEVER get cut up. Someday I’ll get over it and recycle the lot, I suppose. But not yet!

  25. Sharon Rose

    Hi there-Although my filing is different to yours, I do exactly the same from my Grazia, Elle and Vogue magazines. I do like the idea of a book style folder, as it would be easier to look at more regularly-thanks for the tip!!

  26. Edi Retnati

    amzing! you have wonderful clipping collection about up to date fashion……. oh yeah, I had to add you on my blogroll…… you can visit me to check it….. if you don’t mind, please add me too….

  27. Tea Lady

    I love this! Totally plan on copying this idea!!

  28. Penelope

    anything that i find helpful, it doesnt even have to be about fashion i just highlight it. a quote, a tip,an advice,anything that catches my eyes, then i will take the same magazine and read everything that i have underline and read it in about a month so that it can be fresh in my mind. Then old magazines that i have since like 2005 i look over it like every 5-6 months!

  29. Nina (femme rationale)

    i used to do this back in high school and i had binders and binders. between several moves and my parents selling their house, they ended up getting tossed out. i still regret it to this day.

  30. Milly

    i did the same thing…i use to rip them out and just stuff them in to a folder…but out of nowhere the hubz came with a binder and sheet protectors and told me this way would be better, which it sure is
    i didn’t do them by season and i might have to after reading your post much easier