Who Are Your Influences?

style-influencesA question often asked of musicians, but can just as easily be put to ANYONE interested in style, clothing, dressing, and associated things:

Who are your influences? Who would you say has had the most profound impact on your personal style? Parents? Sibs? Celebs? Friends? Coworkers?

My mom has been a major influence on my style for much of my life, although more so early on. I’ve mentioned that she’s made me countless dresses over the years, and having that collaborative relationship right there at home – picking out patterns and cloth together, getting her advice on fit and flattery – was an amazing gift. We are very different body shapes, have different tastes, and are (obviously) from different generations, but I’d cite her as my first and most important influence. Even before I knew I liked clothes, I knew I liked contributing my small piece to the dresses she made me. And I realize now that I absorbed a lot of information about construction and design during those brainstorming sessions.

Running a close second are my fellow style bloggers. Too many to list, but the three you see at the top are constantly influencing my stylistic decisions. Audi challenges me to create unusual combinations of pieces, and use items however I want, regardless of how they are INTENDED to be used. Elsita (my relatively recent girl crush) challenges me to be feminine without being girly, foofy, or saccharine. And Erin challenges me to embrace my inner rocker chick without going overboard.

Husband Mike exerts a ton of influence on my style, but in the best possible way. He isn’t a snarky, controlling husband who kvetches when I wear formless sweaters or picks out my clothes for me when I get it wrong. But he helps me understand my proportions with thoughtful comments, encourages me to branch out and explore my own style, and can accessorize me like no one else. Plus he always tells me when he likes what I’m wearing. And I take note.

I can’t say that I have a celebrity style icon, per se, but celeb looks definitely influence how I shop and dress. I look to Rachel Bilson, Jennifer Aniston, Mandy Moore, and Reese Witherspoon to see slightly edgier, more of-the-moment versions of my own look. I adore Cate Blanchett’s style, too, though I see her in evening gowns more often than anything else, and I’m far more interested in coffee shop wear than red carpet garb.

  • This post is from 2009 originally. More current posts on my style evolution here and here!

Images courtesy (from left to right) Fashion for Nerds, The Hidden Seed, and Work With What You’ve Got, many of which are now defunct.

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33 Responses to “Who Are Your Influences?”

  1. everybodysaysdont

    Thanks for telling me about "the hidden seed" she has great style indeed! I love her choice of colours.

  2. Meli22

    My (fellow!?) style bloggers: E from Academichic, Jane from The small fabric of my life, and Kimberly from Fab Finds Under $50 really inspire me in different ways. Kimberly inspires me to accessorize and to keep spending down, Jane inspired me with her year-long ban, her interesting combinations, her determination, and some of her experiments (wardrobe challenge anyone!) E! from Academichic has a style sense to my tastes. There are many, many more (everyone I follow, actually) but these are the top contenders!

    As for celebrity style- erm, not so much? I mean, very few celebrities inspire me. I do love the classic looks of Jennifer Aniston. I'm also loving the model Chanel Iman right now.

    My family never really inspired me in the style separtment.

    My mom is a 5'7 under 100lb. toothpick and always has been (I mean, at 12 I weighed more than her!!) She always wore men's jeans at home casually with turtlenecks, and for work she had these (IMO) old-foggie type clothing (floor length skirts!) that were all thrifted. She ONLY wore crew-necks, and never showed skin! Her sense of style never was mine- I love classic but sexy, my mom just never went for sexy. She always was covered up head-to-toe. We were always so poor, everything we had was given to us from family members that thrift shopped, or my mom went thrifting. We never had anything new. Not to say that you can't thirft and look good- but it takes effort and time and initiative, and I think the main point for my mother was that we were clothed.

    I have no sisters, and the rest of my family isn't close by. So I have struggled in the style department for years (once I realized, at a late age, that style and clothing did matter).

  3. Q's Daydream

    Oh, they are so cute! I've never seen any of them! I have to say old films really influence me, as well as all the adorable bloggers and my Mom. Yes, and even Elvis, Lol, big surprise huh!? ;o)

  4. Leah

    It's just me… I guess I learned from experience (I'm over 40) what looks good on me. I don't experiment with styles because what may look good on another person does not necessarily mean it'll look good on me.

  5. ranksubjugation

    A while ago, I realized that all of my style icons were men: Kurt Cobain, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, etc. I had thought I was inspired by their musical genres… until I realized that I was kind of dressing like a boy.

    I am still trying to find new, female icons to help me reconcile the looks I love with the body I have — but it's tough! So far, I've come up with Selma Blair — I really like her quirky/preppy thing; the concept of a deteriorated/twisted conservative look speaks to me in a similar way that grunge does.

    In any case, I think it's a great question to keep in mind. In my case, it helped me figure out why certain things weren't working for me!

  6. Oranges And Apples

    This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer. It's a variety of sources: members of wardroberemix on flickr, fellow bloggers, friends and colleagues (different people at different times), random people in the street, Blair Waldorf (no sympathy for the character whatsoever, but love the clothes) my boyfriend/partner who is an excellent shopper (particularly for jackets) and tells it how he sees it, which I appreciate. If something is ridiculous looking I want to be told. I may still wear it, but at least it was a considered choice. Assorted members of indie bands, the occassional actress.

    I feel fairly settled in my style now and tend to seek out other multicoloured dressers for inspiration. Bits and bobbins and Vasiliisa off WR spring to mind. I still like looking at bloggers with a completely different style to me, and I'm sure there is some sort of influence, even if it is much more diffuse.

  7. Elsita :)

    Thank you Sally for this post πŸ™‚

    My first influence regarding style was my friend Acela. We met each other when we were about 14. She had/has a natural sense of style, effortless. We were pretty poor, so we couldn't afford pretty clothes but she sew amazing skirts and tops out of old bed sheets. She now has a passion for vintage and her eye is so sharp. You can put her in a store full of trash and she will see the little raw diamond in the pile of trash.

    From the "celebrity world" I admire a lady that used to be my neighbor in Cuba. She was a celebrity in our neighborhood because of her brave combinations of colors and hair styles. The lady was old but with a young heart. Each day was a celebration of style for her.

    She decided to get married when she was seventy something and her wedding was amazing, the most colorful event ever. From her I learned that in terms of style what really works is what makes you happy.

    Have a great day!
    Elsita πŸ™‚

  8. WendyB

    Hmmm…this is a good question. Probably my designing friends Zang Toi and Christian Francis Roth, right? Since they're literally making a good portion of the clothes I wear.

  9. amys

    I can't imagine my husband having a helpful suggestion about my outfits -certainly not accessorizing. You are very lucky!
    Occasionally we get dressed separately to go out and realize we've put on the same color shirt/bottom…

  10. kristophine

    Originally, my sister. But pink fake fur tube-tops only go so far.

    Now: Scully, seasons 4 and 5. I love my trench-coats and suiting separates.

  11. Kelly

    Bloggers are definitely my #1 influence. I don't have a lot of people in my life who put effort into their style, which is why I scoped out the fashion blogger scene in the first place!

  12. Annie

    Lauren Hutton and Katherine Hepburn – the former still dresses with classic, casual, timeless style; the latter had a similar ease about the way she dressed and also had a classic style. Both of these beautiful women flouted the conventions of fashion and developed their own individual looks. In every photo I've seen of these two women, they seem completely comfortable in their own skin. That is something I strive for. Once I have mastered that, I think it will be easier to develop my own personal style and I'll look great in whatever I wear because I'll feel confident.

  13. lisa

    Hmm good question. I'm influenced by TV shows, magazines, blogs, peers…my mom really influenced me from a young age with her classic taste and eye for design. When I was younger, she used to help me pick out my clothes and the pieces she picked always earned loads of compliments.

  14. futurelint

    I think my "original" style icons, the ones who made me think about what I was wearing for the first time were Cyndi Lauper and Helen Hunt's character in Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. I was like seven and suddenly learned to sew and started dress like a nut. I was really upset when my mom wouldn't let me dye my hair like Cyndi Lauper when I was in second grade…

    Now, I love all the inspiration in Wardrobe Remix and on personal fashion blogs. For celebs, it's the Olsen twins and Zooey Deschanel.

  15. budget chic

    My style icons are Sarah Jessica Parker, love, love, love her! I also like Rachel Bilson for some of the mature looks she picks. I love Dita Von Teese for her campy rockabilly style and I love everything that BCBG Max Azria creates.

  16. burntphotograph

    my style icons are zooey deschanel, schuyler fisk, and blair waldorf… the preppy, feminine, "dressed-up but not over dressed" vibes.

    however, since i have height and weight on them, i'm more likely to dress similar to the j.crew catalogs shots. i get great color combination from them as well as layering techniques. πŸ™‚

  17. Pretty Little Pictures

    I do love Zooey, but really at the end of the day its people like you, fellow fashion bloggers and wardrobe_emixers. They are a TONNE of inspiration πŸ™‚

  18. Rosie Unknown

    Hmm, I have never really thought about my style icons, I have always just sort of mixed what I liked together, based on how I was feeling.

  19. Couture Cookie

    I definitely prefer coffee shop wear over red carpet gowns as well. I don't think I look to specific people for inspiration… it usually comes to me pretty easily. There are a lot of celebs, whose style I really admire though – probably the same ladies that everyone else seems to like! πŸ™‚

  20. orominuialwen

    My biggest influence is by far my mom. Our body types are similar enough that we can wear many of the same styles, but I'm smaller than her in every dimension (height, weight, shoe size), so we can't usually wear the same clothing, with the exception of a few hand-me-downs I have from before she had me. Her love of long, flowing Indian cotton skirts has inspired mine, her vast jewelry collection has inspired mine, and I'm currently trying to incorporate blazers into my outfits more. (She wears them all the time, including with the aforementioned skirts.) Even though we usually look good in completely different colors, she is an excellent judge of what will be flattering.

    Several of my roommates are also a big influence on me. They've inspired me to do things like start wearing belts, and search for more dresses I can wear on normal days.

    As far as fashion bloggers go, the ones I love most are Kasmira from What I Wore Today, Audi from Fashion for Nerds, Emily from Some Girls Wander by Mistake, Elsita from The Hidden Seed, and YOU!

    I'm not much interested in celebrity style, so I can't say I have any inspiration in that arena.

  21. Caitlin

    Well, I'm in that awkward stage between "college whatever" and "oh-my-word-I-need-to-get-a-real-job." So slowly I've been trying to update my wardrobe so I'll look my age.

    I love retro-esque clothes- circle skirts, darted bodices, sashes and belts, buttons, and cute patterns. Plus, styles from the 50s suit my body type…it's hard to be under five feet tall with a very curvy body without dressing yourself like an oversized six-year-old!

    I also love pretty much anything that Kate Nash or Zooey Deschanel wear. I can't afford their clothes…so I copy them and make them myself! My current project is a yummy red corduroy coat similar to one I saw Zooey wear.

    I still have room (and the time) grow up, though. I don't wear any jewelry except my engagement ring, and my shoes are pretty much all beat-up ballet flats. But that just gives me more excuse to spend time on spiffy fashion blogs!! πŸ™‚

  22. Casey

    Oh golly… my fashion influences/role models are constantly changing! πŸ˜‰ I definitely have to say that my mom is a big influence: although our styles differ quite a bit, she taught me the importance of dressing well (both on a daily and proper clothes for special occasions) and choosing things that flatter. Both of which I consider the cornerstone of dressing.

    I would have to say that style bloggers tend to be the next group of people that influence me. I don't pay a huge amount of attention to celebrities and even runway style; I prefer the very creative realm of fashion bloggers and their lovely outfits and ideas! I really love seeing other "regular gals" mix trends with wardrobe staples and vintage. It's always amazing to see what creative ideas others come up with! πŸ™‚

  23. bluerose

    I don't have one single inspiration. As a 40+ appleshaped person who dresses against all the "rules", there is no literal inspiration around for me. But many bloggers inspire me partially. You are one of them, as I often can relate to proportions or color combinations in your outfits. Plus, I also draw a lot of inspiration from certain designers with welldefined visions.

  24. Sal

    Gosh, ladies, I am SUPER flattered to see that some of you list ME as an influence! orominuialwen and bluerose you are so sweet.

  25. Jamie Michelle

    Annie Hurlbut of Peruvian Connection. I know she's still highly involved in the buying and styling of her catalog line … this is my fantasy wardrobe, and perhaps even my fantasy life!

  26. Work With What You've Got

    First, I am so super flattered there are no words. That really made my day. THANK YOU.

    A year ago I would have said the Olson Twins. And I still really dig both of the girls individual styles. But on a day to day reall life basis, it's bloggers all the way. Bloggers infulance me in ways I don't even notice until after the fact sometimes!~ I would say my favorite blogger style is My Edit. I envy everything she wears!~

  27. Nadine

    Trinny and Susannah! The silver book (title escapes me) had a major impact on my approach to colour.

    The women of my extended family, who know the importance of making an effort.

    Style blogs (don't you just LOVE them?) – I grab ideas from anywhere and everywhere, but at the moment I'm especially inspired by Audi, Garance, the Academichics, and the fabulous Lady Smaggle.

    And also the archetype of the woman in a dress walking along a beach. You know the one, you've seen it a thousand times. That image exerts a huge influence over my shopping decisions – "Can I wear it on a beach?"

  28. Audi

    Aw, thanks Sal! I'm just getting caught up on all my post-vacay reading; what a nice surprise to see this!

    As far as celebs go, my influences have always been the quirky boundary-pushers: Bjork, Maggie Gyllenhaal, people like that. I may not always LIKE what they wear, but I admire the originality in wearing it. But by far my biggest day-to-day influences are other bloggers and stylish folks I see on the street. Also, the entire city of Copenhagen: those are some of the most stylish people on earth, and I just love the Scandinavian aesthetic.

  29. Anonymous

    i am inspired by lauren condrad. her style is fresh,chic, and bohemian. you also inspire me and seventeen magazine

  30. enc

    I never take celebrities' style seriously, as so many of them have stylists behind them. I only care if a girl chooses all her own clothes, and we'll never know the truth about that, will we? Yes, I'm cynical.

  31. The Seeker

    two blogs I didn't know about, must check them.

    My mother was my first style influence, always trying to look classy and elegant and dressing her daughters in trends.
    We had not very oprtunities since things didn't come to the island, but she did many DIY…

    Now I'm influenced by so many things… unfortunatly sometimes not by "what I wish" but "what I must, because people would gossip…"
    And colour combos nature is a great inspiration.

    celebrity style…. no, don't even see them.