🎉 Welcome to the inaugural post for the style analysis series! I put the form out less than a week ago and I’ve already got a dozen submissions, so it looks like this is going to be a long-running thing.
Our first board is from Erica! You can check out the live board here.
All subsequent images in this post are pulled from the original board unless otherwise noted.
I like items that seem put together but not too fussy, and I like slim but not tight silhouettes. I think of this style as somewhat French and chic, but can’t say exactly what it is I like about some of the items, besides feeling feminine, stylish, effortless.
I’ve followed the system you described for figuring out “style” from a board and think I am getting closer to what I’m trying to hone in on when I buy new items, but I’d love a more expert eye to help me figure out what to call the style(s) I like and start to translate it to real life situations where I can feel confident about my choices saying what I want them to say.
Mine isn’t too intense since it’s not fantasy or costume-driven. I’m definitely motivated to be able to translate items to something that feels less like an outfit for “a thing” rather than everyday, but I don’t think it’s far off. I also might feel more comfortable not falling back on a sweater and jeans if I felt I could name what look I was aiming for rather than hoping to have inspiration strike when looking into my closet.
Without any further ado, here are my observations, train of thought style. In the interest of actually getting through the submissions with some kind of relevant turnaround, I’m not going to be super structured or edit this section into something quick to reference, but I’ll list things that stood out to me as I looked at all the pictures.
This is a cheerful style! The people look like they probably don’t follow a lot of #mybeigelife accounts on Instagram. There are a lot of happy colors and eye-catching prints. Other than that I’m not getting a super strong color story here, other than things possibly leaning towards cool-undertoned colors. There are a lot of saturated colors but also plenty of neutrals mixed in and some pastels. My first impression is that there are more colorful bottoms than in the average style inspo board or what people tend to wear IRL. There’s print mixing! Overall effect is pretty energetic. Most of the visual interest in the board comes from this area. There’s not a ton of embellishment or highly-textured pieces.
Vintage vibes (1940s and 1950s)– The highly feminine silhouettes reminiscent of the ‘New Look’ show up a lot. There’s feminine details in structured clothing. Non-stretch fabric tops are all fitted with lots of well-placed darts (there aren’t many boxy pieces) and rounded collars, full skirts with gathers, or shaped, well-fitting pencil skirts). I’m seeing this in a lot of the midi skirt fits, which on the whole lean more dressy than the other silhouettes. There’s also a few 1940s menswear-y trouser outfits, but they still feel very cheery and pretty with hair accessories and fun prints. Even with these more structured vintage inspired looks, within that context it’s still more of an everyday vibe than a dressed to the nines high society glamour thing.
Overall the clothes are fairly modest in coverage and (as you mentioned) slim fitting, and though the outfits are colorful, they generally don’t feel extremely youthful because they avoid anything sporty or super kitschy (e.g. more geometric or abstract prints than say, prints of foxes or horses). Not many sneakers or standard-issue tees.
There’s also a casual version of this silhouette with a fitted tee instead of a blouse, which can be a great way to dress it down for more low-key days. If you want to get more of the vintage vibes, I would do a retro hair styling and/or add a scarf headband with a bright lipstick.
I think the full on peter pan collar / delicate blouse + structured midi skirt combo is the one that sticks out the most to me as “an outfit for a thing”, but both elements appear in many other outfits in the board. I just touched on the more dressed down version of the midi skirt silhouette, and I think the easiest option for the vintage-inspired button-down blouses with slim fit trousers or jeans, or shorter skirts in a less poofy cut to feel less like you’re about to attend a Dapper Day event.
You mentioned that you tend to default to a sweater and jeans, so if you can find a sweater or two that has more of a vintage bent to it you could bring more of that into your lazy-day fits without having to fuss about things. I usually think of sweaters like these in regards to 40s / early 50s looks. Something fitted, cropped, with delicate patterning, and a slight puff at the shoulders.
Those are a little harder to find outside of specialty boutiques or true vintage, so something like this fitted pointelle-knit crewneck sweater could also work, particularly if you have a collared layer under it.
Without the collared layer, it’s a little more generic than the style in the board, so you could pair it with shoes and accessories that have a little more flair.
There’s definitely a lower bound on the casual here. For example, there are a lot of Breton tees, but they’re paired with full skirts, not leggings. More “going to look cute today to go to the book shop and cafe” energy rather than “reluctant grocery run” or “brunch that’s actually a photoshoot”. If you’re wearing a lot of tees and jeans, I think an easy up would be finding a cute pair of flats or oxfords, a belt, and watch or bracelet that you could chuck on for a more put-together look.
The other strong silhouettes being ones that were particularly popular around the early 2010s (think OG fashion bloggers) – (1) mini skirt or shorts + cute relatively fitted blouse + tights + ankle boots or flats + fitted cardigan
and (2) skinny trousers + round-toe flats or pumps + untucked hip or tunic length top (or tucked + mid-rise pants). I feel like these also fit in the sort of everyday-femme vibe but are more cute-casual than glamorous. The tops here seem to be on the less ornamented side but generally they come off as very clean-cut.
Polished and ‘outfit’-y, but not formal – most of the outfits are accessorized with one or two of a belt, purse, and jewelry. Most of the models are wearing their hair lightly styled, whether it’s up in a bun or in loose waves. Makeup leans more low-key, with lipstick being the emphasis of choice when there’s something going on there. Hardly any outfits are completely plain. There’s always at least one fun element like brightly colored pants or shoes, a multicolored print, or a girly blouse. But the visual interest comes from the core pieces of clothing themselves, not from piles of accessories or layers. If there’s an accessory, there’s probably one necklace or one cute purse or one scarf, not all at once. I think that’s where the more ‘effortless’ part of the style comes from. While there’s no athleisure fabric, there also isn’t much formal fabric like velvet, satin, or lace, or items that are both structured and sharp (e.g. not a blazer or architectural pieces – if something is in a thicker fabric it’s usually more drapey than starched).
On the whole, I’d describe the board as spring-y, feminine, put-together-casual looks ranging from subdued twee to slightly preppy, with some 40s and 50s era vintage influences. I don’t think I’d call this “french chic” because while that shares some items like the striped tees and oxfords and is a similar level of formality, I usually think of the stereotypical “french” style as more minimal in both color palette and embellishment.
For items, here are some specific items and details that I’d recommend looking into.
- Breton tees, or in general crew neck tees in a relatively sturdy fabric and fitted cut
- Peter pan collars
- Items with crisp polka dot and stripe prints in high-contrast colors
- Full skirts / gathered skirts – midi skirts and mini skirts in fabrics that have body (e.g. ponte or thick linen) to give a more A-line silhouette. Not pencil skirts, if you’re looking for stuff that’s easier to wear casually.
- Colorful skinny stretch trousers/chinos
- Oxford / derby shoes (there are differences between the two for hardcore shoe enthusiasts, but I find that in practice most retailers use ‘oxfords’ for most of these)
- Ballet flats or low-vamp loafers. Loafers seem to be a bit more plentiful in retailers currently.
- Leather belt with minimal buckle
- Round-toed ankle boots (with lower shaft, actually hitting at the ankle, although if it’s a low-key design one with a taller fitted shaft could work too)
- Pointelle sweaters (short sleeve and long sleeve)
- Fitted thinner knit sweaters with a slight puff at the shoulder
- An everyday tote or crossbody that you’re really feeling. Especially for more casual styles, I find that having your purse or backpack emphasize your ideal style rather than take away from it just makes outfits feel better. Based on the board, I’d recommend something minimal or slightly distressed/slouchy in leather, or a smarter-looking canvas option (something with enough structure its shape is more of a purse and less of a reusable grocery tote).
- For peripherals: more toned down styles in outerwear and shoes than the base layer outfit items. There wasn’t much outerwear but I can see a basic peacoat working well.
- This isn’t clothes, but there are high buns all over this board. If your hair is long enough for it, I think it would help a lot towards pulling things together.
A big thanks to Erica for sharing her style board! 📋 If you’re interested in participating in this series, please fill out the form at Free Personalized Style Analysis. As mentioned this is the first of twelve submissions (!!!) at the time of writing, so it might take a few weeks to get to yours if you submit now. I’m hoping to do about three of these a week, but we’ll see how that goes.
How would you describe this style? Any outfit ideas springing to mind? Are there any people or brands you think embody the spirit of these styles that Erica should check out? She already follows Cup of Jo’s Week of Outfits, Kendi Everyday, SimplyCyn, and Sarah’s Real Life. Let us know in the comments! ⬇️ I’m not well-versed in active fashion bloggers, but off the bat I’m thinking that Color Me Courtney wears a lot of bright colors and prints (as you may have guessed) and mostly favors feminine silhouettes, though she wears more crop tops, wide-leg pants, and generally leans more generic influencer-y than prep or twee. Revival Retro features a lot of bloggers and brands that would play into the 1940s and 50s flair. I haven’t purchased from there, but it looks like they carry a sort of higher-end version of stuff I’d associate with Modcloth’s golden age.