Developing Personal Style – Collecting Inspirations

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My Pinterest – Do you see Khatu & Cee in there? :)

A while ago, I wrote about developing personal style, and how part of the reason for me starting Alterations Needed was my frustration with not being able to dress how I wanted. When I made a pact with myself to dress the way I really wanted, I also had to start thinking seriously about what I was going to purchase in order to build my wardrobe. I wanted my purchases to be deliberate and calculated, so that one day they would all culminate into a beautiful wardrobe that I could happily stare at, sleepy-eyed in the morning, and day-dream about all the fabulous outfits I could don to start my day (okay, so I’m not quite there yet, but maybe someday).

Now, let me share with you one of the most important steps I take in developing my personal style and building my wardrobe…collecting inspirations.

This is something I’m still always actively doing, and can be really really helpful if you’re at a point where you just don’t know where to start, or have no idea in the world what your personal style is.

1. Collect photos that speak to you. Keeping them fashion related makes more sense, but they can really be of anything. Try to think about what it is about the image you like. Is it the whole look? One important detail? The colors? The mood? There are lots of ways you can collect photos, like:

– Cut photos out of magazines and pin them on a cork board near your closet.- Keep a folder on your computer desktop where you save photos you find on the internet. Mine is called “Fashion Inspiration”.  :)- Use an internet service like Tumblr or Pinterest to create a virtual pinboard of photos. I just created a Pinterest account for myself a few days ago and really like how I can see all my style inspirations in one beautiful layout. I think Pinterest will be my new photo inspiration collection of choice.  
*Pinterest is invite only at the moment. I’ve heard requesting an invite from their homepage only takes a day or two, but if you’d like to get started right away, send me an email at and I’ll send you an invite.

2. Look for patterns in the photos you’re collecting. Do quite a few of them share a similar item of clothing? Similar colors? Similar shapes and silhouettes? It’s much easier to realize what styles you’re attracted to if you can see them all laid out in front of you. For example, here’s some of my early photo collections:


See a pattern? My subconscious was telling me to buy blazers…and now it’s one of my signature looks.

3. Recreate the looks you’ve collected to the best of your closet’s abilities. Even if you don’t wear these outfits outside the safety of your bedroom, you’ll start to get a feel for the crucial items that keep reoccurring in the styles you like, that are missing in your wardrobe.

Have fun collecting fashion inspirations, and I’ll have another installment of Developing Personal Style for you soon!


Read More Developing Personal Style »

Do you collect style inspirations? Where do you keep your collection?

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  1. Oh and I wanted to add – before I started blogging I started just a simple folder on my desk top of “outfit inspirations” and I have to tell you – I have a few of you with your head cut off :P (prior to your “coming out”)  ;)

    1. Awww…shucks…so glad I could send a little inspiration your way. :)

      I found a photo of Chloe Conspiracy in my “inspiration” folder I saved from way before I started reading her blog. She’s hiding her face, but now that I look at it, I can tell it’s her!

  2. says: Cee

    To be in such great company… thank you Kelly! :) Though the inspiration of my outfit came from J.Crew so they deserve all the credit!

    Before I knew of Pinterest, I would save all my photos and upload them onto Google Photos so I can browse from anywhere with Internet access.

    Speaking of inspirations, have you seen this site? One of my favorite bloggers tweeted it and I thought of you, but kept forgetting to pass it along to you.

    1. Models wearing J.Crew during a perfectly styled photoshoot is way less cool than a stylish petite putting together an outfit from her closet…so I give YOU the credit. :)

      I have seen Tomboy Style! Why I haven’t added it to my Google Reader yet, I’m not sure. Adding it now!

  3. says: Amber

    great idea, kelly! i’ll try to save the pics im looking at so i can try to find some patterns :) you definitely wear blazers perfectly!

  4. I need to better organize my style clippings…  Currently I use the Lucky Magazine stickers and just post them to pages of ALL my magazines I subscribe to, which totals 8.  These are great tips and I am going to get myself a mood board so I am not a crazy lady searching through 20 issues of various mags!  

  5. says: R evanche

    Well, without a doubt, you gals are the ones that I refer to for inspiration and to correct my mistake-buys of the past.  I’ve not been brave enough (or had the time) to venture into petite style blogging myself but I love checking to see what you ladies are up to and slowly try things that you’ve all shown *do* work and are actually findable in the real world.  I had given up on shopping for years before discovering you thanks to another PF blogger.   Thanks for sharing your inspirations and style!

    1. Aww…thank you SO much! Just writing this blog has really helped my personal style evolve into something more interesting. The pressure of showing something creative or different is really a great pushing factor…in case you’re looking for a reason to finally start that petite fashion blog. ;)

    1. Ahhh!!! I love her!! Thank you so much for sharing that link! I saved one of those photos of her from The Sartorialist a long time ago but didn’t know who she was, or even that her style has been so photographed. She’s awesome!

      And yeah, I lose things in my Google Reader ALL THE TIME! :P

  6. says: KL

    I collect inspiration (outfits, jewelry, and just plain pretty things) in Evernote, which has become my archival brain. It’s great because I can save images/text directly to the database and have a local copy, so I’m not relying on the longevity of the Internet. And Evernote uploads everything to its own cloud, so I can access it online as well and don’t have to worry about backups.

  7. says: Rebecca Lau

    I do it the old school way since I have many magazine subscriptions. I cut pictures out of old magazines and put them in a sticky photo album. I also occasionally purge pictures that I don’t like anymore. 

    1. I need to start doing that again too. I have a lot of magazines with cool outfits that I’ve flagged with stickers that I need to do something with. Although I use a cork board, the photo album sounds like a lot of fun to flip through…like your own personal magazine!

    1. I used to print the photos I found on the web that I liked, so I could pin them on a cork board, but that ate up so much expensive color ink that I quit. Pinterest has been much more feasible. :)

  8. I recently started doing this and it has helped SO much with those sleepy mornings when I feel like I have nothing to wear! A few of your outfits have definitely made it into my Inspiration folder, too. :)

  9. says: Olyvia

    Kelly, you’re always so helpful! I took this advice from your comment reply in the your previous personal style post, and I spent a day making a collage of clothing items I’m attracted to and posted it on my blog so I can refer to it when I have the shopping itch. It really is starting to help me focus on what to buy instead of buying random things impulsively! Love your advices!

  10. says: Michelle

    The image of Khatu that you have on Pinterest is my favorite outfit that I have seen her in!! I love that you chose that one!!

    I have a bunch of tear outs from magazines in a file.  I rarely look through them, though.  :/

  11. says: New Petite

    You have a skirt very similar to the last pic right? Another thing that made me think about you while watching TV was how Kris Jenner had styled her scarf as a bow tie kinda thing on a button down blouse and looked so good!! Hope you try that sometime :) 

  12. Great tips, Kelly!  I might give Pinterest a try.

    For some inspiration I really love to reflect on pieces of artwork that speak to me, my favorite (at the moment) colors and the timeless look of old Hollywood. There’s something about the 40’s-60’s era that I love. 

  13. says: Annie

    Just came across your website, Kelly.  Wow, wow, wow!  I am in love.  Your story sounds so similar to mine and I am at the very beginning stages of learning how to flatter the petite figure I’ve been blessed with.  This is exactly the resource I’ve been looking for.  Love the outfit ideas and images.  You are too cute!  Keep on keepin’ on, lady.

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