Inspiration vs Imitation

What’s the difference between inspiration, being inspired by something, and imitation, or just doing the exact same thing as everyone else? Is one better than the other?

When I’m struggling for new ideas of how to put my outfits together, I like to turn to the internet to find some new ideas of how to rework my wardrobe. Pinterest, Instagram and even Google images are good places to find some ways to refresh or research your current style.

I love to gather inspiration from people who create their own ideas and interpretations of outfits as they might have a personal twist that makes it work better, or a combination of features that don’t look like they’d work, but actually work better than imagined.

Whatever method you’re using to find new outfit ideas, it’s not a bad idea to be mindful of how you’re processing this information. There are two ways that you can choose to respond to these pieces of creativity.

Being Inspired by Others

Inspiration is exactly as it sounds – it’s admiring the work and creativity of other people, and using the features and ideas in that piece of work to set the foundation for your own piece of art.

Throughout history, inspiration has always been used to create new things out of the old, with a little twist added in there. It’s also a method to give a nod to the piece that inspired the new creation, so it can be a great way of appreciating the ideas that came before it.

When it comes to personal style, you could be inspired by Victorian fashion for instance. It may be the ruching on the shoulders of dresses, or the broderie anglaise patterns all across their garments. However you might not be a fan of tight corsets, floor-length dresses or high neck collars. So, taking inspiration from these Victorian designs, you look for garments with puffy, ruched shoulders and broderie anglaise designs, but maybe it’s a little shift dress with short sleeves instead.

As a result, you’ve created your own sense of style using criteria for silhouettes that you prefer, yet using ideas from someone else at the same time. You are basically using your own initiative and putting your own personal touch, your own stamp on something. That’s what makes inspiration work, you make something unique and original out of it in the end.

You may have even adapted a design feature that you know doesn’t work for your height or you don’t like the look of, and chosen a garment shape that you prefer to wear. These are examples of taking inspiration from other people to make your own interpretation of an outfit in this case.

Taking inspiration is generally a good and healthy way of developing your own creations, because you are picking and taking samples of particular features that are desirable to you and your preferences, while leaving out any thing that might not suit you quite as well. You are also making good use of practicing your inventiveness for imagining new ways of doing things, and either way, what’s the point if you just did the same thing as someone else anyway?

Imitating What You See

On the other hand, some may respond to great influences by imitating what they see, and possibly copy most of what they see.

Now I don’t have any problems if people actually do this, and if people want to copy something closely because they like it and enjoy it, so long as it’s not copyrighting any legal material, then by all means it should be enjoyed. And sometimes, one idea from one person might actually work really well for someone else too.

But this is where you have to be careful, as trying to copy someone else and not getting the same results can often result in disappointment. The best example can come back to outfit inspirations again. I usually find this issue come up with myself, as in the past when doing some online clothes shopping, I’d see a photo of an item of clothing on the website’s model and really like the vibe of the whole outfit. Naturally, it makes me want to try that exact outfit on myself, and I find that sometimes it doesn’t work as well. It might be that the dimensions of the item come down longer on me, like what should be a mini skirt looks like a knee length skirt, so it’s not always the right fit. Or I might even have that mini skirt, but I realize I don’t feel comfortable in it.

So imitating other people isn’t always the best way to create a sense of style of your own, and you might get lost in the styles of other people instead of developing a style that you like. This is because we’re all unique in the way we’re built, so naturally what works for one person might not be the same for someone else.

Though in saying that, it’s not all bad.

To get an idea of what your personal style might be, you have to start somewhere right? If you’re just finding your feet through other people’s outfit combinations, it’s important to review those style choices, and see what bits you really like, and what bits you don’t. You might find that by copying someone else, it can help you see and discover your preferred style by trial and improvement.

So by giving some ideas a try for yourself, even if it’s not exactly tailored for you, it can still get you on the path to finding out what you like. The fact that something has caught your attention in the first place and given you the motivation to try something new is more or less a good testament to it’s influence again.

I hope this helps you to understand the difference between taking inspiration and turning it into something sort of new, and taking something and trying to do the same thing again. There are actually good points for doing either things in response to some ideas, so it’s good to know that neither option is a bad choice. The most important thing here is being able to make choices that feel right to you, and that is the main thing you want to get out of this.

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