This post covers key elements of eclectic style, how to put it together and for whom it works best. Read how to have eclectic style.
- What exactly is Eclectic Style?
- Key Elements of Eclectic Style
- List of Items That Are Rarely Missing in an Eclectic Closet
- How to Style an Eclectic Look?
- Eclectic Outfit Idea
- All Neutrals Eclectic Look
- Romantic Meets Preppy
- Sequins with Camouflage
- Pieces from Different Decades and Styles
- Going Wild with the Look Just for the Fun of It
- What’s the Message that this Style Sends about the Wearer?
- Celebrities with Eclectic Style
- Examples of this Free Spirit Style
What Exactly Is Eclectic Style?
The term Eclectic stems from the Greek word eklektikos meaning selective. In Ancient times, the word referred to philosophers who selected opinions and inspirations from the varies schools of thought. They postulated whichever doctrines fit their own thoughts rather then sticking to just one school.
In the sense of the ancient Greek word, a person donning this fashion direction picks whatever pleases them. They abdonndon all “fashion rules”, but their own.
An eclectic outfit typically encompasses items from different periods and styles. It is tied together by means of color, texture, shape and accessories. The color palette can vary, but often a few neutrals serve to ground the look. Typically, the look has a multitude of fabrics, which differ by patterns, texture or both.
Obviously, this style is difficult to aim for. It can look very different depending of the person’s taste. Therefore, let’s start with what persons of all age and gender choosing this way of dressing have in common.
Key Elements of Eclectic Style
According to the above definition, a huge variety of garments work. It’s just about how to put them together. However, this point is the challenge! This fashion direction requires creativity, trying unconventional combinations, an eye for what you can do with a garment, curation and time to try everything with everything to identify what looks the best (wrong) or stylish. The look is high maintenance! It’s rather an attitude! It’s best for people with an individualistic lifestyle and/or free spirit. People who don’t give a damn about what others think of them. Or like Mademoiselle once said
I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all. – Coco Chanel
Persons donning these outfits are often collectors and curate their wardrobe. Their closets may hold pieces from several decades as well as the newest It piece often mixed with recycled or upcycled clothes like an old shirt revived as a skirt.
List of Items That Are Rarely Missing in an Eclectic Closet
- Big earrings – vintage, modern, Art Deco, contemporary, Victorian – you name it. They can be family heirlooms, costume jewelry, or inexpensive bold statement pieces like BigEarings‘ as a final touch. See above photos for examples.
- Classic wool cable-knit sweater made in Ireland or Scotland. They look for a piece in the traditional design of the cable knit sweater.
- A black and a white T-shirt for layering and grounding of outfits.
- Solid and patterned button-down blouses from a different decade.
- A pair of jeans in their favorite style, no matter of the current trend. Typically, their jeans looks very lived in and hence, individual.
- Solid-color pants,
- Plaid, glen check, herring bone, tweed or corduroy blazer,
- Riding boots,
- Some sort of Wellies,
- Tweed, plaid and floral skirts,
- Garments in sequin, or brocade. These pieces can, but must not be cocktail dresses or evening attire worn at day. See this Ever Pretty review post for eclectic outfits with evening gowns styled for day.
Celebrities with Eclectic Style
Here are some of my favorites: The young Coco Chanel when she still worked as a milliner, Coco Chanel in her British inspired phase, Diane von Fürstenberg, Nicole Richie, Solange, Lyn Slater, Mel(anie) Kobayashi, Miss Papelicios.
As you can see, the looks of these women are not at all similar. This means eclectic style is very unique and personal. Therefore, don’t copy them. It’s their, not your unique style. However, their looks may give you ideas what works. Don’t be a copy cat.
How to Style an Eclectic Look
In the first outfit example, the neutrals are chocolate brown, gray and olive. The fashion color is pink. The scarf picks up the gray, brown and pink. The Irish blazer has a brown, gray and pinkish plaid. Its corduroy collar and trims add texture, which differs from the texture of the sequin skirt. The skirt repeats the pink of the scarf and jacket. The ribbed tights again have a different texture and repeat the pink and gray. It’s of no importance that the pinks and grays are not exactly the same. The color scheme is the overarching idea that makes it work.
Stylist’s tip: Pick a color scheme and a neutral as for grounding. Add to it with colored and textured solids and patterns, lace, trims, tassels and/or fringe. Finish with accessories that support pulling the outfit together.
Eclectic Outfit Explained
The above look consists of contemporary items of Rock’n Roll (studded pumps, leather jacket, belt, bangle), the 1960s (sunglasses) and classic style (cardigan, skirt, bag). Furthermore, there are pieces from summer (cardigan, shoes sunglasses,) and winter (skirt, leather jacket). The pumps and bag repeat the turquoise in the print of the cardigan. The pink in the abstract floral design ties the motorcycle jacket in the look. The combination works well as a summer-to-fall transition outfit.
All Neutrals Eclectic Look
The outfit above uses brown and beige to ground the look. Here different texture (suede, shearling, knit, weave) are used. Furthermore, the leopard print is unexpected with the glen check of the pleated wool skirt and floral print of the neckerchief.
Romantic Meets Preppy
The next example features items from Romantic Style (tulle skirt), the British variation of Preppy Style (wool riding jacket), Rock’n Roll (buckles, studs). The link between the skirt and blazer are the blush in the plaid. The shades of brown in the plaid ground the elements colorwise.
Sequins with Camouflage
The above winter attire features camouflage, sequins, shearling and a black jersey cotton T-shirt. Wearing black and brown together is very modern, i.e. the old fashion rule of not pairing them is broken. Sequins, shearling and knit have distinctly different textures. There is also the play of matte (suede side of the shearling vest and booties) with shine (sequins). The camouflage repeats the various shades of brown and black. Here the aforementioned black T-shirt serves for layering. The flower-inspired belt buckle balances the tough vibe of the camo joggers. Elements are taken from Rock’n Roll (studds, booties), the 1970s (sequins), Modernist (buckle) and contemporary (joggers, vest).
Pieces from Different Decades and Styles
Well, you can mix all patterns when they are gray with black and white. However, this alone would not pull the look into eclectic territory. Here it’s the different decades. A fascinator from the 1950s, a jacket with the bold shoulder pads of the 1980s, leopard print and leather-on-leather trend from the 2010s.
Stylist remark: When the items above were all from the same decade the above ensemble would look costumery.
In the look below, a tartan jacket pulls the various colors of the eclectic style creation together. Despite the seemingly wild combination, it still works for the office in a business casual style workplace.
Going Wild with the Look Just for the Fun of It
In the look below, the mesh dress is for style and fun. Can you believe that a colleague said “Do you wear a see-thru skirt? I was like “No, a mesh dress over jeans.”
What’s the Message that this Style Sends about the Wearer?
These people look stylish because they are confident and persistent enough to make it work. They see their fashion and dressing as an act of art. Some are their own living Barbie doll. These persons won’t fit into one primary and one secondary category like it is the case with the majority of fashion lovers, who have achieved their personal style. The eclectic person’s life stories are too complicated to show the World who they really are with the mix of a dominant and supporting style.
This style is worn by reflective, unique and bold personalities, individualists. These people have learned to express themselves. They often have a strong opinion. They will only change their mind when you come with strong rational (i.e., better arguments or a proof). When they have made up their mind and set a goal, they work hard and focused to achieve it. They know that the road to success is not straight, but learning from prior failures, i.e. trial and error and never giving up. They do not fear to be alone. Nor do they care about what other people might think because they think for themselves. Their attitude is
Be yourself, everyone else is already taken. – Oscar Wilde
This style is very individual and requires a lot of confidence, a great eye for what works, editing and curation. It’s high maintenance. Recall being yourself is your superpower. People with eclectic style get noticed, but not necessarily appreciated for their creativity and abilities. In other words, if this is you and you are employed in a conservative job field, limit your outfit to a primary and secondary element except on weekends. Eclectic style is not a dress for success recipe unless you work in a creative field like personal stylist, fashion industry, art, theater, film and movies, professional dancer or musician, designer, influencer, etc..
Photos of me: G. Kramm
Photos of earrings courtesy to BigEarrings.com
© 2013-2022 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved
This Post Has 4 Comments
It’s all a bit of fun isn’t it? Thank you for sharing the finer points, Nicole!!
I enjoyed reading your post and I learned more about eclectic style. The sequined skirt is very pretty and I lvoe that it is unexpected with the structured blazer. So stylish!
thanks for linking!
Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it.
Again, loving the research-based, peer reviewed work on this fashion blog! Totally agree with you on the subject of eclectic style being a hallmark of the individual; you leave such an indelible mark on us all with each of your pics and posts! Your pink-sequined skirt combo is definitely your personal style, and you make it look both effortless and breathtaking. But, then again, almost every posted picture of you is empirical evidence of your ability to stun us with your wise and alluring fashion choices. Thank you for the lesson and for allowing us to learn from your wonderful style selections!