This post covers key elements of eclectic style, how to put it together and for whom it works best.
- What exactly is Eclectic Style?
- Key elements of Eclectic Style
- How to Style an Eclectic Look?
- 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 and it can look very different depending of the person’s taste. Thus, 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 garnments 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 garnment, 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 saidI don't care what you think about me. I don't think about you at all. - Coco Chanel #quote #highlatitudestyle Click To Tweet
Persons donning these outfits are often collectors and curate their wardrobe. Their closets may hold pieces that are there for several decades as well as the newest It piece often mixed with recycled or upcycled clothes like an old shirt revived as a skirt.
This large brass and turuqoise magnesite dragonfly inspired dangle would work with the tweed skirt and floral cardigan ensemble. Handmade in the Burlington, VT. Long vintage inspired chandeliers. They would look great with the LOTD with the camo joggers at the bottom of this article
Art Deco inspired dangling earrings. They work with the black, gray and white OOTD.
A modern twist to Chinese knotting crafts are these black satin ribbons with fringes. Lakshmi pink scales or leaves in various tints. They would go perfectly with the pink OOTD later in this post.
Bold Mod Kelly green metal hoops dangling faux pearls. These would be a great finishing touch in the OOTD with the floral print cardigan.
Here is a list of items that are rarely missing in an eclectic closet:
- Big earings – vintage, modern, Art Deco, contemporay, Victorian – you name it. They can be family heirlooms, costume jewelry, or unexpensive bold statement pieces like BigEarings‘ as a final touch.
- Classic wool cable-knit sweater made in Ireland or Scotland. They look for a piece in the tradional 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 what currently is trendy. Most the time they look 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,
- Garnments in sequin, or brocade. This can, but must not be cocktail dresses or evening attire worn at day. See this Ever Pretty review post at the link for examples
Celebrities with eclectic style
Here are some of my favorites: The young Coco Chanel when she still worked as a millnier, Coco Chanel in her British inspired phase, Diane von Fürstenberg, Nicole Richie, Solange, Lyn Slater, Mel(anie) Kobayashi, Miss Papelicios.
As you can see from these examples, their looks are not at all similar. Thus, don’t copy them. It’s their, not your unique style. However, they may give you ideas what works.Don't be a copy cat. #personalstyle #highlatitudestyle Click To Tweet
How to Style an Eclectic Look
In the first outfit example of this post, 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. The blazer has a corduroy collar and trims (texture). The skirt has a different texture and repeats the pink of the scarf and jacket. The ribbed tights again have a different texture and repeat the pink and gray. It doesn’t matter that it is not the exact same pink or gray. 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 tieing the outfit together.
In the above look, contemporay items from Rock’n Roll (studded pumps, leather jacket, belt, bangle), the 1960s (sunglasses) and classic style (cardigan, skirt, bag) are mixed. Furthermore, there are pieces from summer (cardigan, shoes sunglasses,) and winter (skirt, leather jacket). The turquoise in the print of the cardigan is repeated in the pumps and bag. The pink in the abstract floral design ties the morocycle jacket in the look. The combination works well as a summer-to-fall transition outfit.
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 glencheck of the pleated wool skirt and floral print of the neckerchief.
Don’t let your outfit be a random thing. Wear the right look in every situation by looking up what to wear when in How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy the book now
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.
Well, you can mix all patterns when they are gray with black and white. Thus, this alone would not pull the combination 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 customery.
In the look below, a tartan jacket is used to tie the various colors of the eclectic style creation together. Despite the seemingly wild combination, it is still work appropriate in a business casual work environment.
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).
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. OrBe yourself, everyone else is already taken. - Oscar Wilde #quote #highlatitudestyle Click To Tweet
They get noticed, but not necessarily appreciated for their creativity and abilities. In other words, if this is you and you work in a conservative work field, limit your outfit to a primary and secondary element except on weekends. This 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..
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.
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Photos of me: G. Kramm
Photos of earrings courtesy to BigEarrings.com
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