Fashion involves many types of knowledge and skill. It also requires creativity, and sometimes you feel like it’s just not there. When your creative well runs dry, it often doesn’t help to keep dipping your bucket back in, hoping for inspiration. Rather than trying to force yourself into a more imaginative mode, sometimes it’s better to step away from the project at-hand and do something entirely different. Fashion magazines and retail clothing stores are a great place to start, and you may have your own go-to sources of inspiration. Here are a few other ideas you may not have thought of:

Art Museums—The dialogue between art and fashion has been going on for many centuries. Painters have inspired fashion designers and vice versa. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area we are blessed with lots of museums to choose from. We have the DeYoung, the Asian Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Palace of the Legion of Honor—among others—just within the San Francisco city limits. The larger region boasts the Oakland Museum of California and the Cantor Center at Stanford, as well as numerous others. Find a more complete list here: http://www.sfbayareagalleryguide.com/
Couture knitwear designer Kaffe Fassett describes how the Victoria & Albert Museum in London became a frequent source of inspiration for him. He took “endless walks through the imagination-expanding collections. The cases of the museum became like so many flower beds in a favourite garden that you never tire of exploring.” Concerned your work might resemble another artist’s work too closely? Fassett explains how this is unlikely to happen: “… in my work, only vague references to the sources can be discerned.” Avant-garde fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has something similar to say about this worry: “I take something from the past which has a sort of vitality … and get very intense … you get so involved with it that you end up doing something original because you overlay your own ideas.”

 

Movies—Today’s films are typically multi-million dollar productions, and the costume designers for these movies usually have much bigger budgets than they would for a stage production. The result is exquisite costumes and lots of them! Once again, you might feel like you’re playing hooky by going to a movie rather than “working” on your project. Reassure yourself that you are doing valuable research, and it will pay off. A little popcorn could be a source of inspiration, too (you never know!), so go ahead and treat yourself while you’re there.

 

Nature/Gardens—Taking a hike or exploring your local park or botanical garden can be a gentle way to jog your mind and prompt fresh thinking. We are so lucky in the Bay Area, in general, but especially near Cañada College where hiking trails abound! The County of San Mateo Parks Department alone offers 17 trails! More information here: http://parks.smcgov.org/san-mateo-county-trails We’re also lucky enough to have the Peninsula Open Space District (POST), which offers a hiking guide containing information about all of its parks and trails. Download the guide here: https://openspacetrust.org/guide-download/

 

Flea Markets—Flea markets are a great place to see a wide range of items, not just clothing. A china tea cup, a Persian rug, an unusual lamp or a vintage toy might trigger a design element you can incorporate into your project. Second-hand shops, estate and garage sales are all places where you can find a broad assortment of things, all in one place. And if you find something particularly interesting, it usually doesn’t cost much to take it home with you. You can also usually take a photo. (Sometimes it’s good to ask first.)

 

People-Watching—Sitting at a café may not look like work, but it can be if you pay close attention to your surroundings. Take a close look at the passersby. What colors are they wearing? What silhouettes? What accessories? Maybe someone has an especially cute dog that inspires you to add a faux fur collar to your garment. You never know what will call to you. Just get out there and look!

 

Books—Go to your local library or book store and explore. Don’t restrict yourself to the fashion section, although this may be a perfect starting point. You will find lots of books containing photos of all kinds, any of which could spark the idea that carries your project on to the next stage. You may also have some in your own collection that you’ve forgotten about. Scan your shelves for something that got your attention in the past and see what it was that grabbed you in the first place.Fashion involves many types of knowledge and skill. It also requires creativity, and sometimes you feel like it’s just not there. When your creative well runs dry, it often doesn’t help to keep dipping your bucket back in, hoping for inspiration. Rather than trying to force yourself into a more imaginative mode, it’s often better to step away from the project at-hand and do something entirely different.