Where to Find Inspiration for your next fashion sketch

Before we get to creating glamorous fashion designs and exquisite illustrations, it all starts with finding inspiration. Sometimes, however, inspiration can be a very fickle thing. It sounds so easy to come up with a creative idea or two, but try doing it on a regular basis, all day, every day, – this sounds a bit harder, right? Even professional fashion designers sometimes find themselves in a creative block due to a lack of inspiration. Their daily life is devoted to being creative, finding new trends and bringing the most original ideas to life.

Now you are probably curious and wonder where do they get all their inspiration from? Well, actually there are plenty of sources, even some uncommon ones. In this article, you will find some tips arranged from A-Z on where and how to find inspiration for your next fashion design collection. Let’s get started!

Best Fashion Inspiration Sources

Architecture

Architecture Building as Inspiration

Buildings and architecture in general have always been a great source of inspiration for many designers. Everything in architecture is based on geometric shapes like squares, rectangles, triangles, etc. Everything starts with a simple line and ends in a more complex shape. The same principal you can apply to you fashion designs.

HOW TO USE IT:

Next time you go out for a walk in the city, take a moment to look at the buildings that surround you and identify the elements in them that bring your attention the most. This could be the lines, colors or overall structures. Then think how you can transfer these elements to the bodice, pants, skirts and accessories in your designs.

Art Museums & Galleries

Art Museums as Inspiration

Another great source for creative inspiration, not only for fashion designers but for artists in general, are the art museums and galleries.

Pick a local museum/gallery or visit an online one and find artwork that touches you. The emotion you feel towards the artwork doesn’t have to be positive. Identifying what you dislike about an artwork as as useful as identifying what you love about another.

HOW TO USE IT:

When you look for inspiration in museums, always remember to bring a camera and/or a sketchbook! You don’t want to miss the chance to snap or scribble down a potentially good idea. Take notes on how you could bring a single element of some piece into your sketches, how certain colors affected you, what sort of textures you’d be interested in trying.

Books and Music

Books as Inspiration source

The visual world in not the only source of creative ideas. You can also pull inspiration for your designs from literature and music. Both of them have a plethora of genres and no matter what type of music/books you prefer, it’s a great idea to explore other styles as an inspiration source.

The vibe of a romance novel, a thriller book and the newspaper are so different, but they all can generate tons of ideas for you.

HOW TO USE IT:

For books you can focus on what is the lead character would wear to show their personality. What colors would they like? Would they prefer more feminine or masculine attire? Would they like plenty of frills and details on their clothes or they’d rather wear simple, clean style of clothes?

For music just listen to the lyrics and try to find what colors/shapes would fir the protagonist feelings best. A playful cheerful song would inspire you in a different way than a sad, serious blues song. The main thing here is that you don’t really need to like the music style. All you need to do is show in your designs how it makes you feel.

Fashion Magazines

Fashion Magazine as Inspiration source

Magazines are perhaps the most popular and common source of creative ideas. Whether you prefer reading it traditionally (on paper) or going for the online version, magazines are more than a generous source of inspiration. Some of the more popular fashion magazines around the world you can check are Bazaar, Vogue, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle.

HOW TO USE IT:

Observe how other designers are building their collections and analyze the key elements – fabric, fit, colors, shapes. Use the key elements to create your own version of the designs. Mix and match ideas and never use just one designer as reference. Always use magazines with cautions – there’s a fine line between “inspired by” and “copied”.

Fashion Runway Shows

Fashion Runway as Inspiration method

What better way than to get ideas and inspiration straight from the “kitchen” where things happen? These are the fashion runway shows where designers celebrate their imagination and set trends! You will notice that every year the collections of the best designers have key trends in common – colors, fabrics, silhouettes or styling. Identify them and sketch your interpretation of the trends!

HOW TO USE IT:

Find the latest fashion shows online and take notes on the popular trends of each season. Look at your favorite designer collection and draw any designs that you loved or collect images of them, but don’t completely copy them! The easiest way to make sure that you’re not a copy cat is to combine elements from 2-3 different designers.

Food

Food as Inspiration method

If you’re feeling uninspired, try going out to your favorite restaurant or cooking your favorite meal. The sensations that go along with eating can be a fantastic way to unleash your creativity. The trick here is to go beyond just eating and really think about your food. You’ve probably already seen that there are many fashion drawings inspired by food on the internet, so you can do it too!

HOW TO USE IT:

Consider the ingredients that are used for the meal, what colors and flavors they have. Define what does each of them add the finished dish. Don’t overlook the presentation of your food, either. Look at the way the food is placed on the plate. All of these things add to the dining experience. Consider how you might be able to apply the same concepts to your fashion projects.

Go shopping

Shopping as Inspiration

Make a little tour to the fashion boutiques and designer stores. Online shopping, is a good option too—many brands have lookbooks on their websites that you can bookmark for inspiration. The key here is to focus on the styling decisions in front of you.

HOW TO USE IT:

Pay attention to how the mannequins are styled. This is a quick method to learn which items are in style for the season and to improve your ability to create captivating looks. Mannequins are often styled to show off multiple items from a store.

History of Fashion

fashion history

As you know fashion hasn’t appeared just yesterday, but has many years behind its back. We know that many trends that we see today are reinterpretation of the old ones and we can use this in our advantage.

HOW TO USE IT:

Explore the abundance of trends, styling ways, and design techniques of the past. To get a grasp on what could possibly come into style next, do a little research on fashion trends from the past years. Books, online articles, documentary movies – these all are at your fingertips!

History Eras

History of costume

Before our time, fashion didn’t change every year. Clothes used to be extremely high quality, time consuming to make and expensive. Everything was hand made and a certain look would remain into fashion for long periods of time. In the fashion history books you can see how each society circle had to wear a certain look. Clothing and accessories were a symbol of social status, occupation and could even tell whether you’re married or not.

HOW TO USE IT:

Make a research on the different decades and cultures of the past – what did they wear, what were the decorations they put on. Research your favorite era- Ancient Egypt, Greece, the Renaissance and make a collection influenced by it. But remember – in order to look modern and relevant, you can’t use everything as it was – give it your own twist!

Interiors

Interior as Inspiration

Simillar to architecture, interiors are also a great source of aesthetic inspiration for your sketches. Just like fashion design, interior design also requires a great deal of creativity on a daily basis. It also has its own trends, color palettes and different styles. We can almost say that fashion design and interior design go hand in hand. What is modern inside is modern outside.

HOW TO USE IT:

Often times fashion sketches feel plain and boring because they lack texture, they lack variety of shapes and rhythm. Check out some interior pictures and try to stay aware of how the textures and shapes work together. Look closer and you will notice world of color harmonies hidden in each picture. Identify the rhythm of the interior and try to pass it to your design. The rhythm is the way empty space alternates with objects; monochrome with color, plaint with pattern.

Jewelry & Accessories

Accessory as Inspiration

Accessories can make a great source of inspiration for your next fashion illustration. Think about your favorite jewelry and/or accessory – what are its shape, what are the colors and material that is made from?

HOW TO USE IT:

Analyze and extract the key visual information from an item and you will already have a beginning for a new project. Pick one element from the jewelry that you like the most and try to use it in your designs. Look at the general shape, but also pay attention to the tiny details that make an item unique.

If you use an accessory for an inspiration, for example a bag – try creating a design that will match well with it, including shape, color and texture resemblance.

Music

Music as Inspiration source

Just like books, music is also one of the hidden sources for inspiration! Next time when you listen to a good song, don’t just vibe on it but try to make use of it in your designs.

HOW TO USE IT:

Get acquainted with the lyrics and design for the main character. Another approach would be to create outfits for the environment this music fits best– a club, a romantic dinner, a far away mountain or a street café.
A third way to use music into your fashion sketches it to create a collection inspired by the musical genres and subcultures: country, rock, punk, indie-pop, etc.

Nature

Nature as Inspiration

Just look around – we live and breath in a world that lives and breaths itself! The nature offers us a million things to be inspired by – plants, animals, the sky, mountains, valleys, deserts, rivers, lakes, the list could go on forever.

When you’re lacking inspiration, try taking a walk through a nearby field, park, forest, or other natural space.

HOW TO USE IT:

Observe the shape and texture of things, the colors, the patterns, and make rough sketches. For instance a cloud: you can make a dress that is sheer and soft as it. But you could also create a puffy coat with rounded elements to resemble the shape of the cloud. You can design a t-shirt with a fun print or pants in the same white-blue gradient color as a cloud. You got the idea – now – what do you see around you?

Photography

Photography as Inspiration source

With billions of images and photographs online, we have one more endless source of inspiration – the magic that inspired the photographer. Pulling inspiration from photos prevents you from making a copy of someone else’s ideas.
A photo will bring you next to an inspirational scene or object. How you translate that into fashion it your care.

HOW TO USE IT

Check out the composition, color, and balance within an image to get ideas. Think about what the story behind the image is, and what vibes it brings to you. The try imagining how this could be applied to your design project in terms of fabric and details.

The best online source to find inspiration from photos is Pinterest.

Research a clothing item

Clothing inspiration research

Pick a single clothing item like a dress or a pair of jeans and look closer. Research the history behind it – how the design of such pieces changed over time, how we wear it now and how we used to wear it in the past.

HOW TO USE IT:

In order to be good in fashion drawing, you need to know how clothes function. Get acquainted with different types of zippers, various neckline shapes and stitches. All these are important building blocks of a design and the more vast fashion dictionary you have – the larger your ideas pool will become.

Street Style

STreet style inspiration

The streets are the best teachers in life, but in fashion too! Take a look around while walking down the street. Make doodles or take pictures of what others are wearing or keep up with the influencers in Instagram. This helps you learn what people like to wear and you can apply parts of it to your designs to make sure they’ll be popular.

HOW TO USE IT:

When you find a streetwear look that you like, try sketching it as it is. During the process of drawing start experimenting and add your little touches here and there – change the print of the shirt or give her a different bag and a pair of high heels instead of trainers.

Style Blogs & Design Blogs

style inspiration

There are tons of style and design blogs online that cover fashion. There are also lots of youtube channels about styling, sewing, pattern making, etc. Use this source of information wisely and you will find yourself inspired in no time.

HOW TO USE IT:

The content creator has already done the heavy lifting for you – they’ve found the information on the latest trends, on a fashion icon or a new way to braid your hair. It’s all there – take it and draw it.

Always try to develop an idea that you have in at least 4-5 designs. The first idea that comes to the mind is rarely the best one, so keep drawing and digging different ways to use your inspiration element in clothing.

Theaters & Movies

Where to Find Inspiration for your next fashion sketch 1 Fashion Croquis and Drawing Tutorials

At the theater stage and in movies there is more to enjoy than the masterful acting and captivating scenario. Of course, not all productions are suitable to translate into a fashion collection, but most can put your mind into creative mode if you let them to.

HOW TO USE IT:

Some movies like “Sin City” offer a distinctive visual experience that can easily be translated into fashion. Others may inspire you with the beautiful landscapes and overall mood they create. You can also take the main character as your muse and design for her/him a whole fashion line.

Traditional Clothing Research

Where to Find Inspiration for your next fashion sketch 2 Fashion Croquis and Drawing Tutorials

There are places where traditional clothes are still worn on a daily basis, like in India and their beautiful sari (check out our How To Draw Sari tutorial). In other countries, however, people have stopped wearing traditional garments long ago. Incorporating traditional elements into modern collections takes real effort and creativity and if you’re up for a challenge – go get it!

HOW TO USE IT:

Research is the corner stone when creating folklore or tradition inspired clothes. Never take things exactly as they were if you want to make them sound contemporary. Grab a few elements and use modern materials to convey the same effect. Use the same technique that was once used in the embroidery or textile creation, but then be innovative with the silhouettes. Use the traditional prints and patterns, but find a surprising place to incorporate them.

Worwldwide Culture

Culture as Inspiration

Hundreds of fashion collections were inspired by Japanese, Russian, African cultures. This great interest has aroused because their traditional clothing, hairstyles, colors and patterns are so different from those we have know in the west. And the more distinct a culture is, the more curious we get.

HOW TO USE IT:

When you pull inspiration from a culture that is not your own, please show respect and research properly. Don’t allow mistakes in your designs that would make the natives feel bad about your work. If possible, try to talk with people from this culture to help you understand it better. Pay attention to all the clothing and textile choices, but also try to understand why these people needed what they’ve used in their looks. Why were needed those uncomfortable shoes, why did the women wear so many pendants or why all the fabrics are so colorful?


In conclusion, if you look around you can find inspiration for your fashion sketches everywhere! You just need to train your mind so you can see it when it’s right before your eyes. Stepping away from the things that we normally get inspired by is one way that can lead to a new world of innovation.


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