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Fashion Inspired by Art: Rachel Ruysch’s “Still Life of Flowers, 1710″


I know what you’re thinking: Florals? For summer? Groundbreaking. But think about how striking a floaty floral dress looks with a leather jacket or vest, or how cool a girl looks pairing a flowery shirt with combat boots. (I’m looking at you, Miley…)

This Fashion Inspired by Art post - based on “Still Life of Flowers, 1710″ by Rachel Ruysch – will show you how to create edgy, summer-appropriate looks with a feminine twist, using accessories inspired by bugs, bones, butterflies, and other aspects of the natural world.

Rachel Ruysch is not your average flower painter. I’ve seen one of Ruysch’s paintings at the Detroit Institute of Arts; it was breathtaking. Not only was each flower was painstakingly detailed and richly colored, but for every beautiful bloom there was a flower with a broken stem, or a delicate-winged moth, or the dark, shiny shell of a beetle.

Ruysch’s compositions are all about contrast and truth: the natural state of flowers, some decaying, some broken, some covered in bugs, but still beautiful and captivating.

Rahcle Ruysch's “Still Life of Flowers - 1710” (1710) via Wikimedia Commons
Rachel Ruysch’s “Still Life of Flowers, 1710” (1710) via Wikimedia Commons (Click image to enlarge.)

About Rachel Ruysch

Born in 1664 in the Netherlands, Ruysch was one of the first female Dutch artists to achieve international recognition, and is still known today as one of the masters of flower painting from the Dutch Golden Age. Her father, a professor of botany and anatomy at the University of Amsterdam, fostered Ruysch’s interest in insects and exotic flowers by allowing her to assist in the preparation and display of his specimens when she was young.

In a time when women were rarely allowed to learn painting unless they were taught by male family members, Ruysch was apprenticed to the still-life artist Willem Van Aelst in 1679. Ruysch’s dynamic compositions of exotic flowers in bright colors, combined with fauna like beetles, bees, snakes, salamanders, and other creepy-crawlies, as well as flowers with broken stems or blooms in various states of decay, quickly earned her a reputation as a talented artist.

Ruysch and her husband, the portraitist Joriaen Pool, enjoyed much commercial success in Amsterdam, where Ruysch’s considerable social circle and skill allowed her to sell her paintings despite a guild restriction that banned women from selling their paintings. They joined the painter’s guild in The Hague in 1701, and in 1708 were both named painters to the court of Johann Wilhelm von Phalz-Neuberg in Düsseldorf. Ruysch and her husband raised ten children together, and she continued to paint until her death at the age of 83.

It is important to note that, during this time, women were not allowed to work with the male form or nude models as male artists were; this kept women from many subjects, such as historical and mythological painting, that would have allowed them to explore loftier concepts and ideas with their art.

Though it is unclear if Ruysch intended for her paintings to have symbolic or moral interpretations, some feminist interpretations of her work suggest that the unorthodox inclusion of insects, reptiles, and flowers in decay was the artist’s way of accessing subjects that were barred from her as a woman: the exploration of death and decay; the true, wild, chaotic state of nature; the subversion of beauty and the feminine ideal.

Outfits Inspired by “Still Life of Flowers, 1710″

Nature and Chaos

Ruysch still life outfit inspiration
Earrings, Blouse, Skirt, Ring, Sandals, Lipstick

Start with your floral base – this cropped, bell-sleeved blouse is perfectly sweet and summery, with it’s creamy crochet accents and feminine color scheme. Paired with a dark, midnight-blue velvet maxi skirt (which mirrors the dark, velvety background of Ruysch’s painting) and black sandals, it becomes both edgy and free-spirited.

Gold or rose-gold jewelry glams up snake and cicada motifs, but if you wanted to take it even further, you could accessorize with jewelry made from natural materials, like porcupine quills or shark teeth. Wear with a dark red lipstick and, if you’re having a frizzy hair day, a glam hat.

Feminine and Subversive

Ruysch fashion inspiration
Necklace, Shirt, Pants, Sandals, Nail Polish, Earrings

This outfit is comfy, stylish, and perfect for your summer art history lecture. The bright pink and black print of these floral pants is bold, but also cool and feminine, thanks to their slouchy silhouette and high waist. Add a soft, cropped t-shirt and black sandals to keep with the flirty, cool-girl feel.

This outfit’s edge truly comes from its accessories – a bold statement necklace made of beetle wings (!!!) adds a metallic pop of color that complements the pink flowers in the pants beautifully, and EVERYONE will want to know where you got it. An iridescent green on your toes mirrors the necklace nicely, and spider earrings (or these gorgeous butterfly earrings!) are another unique touch that would look great with a no-fuss top knot or a ponytail.

Not into wearing beetle wings? (Aww, why not?) Green feathers would work fabulously, too. Can’t bear the thought of wearing pants in the summer? Try these adorable floral tap shorts.

Death and Decay

Ruysch floral still life outfit inspiration
Necklace, Kimono, Top, Sandals, Ear Cuff, Shorts, iPhone Case

These cheerful sunflower shorts remind me of the sunflower with the broken stem in the painting, and when paired with the bright, graphic blooms on the iPhone case, the combination of colors and shapes perfectly evokes the painting’s atmosphere. (Or you could get an iPhone case of a Ruysch painting, just saying…) Pair the shorts with an airy, lacy top, a black kimono, and strappy gladiator sandals for a look that’s comfy, casual, and just a little bit sexy.

Oxidized brass accessories shaped like bones and teeth really elevate this look from sweet and comfy to edgy and fashion-forward, and you can wear these trendy ear cuffs even if you don’t have pierced ears. This outfit would look fab at a party, a music festival, or just out running errands.

Final Thoughts

Like stripes and polka dots, florals are a classic print that never goes out of style. However, we see so many iterations of them on the runway and in stores, it can be really hard to make them seem fresh and interesting! This is why I think accessories are so important.

They really do make or break your outfit, and can help you bring something from one season into another. I believe accessories are worth investing a little in if you know you’re going to wear them enough to make it worth it.

Of course, while accessories made of bones, bugs, and porcupine quills have been popular for a few seasons now, who knows how long they’ll stay on trend? If the lasting power of Ruysch’s paintings is any indicator of our collective interest in all things creepy, weird, and beautiful, they might be around for quite a while…

What do you think?

What do you think of Ruysch’s paintings? Are you a fan of the accessories in this post? What do you think is more important in art – the artist’s intentions, or the viewer’s interpretation? Let me know in the comments below!

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Nail Art How-to: Summer Skies

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Summer Skies Nail Art Tutorial

Hello, hello lovelies! I know that I can’t resist spending whatever time I can outside during summer, so I wanted to capture the look of those perfect blue skies right on my nails.

Using some cute scalloped edges and a good nail art pen, I’ll show you a simple and easy way to accomplish this fun design. Read on to learn how to get this fresh look!

Step 1: Bases Set

summer sky nail art

To start off, I’m using Wet n Wild’s Megalast nail polish in “I Need a Refresh-Mint” on my thumb, index and ring finger, and a basic white nail polish on my middle finger and pinky. Personally, I just like having a little bit of variety, but if you prefer to use just one color or style on your nails, go for it!

Step 2: Your Heart’s in the Clouds

Cloud nail art tutorial

You can’t have those endless summer skies without picture-perfect clouds drifting by! As you can see, I already have an example of a finished cloud on my index finger, but I’ll show you the steps on my ring finger.

First, with the side of your brush, start around the middle of your nail and make a stroke away from you on one side. Using the side of the brush rather than the flat side helps to make a skinnier line, and keeps the tip of the cloud a little more rounded rather than straight or sharp.

Bring the brush slightly lower than your first line and make another edge by curving it out. This helps to make a rounder edge since you can start painting on the first line to have a larger area to work with.

Create one more line, but bring your brush almost to the tip of your nail, which gives you the final edge on your cloud. These scalloped edges create the perfect cloud shape!

Step 3: Raindrops on Roses

Raindrops nail art tutorial

To be honest, late night storms are my favorite, and summer is filled with those rain-soaked nights. Although sometimes rain is a bummer, at least raindrops can look cute on your nails!

For this part, I’m using Sally Hansen’s “I Heart Nail Art” pen in Blue on my white-colored nails. I love using these pens because of their precise tip, although you need to make sure to shake them well first. That way, you manage to get enough product out when you press down.

Begin by making a small dot, then pull up slightly to create a little point, which makes a teardrop shape. Repeat the process until you have a rain shower on your nail!

And There You Have It!

Finished nails skies tutorial actual

What’d you think of this look?

Would you wear clouds and raindrops on your nails? Do you have any favorite nail designs? Are you a fan of cute nail looks or more elegant ones? Tell us what you think in the comments below!

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Looks on Campus: Katie – University of Washington

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Seattle is usually slightly warm during the month of June, with typical highs ranging from the 50’s to low 70’s. But on this day, a miracle happened: clear blue skies and sunny 78 degree weather!

I found Katie lounging in the long-forgotten Seattle sun with a friend as I was wandering around the beautiful University of Washington campus. While she seemed a bit shy at first, it turned out she was sweet and bright, just like her outfit!

Katie 101

University of Washington student style

Name: Katie

Major: Cellular Biology

Year: Junior

School: University of Washington, Seattle campus

Let’s Talk Fashion

What inspires your style? “Comfort, really.”

Where do you like to shop? “I like to shop at Buffalo Exchange and consignment shops.”

How would you describe your sense of style? “It’s more casual and outdoorsy. I don’t usually wear skirts that often.”

Why did you choose this particular outfit? “I just got back from Alaska, my home [state]. The weather was nice outside, so I decided to wear a skirt!”

What fashion advice would you give to other students looking to improve their style? “Dress comfortably. Wear something that makes you happy.”

What do you like to do for fun? Do you have any unique hobbies or interests? “I like to hike and ski. Also, I like to bake a lot. During finals I do a lot of stress baking for my roommates.”

Elements of Katie’s Outfit

1. Color Contrast

Street style at the university of Washington

Katie’s bright orange J. Crew v-neck and dark blue patterned skirt from Urban Outfitters instantly caught my eye. In this look, the orange tee grounds the outfit, and the unique patterned skirt takes center stage. Also, the contrasting colors takes her casually cute outfit to a terrifically fashionable level.

2. Lackadaisical Bow

Printed skirt with bow college street fashion

The bow on the back of Katie’s skirt lends a feminine touch to her outfit and quite literally ties the look together. Its effortlessness is another indication of her fashionable and casual sense of style.

3. Minimalist Jewelry

College student fashionista rocking minimalist yet chic jewelry

Katie’s minimalist jewelry really shows her personality. Her earrings were a birthday gift from her mother and resemble the ovals in the pattern of her skirt. The elegant lines of her ring are balanced, while the silver coloring flows with the tones in her outfit. It’s the little details like these that really make this ensemble stand out!

What do you think of Katie’s sunny-day style?

Do you love her bold patterned skirt and delicate jewelry? What do you wear on gorgeous summer days? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!

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Runway Looks for Less: Tibi Resort 2014


Tibi Resort 2014
Tibi Resort 2014 | ELLE

I am a big fan of minimalist fashion, so when I stumbled upon Tibi’s Resort 2014 collection, I knew I had to share it with our beloved CF readers for inspiration. Though the collection’s color palette tended to stay in neutral territory, colorful paint splatter details and the ever-present thick strapped sandals upped the looks’ relaxed vibe.

The simple silhouettes were elevated by menswear detailing, which added a kind of androgyny through its oversized – but tailored – features. In addition, the variety of fabrics throughout the collection added texture and interest.

Lusting after these simple yet chic looks, but not so infatuated with their price tag? Keep reading for three budget-friendly outfits inspired by Tibi’s 2014 resort collection:

1. Comfy Chic

Tibi resort 2014 look 1
Photo: ELLE

Any combo of black, white, and gray adds a dash of sophistication to any getup, and this look is perfect because it makes an otherwise laid-back outfit a bit dressier.

The oversized boyfriend-style cardigan contrasts nicely with the black midi skirt, and the white tee continues to the keep the outfit grounded. Also, the dash of deep red from the sandals keeps the ensemble from looking too dark. We think this look would be ideal for those cooler summer mornings spent running errands!

Get the Look:

Tibi resort 2014 outfit 1
Product Info: Top- NastyGal, Skirt- Boohoo, Cardigan- H&M, Shoes- ASOS, Hair Waver- Macy’s

Recreate this outfit by pairing a black midi skirt with a loose white tee, both in airy fabrics reminiscent of the crepe skirt in the original designer look. Choose a soft, heather gray cardigan in a relaxed fit and deep red sandals with gold detailing to keep the comfy-chic vibe going. Finish the look by imitating the model’s soft, relaxed waves!

2. Leather and Ice

Tibi resort 2014 look 2
Photo: ELLE

In this second look from Tibi’s Resort 2014 collection, this icy blue color is center stage. Not only is the hue gorgeous, but it’s also a unique choice; this shade of blue is generally associated with cooler weather, and isn’t usually seen in resort collections.

Other than the sweater, the caged detail at the edge of the leather shorts is both trendy and edgy. Meanwhile, the white hue of the thick-strapped sandals plays off the cool blue.

Get the Look:

Tibi Resort 2014 outfit inspiration
Product Info: Sweater- Target, Shorts- ASOS, Shoes- ASOS, Clutch- Mango, Bronzer- Topshop

Get inspired and combine a roomy sweater in a similar hue to the original with a pair of relaxed, tailored leather shorts. Pick some sandals with wide straps, then accessorize with a white leather clutch that has laser-cut detailing reminiscent of the caged detailing in the original outfit’s shorts. Brush a bit of bronzer to add some warmth to the cool-hued outfit!

3. Prints on Prints on Pants

Tibi resort 2014 look 3
Photo: ELLE

The menswear inspiration is most present in this outfit, thanks to this fab oversized vest. The tapered, paint splatter print pants add a bit of whimsy to an otherwise masculine top. Just like the last look, the cool blues and greens of the print are a great alternative to the typically warm colors present during summer.

Get the Look:

Tibi resort 2014 outfit 3
Product Info: Top- Miss Guided, Pants- Forever 21, Vest- NastyGal, Shoes- Topshop, Bracelet- Topshop, Ring Set- Topshop

For a similar look, choose tapered pants with some blue hues. Pair with a simple black tank top under a longline, loose vest before picking a pair of patent leather sandals. Add a bit of edge with silver accessories, like this multi-row bracelet and these square rings.

Your Thoughts?

What did you think of this collection? Are you tempted to recreate one of Tibi’s looks? Which of these outfits is your favorite and would you wear any of them? Do you have suggestions for future featured designers? Remember to let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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