Last week, I wrote about being spontaneously inspired by the world around you, and I made three outfits inspired by Shakespeare’s plays. It was such a fun way to practice creativity that I decided to try it again — this week’s theme is the Impressionist painters.
Impressionism is all about light, color, and breaking free from rules. Here are three outfit ideas, each inspired by an iconic painting from one of the great Impressionist masters.
Vincent Van Gogh
Everyone knows about Van Gogh and his most famous painting, Starry Night. You probably saw it for the first time in elementary school! Yes, this particular piece is truly timeless — more than 100 years after he painted it, it is still as relevant and beautiful as ever. It also translates beautifully into a statement outfit for a semi-dressy setting or a fun night out.
The bright, haphazard yellow design of the top emulates the frenzied brush strokes of the painting, while the tailored black pants echo the prominent trees in the foreground of the painting. A flyaway blue cardigan borrows its hues from the backdrop of the night sky and lets the yellow pop. If you opt for cropped pants, make sure to wear heels to help lengthen your legs.
One of Monet’s early paintings first gave rise to the term “Impressionism,” and his later paintings of water lilies remain among his most popular and enduring works.
To mirror the rich, vibrant hues of the painting, I chose a similarly-colored skirt with floral accents. The cardigan and flats reinforce the color scheme, while a drapey, cream-colored tank top adds movement and light. Meanwhile, floral details on the clutch and flats emphasize the overall theme of the painting.
Degas’ renderings of the ballet are some of my favorite Impressionist paintings of all time; they exude such a compelling mix of movement, delicacy, and strength, all at once.
The basics of this outfit — the blush pink midi skirt and white tank top — imitate the tutus worn by Degas’ ballerinas. But the statement piece in this look is the silver tuxedo blazer, which adds the aura of energy and power that makes his dancers so appealing. The shimmery fabric of the blazer and the metallic belt provide a touch of sparkle to make you the star of the show, while subtle gray flats and a feminine headband maintain the softness of the overall look.
What do you think?
Are you a fan of art history? What are some of your favorite artists or paintings? Would you have interpreted any of these paintings differently? Even professional art critics can’t agree on the ultimate “meaning” of a painting, and that’s the beauty of great art — how it can at once be meaningful in different ways to different people, without being any different itself.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2010; it was completely updated and revamped in 2018 by Sharon with new photos and information.