Fashion Inspired by Art: Johannes Vermeer's "The Girl with the Pearl Earring"

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This week’s Fashion Inspired by Art is centered around Johannes Vermeer's "The Girl with the Pearl Earring." Read on to learn more about the painting and to see some outfits inspired by this classic work of art.

Johannes Vermeer's The Girl with the Pearl Earring

Johannes Vermeer's "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" (1665) via Wikimedia Commons

Pearls of Wisdom: About Johannes Vermeer's "The Girl with the Pearl Earring"

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) was a painter from the Dutch Golden Age. His small body of work focuses mostly on domestic scenes with women. While now regarded as one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age, he died in relative obscurity, as he sold most of his works to a local patron and very few paintings reached larger markets like Antwerp or Amsterdam. However, interest in his work was reignited after an art historian recognized Vermeer's "The Art of Painting" had been wrongly attributed to another painter.

"The Girl with the Pearl Earring" is probably the most iconic portrait to come out of the Dutch Golden Age, thus earning the name "Mona Lisa of the North." Despite what the novel based on the painting's conception would suggest, nothing is known about the girl or if the painting was commissioned or not.

I adore this piece for all of its contrasts - the dark background and the lit figure, the relative simplicity of the girl's dress and the luxury of her massive pearl earring, the broad strokes in the fabrics and the more detailed rendering of her face... the list goes on!

Outfits inspired by "The Girl with the Pearl Earring"


Vermeer pearl outfit tronie

Kimono, Earrings, Top, Bag, Shorts, Head Wrap, Lip Stain, Sandals, Skirt

Historians note that the girl's turban is rather odd, not something one would expect to find on a 17th-century Dutch girl. Some speculate Vermeer employed the turban for an exotic touch, while others say it was used to showcase his painting abilities. Because of the girl's outfit, some categorize the painting as a tronie - a face or bust study featuring an unconventional expression or costume.

Channel Vermeer while staying cool in the heat with a head wrap, the turban's more accessible cousin. Apply Vermeer's favorite color scheme with a mustard kimono and ultramarine bottom (skirt or shorts - it's up to you!). A white top creates a neutral base amongst those two shades, while understated sandals and a cross-body bag are classic choices. And, of course, the ensemble wouldn't be complete without a pair of pearl earrings.

Double Dutch

Vermeer pearl outfit double dutch

Hair clips, Earrings, Necklace, Pants, Shirt, SkirtMakeupEyeliner, Heels

Vermeer's hometown, Delft, was famous for their porcelain, also known as Delftware. Porcelain prints have been seen on the runways at Rodarte, Mary Katrantzou, Valentino, and more, and the trend is slowly reaching high street retailers.

Add another dose of Dutch art with these printed trousers (or skirt) paired with a basic black top. Ankle strap shoes are a stylish pick, while a blue bubble necklace makes quite the statement. Keeping with the "pearl" theme, opt for some floral pearl studs, then take a cue from Chanel with pearl hair pins that you could also easily DIY.

The Man with the Pearl Necklace

Vermeer pearl outfit man with the pearl necklace

Pullover, Necklace, Scarf, Nail Polish, Skirt, Boots, Belt

Another famous pearl connoisseur is Giambattista Valli. Whether he's wearing a v-neck or a tuxedo, he's almost never without his signature pearls.

Balance a casual pullover with a string of pearls for a sort of "ladies who lunch" street style look. Keep the contrast going by pairing masculine Chelsea boots with a feminine skater skirt. The porcelain print scarf is a nod at Valli's last couture collection, inspired by porcelain from around the world. For the finishing touch, paint your nails a bold yellow hue.

What do you think?

Is "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" your favorite Vermeer? Or is there another iconic portrait you like? What do you think about the inspired outfits? Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your opinions!

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