How to Find Inspiration for Your Fashion Designs

fashion design inspirationHow do you get fashion design inspiration? Well, I remember one of the first times my teachers told me to make a dress. It was like, “Alright, you saw me do it, now it’s your turn to design a dress. It’s due next week.” And that’s it. I was so nervous, lol. I had no idea what I was supposed to make. They didn’t teach us how to find fashion design inspiration. So I went home all defeated and tried to rack my brain for ideas. It was October and a lot of Halloween movies were on the t.v. so I sat there and watched some. Everything was edited for tv, so they ended up being really short movies. But it was when I saw Mina’s red dress in Dracula that I was like YESSSSS. mina harker inspo

And then I started sketching. What I liked most about her dress were the flowers all over, and the double curved darts on each side. So after I made a sketch, I went back to school the next day and started draping my muslin.

It was a mess.

It was really challenging getting the darts. So I cheated a little and made a flat pattern for the front piece and slashed the darts the way I wanted. Then I tested it in muslin and manipulated the fabric until I had them the way I wanted.

Just an FYI, Eiko Ishioka (the costume designer for the movie) is one of my all-time favorite designers because of her complex and beautiful designs. I wanted to try and make something like hers. Kinda like paying tribute to her awesomeness.

The dress turned out pretty dang good, if I do say so myself. It took a week to sew it because the flowers were hand sewed on and made to drape seamlessly over the shoulders. I also put in an invisible zipper. It was made out of red silk and the top part was a chiffon overlay.

This is the dress. (Psst…that’s not me, that’s my model in the fashion show). I liked how the bottom of the dress dripped red.

I liked how the bottom of the dress dripped red. My little nod to Mina.

mina harker fashion bound silk dress

Now the dress looked just as shiny as the picture when the stage lights hit it. Everyone went quiet…

It even made it into the highlights of the show in California Apparel News.california apparel newsAnd there ya go.

The dress went on to several fashion competitions in Los Angeles. And when I finally got it back, I dry cleaned it and wore it to my pre-wedding dinner. 🙂

Anyways, my point is…you can find fashion design inspiration ANYWHERE.

I find a lot of fashion design inspiration in movies, tv, and video games that I play. And when I really need inspo, I find a lot of inspiration in my garden and nature.

Of course, I tend to design towards the avant-garde looks that are really over the top and crazy. So it’s been a challenge to really dial that back in my patterns and make designs that are more broad and commercial. That’s why I love Halloween, I don’t have to dial that back. 😉

If you can't find what you want, design it! Click To Tweet

4 Tips for Fashion Design Inspiration:

Pick out 1-2 elements that you really like.

Whether it’s current trends, something you saw on the Red Carpet or Oscars, just pick 1-2.

In the above design, I picked out flowers, darts and the color red. But when you’re starting out, just pick two.

Now find a way to incorporate those into your next design.

Wander around nature.

See the way the leaves are. Could you include some pintucks like the veins in the leaves?

Maybe you like the tulips. Try to incorporate a petal hem on your next dress.

Are the waves of the ocean relaxing? You could make a wavy serged edge, or color-block with monochrome colors.

Nature is the best FREE resource available.

You can even wander the fruit and vegetable aisle at your grocery store. Yes, try not to look like a complete weirdo staring at produce. But even the different colors on an apple can give you some ideas of colorways that work together.

I escape to nature whenever I need ideas, for anything.white flowers inspiration

Go on a historic building crawl.

It’s like a pub crawl, but you don’t get drunk and you’re not going to pubs. You’re going to historic buildings and admiring the architecture. 

Notice the way the Victorian buildings have ornate decorations and flourishes. See the ironwork and structured red bricks. Look at lines and cracks and see how they make up these old buildings. Imagine the airyness of the glass pyramid of the Louvre. Or the colonnades of the Basilica.

Architecture helps when you want to add new lines and silhouettes to your designs.

Go Window Shopping.

I do this a lot. I’m pretty sure the security guys know I just like to wander the stores. Lol.

Look around and notice what you like, what you don’t like, how you would change it.

Then go home and make it different! A lot of my original designs come from frustration that I can’t find what I’m looking for, so I make it!

If there’s a certain dress or jacket you absolutely want, but can’t find…why not try to design it?

I hope this helps you get fashion design inspiration that you can use in your designs!

And here’s my little public service announcement today: Don’t steal from patterns. That’s a big no-no. Designers work hard and have family and cats. Sometimes lots of cats. Don’t steal from kittens.

If you like this, you might like reading the 15 Minute Guide to Fashion Design for Beginners. It has a free printable to help you!

Happy Designing!




If you want to practice all of these tips check out the Fashion Design Bootcamp. A new session will start soon!fashion design bootcamp

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