The Easy Way to Put Together an Outfit Based on a Magazine Picture

When looking at magazines sometimes, you’ve gotta wonder how people are actually inspired by what they see on those glossy pages. Oftentimes what is featured in a typical editorial spread is expensive, too extravagant for every day wear, or seems to be good for only one body type.

While some may buy magazines like Vogue and Elle for eye candy only, others buy it with hopes of finding some inspiration for their outfit. So, how do people put together an outfit based on a magazine picture? With this post, we’re going to take a look at a typical outfit you might find hitting newsstands monthly, and break it down into something you would actually be able to wear.

Today’s example (below) is from a spread called “(de)signs of Spring” from Fashion magazine, February 2013. It was styled by Zeina Esmail and photgraphed by Gabor Jurina. As a bonus, the vast majority of the clothes in this spread are by Canadian designers!

Below, Canadian model Grace Mahary (left) is wearing a top and skirt by Lucian Matis, and a necklace and and ring by Erickson Beamon at Me Style. The model on the right is also wearing a dress by Lucian Matis, her jewelry is by Rebekah Price.

Now, right off the bat, one thing is apparent: these outfits are expen$ive–the notes on the page (which you can’t see in this picture) state that both outfits are “price on request” which means it’s either of these outfits would cost you a pretty penny indeed.  So how can you create a similar look for less?

These are lovely outfits, and to start off, here’s what we would take note of, and keep in mind when we go to create our own outfits:


1. The general idea is ladylike dresses with big jewelry

2. To keep the outfits from looking too fussy, keep the hair simple (sleek ponytail, or just straighten the hair and bangs)

3. Both outfits, while gorgeous, are perhaps a little too much glamour for an every day routine, how can you make them more casual?

4. Mahary’s outfit is a lovely, colourful print. We’re liking the white, camel, navy, turquoise, and little bits of lime details.

5. The big, bright necklace and ring certainly add a lot to the outfit, without them, it would just be the dress. If you changed the accessories, how would that change the overall appearance of the outfit?

6. The dress on the right–the red, grey, and cream are quite striking.

7. The model on the right is also wearing big, statement jewelry.

8. We can’t see what shoes they are wearing, so we’re going to have to think about what would work for these dresses which look to be knee-length. Also, they have no coats on and it’s still cold out, so what would you wear?

Okay, so here’s how we would transform these outfits into something one could actually wear. We created the outfit sets below using Polyvore, and while you could definitely find some of the items we chose for cheaper, we just listed what they were to give you a sense of who’s making what (and also to not get into trouble for not crediting the stuff we’re using).

Interpretation #1 

Untitled #99

J.Crew cropped cardigan, 225 CAD / Rut&Circle lace blouse, 36 CAD / Mata Traders printed skirt, 70 CAD / H&M high heel booties, 47 CAD / J.Crew antique jewelry, 150 CAD / Beaded stretch bracelet, 6.19 CAD / Mint jewelry, 23 CAD / OPI nail lacquer, 18 CAD

So with the outfit above you might be thinking that there’s a few too many accessories, and we agree, but for this outfit, and the following two we just wanted to show the options that could work for this outfit. The earrings, necklace, and bracelets all fall into the colour palette we are going for, and all are sure to catch the eye like the costume jewelry in the original outfit worn by Mahary.

Moving on, the central piece is skirt–it has all the colours we’re going for, and printed bandage skirts like this are pretty easy to find these days. If you’re feeling bold, go for a a printed top, but otherwise keep it simple with a basic, long-sleeved collared shirt and beige cardi, both of which balance out the showy pattern of the skirt, making things more appropriate daytime wear. Also, the silhouette is very prim and proper, much like the shape of the outfit in the original picture. To make this outfit a bit edgier, try a jean vest or add some black lace tights.

Interpretation #2

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Vero Moda , 25 CAD / Matthew Williamson jersey top, 300 CAD / Zara line jacket, 135 CAD / River Island cream skirt, 16 CAD / Call it SPRING floral oxford, 37 CAD / Owl jewelry, 4,425 CAD / ALDO jewelry, 15 CAD / Bow tie earrings, 12 CAD / Lipstick

If the bandage skirt wasn’t working for you, maybe this classic white A-line skirt would be a better option- after all, Mahary’s outfit if you take away the pattern is a similar garment. The navy lace-panel shirt is a style that is fairly common out there right now, so it should be pretty easy to find. Navy is a classic colour, good for winter-to-spring dressing, but the lace makes things a little more fun.

The pops of colour we like so much in Mahary’s outfit is shown here in the scarf. Take away the scarf, and it’s a completely different outfit. We like the funny owl pin, it’s as blingy as the green necklace in the original shot, but more playful, and would look nice perched on the collar of the camel blazer.

Interpretation #3

Untitled #101
Orla Kiely summer top, 305 CAD / Monki , 8.04 CAD / Topshop , 51 CAD / River Island , 70 CAD / Wallis silver jewelry, 7.20 CAD / Lanvin white pearl necklace, 615 CAD / Kenneth Jay Lane tear drop earrings, 46 CAD
So, like Mahary’s outfit, the red and white dress worn by the other model might be a little hard to replicate by shopping in a typical mall. The same basic principle applies though: bright colours, feminine structure, big accessories.
With this outfit, you can see how a few basics (simple grey tank, yellow cardi, and lace skirt) are taken up a level with bright red accessories. Remember: things don’t always have to match–just because you’re wearing a yellow cardigan, doesn’t mean you can’t also wear red accessories. The overall effect is decidedly not Ronald McDonald, and in fact perfectly elegant. Bib necklaces like the one above are widely available now, if you don’t want to buy one, try a printed scarf with red in it. The model’s earrings are big teardrops, so there are red teardrops above to bring that colour and shape in, or, if you go for a showy necklace, keep your ears simpler with silver hoops.
In moving forward, we suggest that you find an outfit pic that you like in a magazine, and using stuff you already have in your closet, try and put something together just for practice or whatever. Think about the shape of the outfit (flowy? structured? lots of layers?), and where you would like to wear it (for a night out? for a class presentation?), and from there pull out what you like about the outfit- is it the colours? The accessories? The hair style?–and go from there!
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