Six Ways To Jump-Start Your Style Creativity

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties. – Erich Fromm

You may be wondering, what does Patti have to say about creativity? Most of my outfits are fairly simple, in a small range of colors. I think I’m not at all creative compared to my artistic friends. It’s a fact that others have more talent than we do in any given area. So if we’re smart, we enjoy rather than envy others’ creations.

But I am creative in my own small ways: I compose two or three blog posts a week, and post style ads on Facebook. Sandy and I are starting from scratch to decorate our tiny NYC studio, and that is exciting, and very Pinterest-ful. And I’m a master at making up stupid songs to annoy delight my partner.

Here are some ideas from a medium-creative person that might work to uncover and jump-start your own creativity:

If you’re visually oriented, scribble and doodle style ideas as you get them, or see them. If you’re more of a written-word person, send yourself a text. I do this all the time, e.g. “check out deco style brooches on Etsy.”

My friend Anne is a super-talented illustrator and visual artist. Here she’s inspired by a flower to create a new hat.

Immerse yourself in the medium of style. Don’t rule out online catalogs, that often have look-books of cool styles. Though I don’t shop there much, I like to browse through the look-books of Loft, Anthropologie, and Banana Republic.

Mix things up that weren’t mixed before. I love sneakers and a tulle skirt, or a floofy skirt with a graphic tee. Jeans with a sequined sweater, or a man’s blazer over a feminine dress. Pearls with a basic white tee. Use accessories on “opposite” days – try a sparkly hair clip with a shirt and jeans. Add a cotton bandana to a dressy blouse.

One of my style icons, Melanie from Bag and a Beret. She’s mixing a graphic tee with tux trousers and a tailored jacket. And why not?

Use what-if questions, like what if no one will see your outfit and and you can go wild? What if you anchored the evening news and had to look the part – how would you keep your individuality? What if you only had three skirts and three tops – how many outfits could you create?

Take out a shelf or section of your closet and put all the pieces back differently. Some style ideas might show themselves.

Don’t wait till it’s perfect to share your creation: make mistakes, and relax, and laugh a lot.

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. -Scott Adams



Some pretty pieces to browse through:

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  1. Mel and Anne are certainly two amazingly creative people. I love that you make up songs (I would like to hear one too – I think this calls for a video). Creativity can be expressed in so many different ways – cooking, art, dancing, decorating, writing, getting dressed, etc. One of the goals I have had since I was a young woman was that I wanted to lead a creative life. I hope that on most days I succeed.

  2. I totally understand what you mean. I too feel I am not creative or creative enough. That is because we look at other very creative people and look at our work from that direction, and find our work wanting in creativity. It may or may not be correct assessment. That is beside the point.
    What people like you and me should do is to look at our work for what it is. Where we were and how far we came. There is no scale to say how creative is very creative. Are you happy with what you are doing? if yes, great!, If not, then do whatever you feel like.
    Everyone is creative. Living is creating.

  3. I am particularly struck and pleased with your phrase about enjoying rather than envying others qualities. We all have our styles that were comfortable with. But I do agree it is sometimes fun to step out of our comfort zone and try new things. I’m sure you are doing that as you decorate your new home.
    Decorating is also a lot of fun for me. I am in the middle of a renovation as we speak.
    Enjoy the process, and as you say, wisely, let go of perfection and just create around what you love .
    I agree also, Mel is a style wizard as well as a fabulous writer .

  4. Oh, such good advice, Patti! I actually find a game or challenge to really push my creativity. I used to give poetry workshops where you had to include every word in a crossword scratch-n-win lottery ticket – it was awesome!

    Anne, yay! Mel, Yay! You – YAY!

  5. I see your creativity all the time in your outfits, Patti. Like your brooch at the waist. Awesome idea. I have so many talented friends with brilliancies all over the place, not just in visual arts, which is what makes life so very, very engaging. Your idea about how a news anchor keeps their individuality – hahaha!, great question! One to think about. And wouldn’t I love to hear one of your little made-up songs! ??!! Thanks for this shout-out. And Anne’s hat, wow, that is soooo good.

    • I know about Anne’s hat, right? Thanks for your kind words, and b/c you are my friend, I will not inflict a made-up song on you. xo

      • I just found this post!
        Thanks for highlighting that short-lived series that I might resurrect at some point. For inspiration, I was using flower photos that a Facebook friend posts on her “daily walk” in the San Francisco area. I think a whole journal of fanciful hats would be lots of fun. (I could do one a month for Judith’s “Hat Attack”! That might give me the “push” to get it going again).

        Ha. My problem is TOO MANY creative ideas. I have to write them down or I forget.

        There’s an Instagram/FB challenge called #COTDstyle [Colors of the Day].
        Sunday-Thursday, around 3pm Pacific, Mercedes posts a color/ pattern/ texture combination. The following day, everyone involved posts their interpretation (mostly outfits). It’s fun, and gets one using ones closet in new ways. I highly recommend it!

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