One fun way to approach your wardrobe is to draw inspiration from favorite fictional characters. There are a bunch of YouTube videos, IG Reels and TikTok posts online in which people have created outfits inspired by popular characters in film or literature. These outfits are meant less to be historically or character accurate costumes than to be regular work or play clothes that incorporate style elements associated with these characters or their time period. Stylists on social media get really creative, putting together outfits inspired by a certain silhouette, color palette, or just the vibe you get from an outfit. Some have even made mash-up videos with different takes on a character based on your style preferences, such as Harry-Potter-inspired-but-make-it-vintage. Check out the videos and photos below for some serious inspiration!
Modern Jane Austen
Whether you are a Jane Austen superfan or you binged Bridgerton in January, Regency-era outfits are among the easier historical fashions to replicate. This is in part because empire-waist gowns are a classical silhouette, dating all the way back to the Greeks and Romans, and have popped back into fashion at different points in the last 150 years, as well. At WhoWhatWear, Isabel Mundigo-Moore breaks down additional style elements from Austen films that modern women can add to their wardrobes, such as puffed sleeves, pearl accessories, straw hats, and organza.
In this video, Lucy, a vintage stylist and YouTuber, shows how she styled her hair, makeup, and clothes for a modern Regency look. In the early 1800s, a more natural look was popular, so Lucy shows how to do natural makeup and create a curly hairstyle.
Modern Little Women
In this video, YouTuber and stylist Audrey Coyne talks about creating Little Women-inspired outfits “without feeling like a caricature.” Coyne focuses on the costumes in the latest Little Women film, released in 2019. Style elements that she pulled from the film included masculine touches, vests, billowy sleeves, delicate touches, and lace up boots. Many of these style elements are things that Coyne already likes and incorporates into her wardrobe. We can work this way, too. Rather than copying a character’s costume or outfit exactly, consider what parts of their outfits you might already wear and emphasize those similarities.
Vintage Game of Thrones
Cosplayer Rachel Maksy has a YouTube series called “But Make It Vintage,” in which she creates vintage-style outfits for sci-fi or fantasy characters, such as a mid-1800s Princess Leia outfit (which is brilliant!). Here, Maksy sews a vintage 1940s dress for Daenerys Targaryen. She uses a 1940s dress pattern, but imbues the outfit with Game of Thrones style by using materials that are similar to Daenerys’s costumes in the series, such burlap, snakeskin, and earth tones. Sewing an entire dress from scratch would be a daunting project for many of us, but we can still learn from Maksy’s approach by wearing items with the same color, pattern, or fabric as our favorite characters.
Modern and vintage Star Wars
Star Wars is an easy series to draw inspiration from because the costumes are more modern and often made up of simple neutrals and basics. In fact, there was a period in the early 2010s when women’s style seemed to unintentionally copy Han Solo’s look with riding boots, jeans, a white shirt, and a vest, which was a great look! You can recreate the same look now, or express yourself through other characters, such as C-3PO or Chewbacca.
In this video, Bianca of The Closet Historian creates vintage versions of Rebel Alliance costumes. She focuses on neutral separates, but creates a vintage look with hair, makeup, and silhouettes, such as a circle skirt instead of pants.
In this Reel, Instagrammer Shirin Altsohn (@Shirinatra) created six outfits inspired by the Harry Potter Slytherin House for the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Taking inspiration from the green and silver crest featuring a snake in the middle, Altsohn created outfits with those colors in mind. Each outfit combines forest green, black or white for a workwear or elevated casual outfit.
Modern and Vintage LOTR
Paige Loe’s IG Reel features outfits inspired by Lord of the Rings, including several hobbits and wizards. For the hobbits, she notes that they wear colors and textures that feel very English, such as tweeds, plaids, vests, and earth tones. She also adds an all-black outfit with riding boots for Aragorn.
Modern Disney Princesses
In this Disney YouTube video, a mustard-colored lace dress is combined with a denim jacket with rose accents to create a modern Belle look. This approach focuses on color and themes from the story, and less on silhouettes. For Jasmine, a light blue blouse with puffy organza sleeves echoes the shape of her pants in the cartoon. The rest of the outfit incorporated denim and gold-tone accessories. (Creating Disney-inspired outfits is sometimes called Disneybounding when you wear them to Disneyland.)
Next time you’re in a style rut, examine a favorite character's costume. You just might find that there’s something in your closet you can use to approximate her outfit!