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A Stroke of the Brush

June 9, 2011

Disclaimer: This post was originally written for Style Wok, an upcoming site about fashion.

Every season, designers reference art history in their work. Artists and time periods are huge sources of inspiration in the fashion world, so why not take a page out of their book and turn to some of the most famous paintings as guides for your look?


Starry Night by Van Gogh


This epitome of expressionist painting is rich with color inspiration. No outfit inspired by Starry Night would be complete without notes of blue and yellow. The following look takes a twist on the classics, just like Van Gogh,  by using pieces with abstract patterns in a timeless silhouette. The black sandals keep the outfit rooted, and are taken from the black mountain looming over the countryside.


Starry Night

Starry Night by Stylewok featuring betsey johnson jewelry

Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth

Christina’s clothes in this haunting piece may be the last thing you notice, but once you pay attention they’re a great source of inspiration for a modern look. These lace-up booties keep the overall vibe of the outfit without compromising on style.


Christina's World

Christina’s World by Stylewok featuring lace up booties

Girl With the Pearl Earring by Vermeer

I see this painting as an interesting source for work wear. The headscarf translates into the shirt and scarf, while the top works perfectly as neutral trousers. The pop of color in the shoes comes from her bright red lip, and the outfit is completed with – what else? – pearl earrings.


Girl With the Pearl Earring

Girl With the Pearl Earring by Stylewok featuring cotton twill pants

Paul Gauguin

Much of Gauguin’s work was inspired by his time spent in French Polynesia. The bright colors, bold patterns, and tropical themes of his paintings can easily influence a boho look. This maxi-dress has the perfect print, and the accessories have the look and feel of all-natural materials.




Gaughin by Stylewok featuring wood bracelets

Portrait of Sylvia von Harding by Otto Dix

This portrait, one of Dix’s most famous works, bristles with the feel of the height of Berlin’s underground scene. Take cues from the dark colors and angst by wearing a sharply tailored black and red plaid jacket, slim trousers and combat boots. Instead of wearing a monocle, try these earrings.

Monet’s Water Lillies


To me, Monet’s water lillies cry out to be translated into an old-school version of sophistication – a classic Upper East Side chic that takes its reference points from the soft colors and fluidity of the strokes and water themes.


Monet's Water Lillies

Monet’s Water Lillies by Stylewok featuring sweetheart neckline tops

Large Red Interior by Henri Matisse

Matisse is known for his rich, bright colors so he’s perfect to turn to when you’re in the mood for color-blocking. This particular painting, bursting with primary colors, calls for a fun and carefree look.



Matisse by Stylewok featuring heel pumps

Picasso’s Blue Period

Or, if you’re more in the mood for a monochromatic look, turn to Picasso’s Blue Period. Blue is the easiest way to pull this trend off because the varying shades enhance the overall vibe, rather than looking mismatched. The slouchiness of this casual outfit matches the mood that pervaded the period.


Picasso's Blue Period

Picasso’s Blue Period by Stylewok featuring tying shoes

Degas’ Ballerinas

You don’t have to don a tutu to take inspiration from Degas’ series of ballerina paintings and sculptures. Instead, go for a playful look with a full white skirt and accents of blue. Ballet flats are, of course, a must.


Degas Ballerina

Degas Ballerina by Stylewok featuring floral shoes

Madame X by John Singer Sargent

Last but not least, we have the sultry portrait of Madame X. The controversial painting is one of the first examples of linking black dresses and sex appeal. This modernized version pays homage to the original piece, which had the right strap falling off her shoulder. The chain straps also play into the hardware details of the belt, purse strap, and exposed metal heels, while the earrings reflect the legs of the table.



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