Date night, anyone?Have you ever wondered how fashion stylists put outfits together? Just where do they get inspiration for some of their amazing looks? Do they have a secret club? An underground publication? Or do they somehow just “see” combinations that no one else can?

Not exactly.

Fashion stylists, like fashion designers, draw their inspiration from everywhere. Movies are great sources, as are interesting street looks. But a lot of it comes from learning what colors, fabrics, and styles go together, and then mixing them in new, unexpected ways to create an interesting look.

So how can you follow their lead to create interesting new looks for your wardrobe?

By creating your own “look book.”

A “look book” – or portfolio – is a collection of photographs used by models, photographers, designers, and stylists to demonstrate their work. They can carry it with them or post it online to allow potential clients to see their skill.

But it’s also a great way to compile looks you like to use as styling inspiration for yourself.

Have you ever gone to your hairdresser with a picture of a hairstyle you liked and asked her to recreate on you? Or have you ever pulled out a picture from a magazine of a great-looking room you wanted to copy? I think everyone does.

Well, to get inspiration for great outfit ideas, start doing the same thing for clothes. You may have a few pictures here and there – in a pile someplace, or in a file online – but if you get organized with it, put them all in one place, and add to them regularly, Two things will happen:

1. You’ll dress better

2. You’ll shop smarter

Why? Because you’ll begin to “see” combinations like a stylist. You’ll find the same colors and elements used again and again in new and interesting ways. Or, you may discover unlikely combinations that you never thought of before.

I’ve been posting outfits on my Facebook page for the last few days. Some of the most liked include:
Great office look

Great casual look

Great color combo


Some people didn’t like the shoes, others didn’t like top, but these got the most likes for two simple reasons:

1. Simple, clean lines with unexpected pops of color.

2. Easy to recreate from most closets

You don’t have to have the designer brands shown in the pictures. You also don’t have to duplicate every element. Wear different shoes. Skip the earrings if you like.

But do focus on what catches your eye that you can then duplicate from your own closet. Then, get creative.

One of the hottest trends right now is mixing dark red with leopard print. If you like that combination and have those pieces in your closet, consider putting them together. Here’s what I shared on Facebook:

Red and leopard print

Here’s best-dressed reality star Lisa Vanderpump’s take:

Lisa Vanderpump

Lisa Vanderpump and her “Vanderpump Rules” cast
Photo courtesy of

See how interesting this becomes? You probably wouldn’t have thought of combining a red dress and leopard print shoes if you hadn’t seen someone else do it.

That’s what makes a personal “look book” so valuable. You can’t remember every cute combination you see. But if you put them all together in one place and add to and reference them regularly, it will stimulate your creativity.

Black, white, and gray


Like the black and gray but don’t have that exact jacket? No problem! Wear the gray jacket you do have. Or, switch it around and wear gray clothes with a black jacket. Take the elements you like and see if you can duplicate it from pieces you already have. If you can find new ways to wear old favorites, you’ll breathe new life into your wardrobe.

Black, white, and gray

So what’s the easiest way to build a “look book”?

  • If you prefer paper – like pictures from magazines or pictures you printed off from online – then keep them all together in a notebook or folder for easy reference.
  • If you’re a big Pinterest fan, build your own scrapbook, pinning as you surf.
  • The way I tend to do it is by hovering over a picture I like online, right-clicking my mouse, and saving it to the “look book” folder on my hard drive.

Do whatever works best for you. Your end goal is to have it all in one place so you can reference it easily whenever you want.

Then, try some of the styling ideas you see.

Brown and black

What you’ll soon discover is that not only will you dress better, fashion will become fun again because everyone will be super-impressed with your fashion savvy. What do you know that they don’t, dressing like you have a personal stylist?

Just tell them that you have access to a secret underground fashion publication know as the “look book.” They don’t have to know where you got it.   😉


Diana Pemberton-SikesDiana Pemberton-Sikes is an image consultant and author who has helped tens of thousands of women dress better during her fashion career.  If you’d like to know how to dress better but don’t know where to start, grab a copy of Wardrobe Magic.  Read it today, start dressing better tomorrow.


    13 replies to "Look Book: Your Underground Fashion Secret"

    • Carole

      I have seen “boards” such as yours elsewhere….but how do you put all the different pieces together to form these collages? Are they individually clipped/cropped items and you move them around and play with them on a table top or blank document until you have created a grouping you like? Perhaps approach it like pieces of a puzzle?

      • Diana

        Hi Carole,

        You can put these together on your own, or by using the site. The software there allows you to cut-and-paste from their collections of fashion pieces. It’s kind of addictive…

    • Lee A

      I agree with you–this is a good and fun way to have a visual reminder of clothing combinations. Usually I collect pictures of outfits or clothing items, then past them into notebooks or scrapbooks. A fun result is having a history of my past likes and my recurring likes. Some pictures of jewelry provide color combination ideas. –Lee A

      • Diana

        Hi Lee,

        A historical look book – cool! It’s funny how our tastes can change over the years. I bet it’s fun to go back and look. And yes, jewelry can be a great inspiration, as can scarves or other unusual accessories.

    • Elizabeth

      Diana, I so enjoyed this article on the “Look Book” and would love to repost it to my blog for Monday.

      • Diana

        Hi Elizabeth,

        I’m glad you enjoyed it! Yes, you may absolutely repost it, so long as you include a link back to my site. Thanks!

    • Stacey Smart

      Love this tip, Diana! It’s so simple, yet I can see how powerful a tool it is. It’s exciting to think you can train yourself to get good at this stuff. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

      • Diana

        Hi Stacey,

        You can ABSOLUTELY train yourself to do this! All it takes is a little practice. The more combinations you see, the more you’ll “see” combinations from pieces you would have never put together before. That’s why we all need inspiration from time to time: to knock us out of our rut and get our creative juices flowing.

    • Kathy

      This is a fantastic idea and I have already started compiling all the pictures of ‘looks’ I like into my own Look Book. I was wondering how best to categorise the book though? I am going to print mine out.

    • Kathy

      I love this idea and have started to compile my own ‘look book’. I will be printing mine out and was wondering how best to categorise the images to make finding what I’m looking for easier. I already have about 50 looks but some are lounge casual, some are dressed up casual, formal evening, winter versus summer looks. What would you suggest?

      • Diana

        Hi Kathy,

        Glad you liked the idea! If you’re going to print out the pictures, I’d suggest putting them in a 3-ring binder with tabs that make sense to you, like “Business” , “Casual” , “Evening”, “Vacation”, or whatever. You want to be able to find them quickly. Otherwise, you won’t use it.

    • Reagan

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts about look book.


      • Diana

        You’re welcome! Glad I could help! 🙂

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