Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On the Street…..Abstract Inspiration, Milano

I talked about “abstract inspiration” in my book and this photo, I took recently in Milan, is perfect example of this idea.

Sometimes I think the readers of this blog take the images too literally as my suggestion of what you should wear or what I think is super fashionable. To be honest, I’m not sure I actually like anything she is wearing. However this image, as a concept, makes me think… but in the abstract.

Most of the designers I know work this way. They might look at a shot like this and think “uhm….matching hat and coat…uhm interesting, but I wouldn’t do the matching with color but maybe a print instead.” Or, maybe it makes them think about the contrast of a soft, floppy hat paired with a super tailored, structured coat.

To me, this image is in the same vein as the image below of the old Italian gentleman, with the hat and coat that are both patterned. I don’t know if anyone would run out and try to copy this look exactly, but it inspires us in an intangible way.

If you remember this photo was one of the images on Lucas Ossendrijver’s, Lanvin Homme, mood board when the The Selby shot his design studio.

All I’m saying is, sometimes, these images can make you think about something totally different than what the actual shot portrays.


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  1. Jason laucht

    April 14, 2010 at 8:36 am

    bella! and the opa is WOW! go opa!!

  2. Elena

    April 14, 2010 at 8:37 am

    how funny, I took the same girl in hot pink, she was out of the Dolce & Gabbana show!

  3. Stephen

    April 14, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Scott, completely see where you're coming from and agree with you.

    Seeing a particularly image might not provide direct inspiration when thinking about what to wear and how to dress in the future but can set off a kind of 'chain reaction', I think.

    In fact, it's probably where most people's inspiration comes from. I guess it boils down to always keeping your eyes open, approach what you see with an open mind, and deconstruct and reconstruct it as one sees fit?

    Ah, the wonders of human imagination.


    I quite like the old Italian gent's coat, jacket, and hat patterns.

  4. Kazuko

    April 14, 2010 at 8:41 am

    hm, actually i don't think that your readers take your images as a kind of style advisor. Many comments show that. Of course, sometimes it's all about what people in your images wear, because most of them are indeed very stylish and fashionable. but i'm sure that most of your readers do get that it's about the whole concept of the image and not about a hat, bag, coat or colour.

  5. Lemon for breakfast

    April 14, 2010 at 8:41 am

    wooow! I really love the last pic! :)

  6. loren barake

    April 14, 2010 at 8:48 am

    that's how you create a mood board and get inspired…anybody who works in fashion knows that…

  7. Anonymous

    April 14, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Love the post, but

    To me, this image is in the same vain* as the image below of the old Italian gentleman with the hat and coat that are both patterned. I don't know if anyone would run out and try to copy this look exactly but it inspires us in an intangable* way.


  8. M

    April 14, 2010 at 8:54 am

    i love to wear dresses inspired by my favorite abstract painting. i love your point of view. cool inspiration board.


  9. Charlie

    April 14, 2010 at 8:56 am

    I think that's really nicely put.

    There will always be something in a picture that will inspire somebody, somewhere.


    April 14, 2010 at 9:08 am

    I think that I like the fashion statement the older gentleman is making. I love it!

  11. Middleseason

    April 14, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Dear Sart,
    my attitude to your photos is to use them. I use them to satisfy my natural "visually greed" (quoting you). I use your blog to open my mind on the world and on the difference between people. Because not all the people are equal, fortunately!
    Thanks for it.

  12. Dominica

    April 14, 2010 at 9:25 am

    true, inspiration can be seen in anything.
    That's why I try to live with all my 5 senses in stereo !
    You could miss out on so many things when you don't use those senses to the fullest !
    note to myself ; must by that book by The Selby

  13. Punctuation Mark

    April 14, 2010 at 9:26 am

    When I design I usually am like that… tons of images up of places, people, things, and anything that help the muses inspire me… it's a combination of your surroundings what inspires you… have a great day!

  14. Brigadeiro

    April 14, 2010 at 9:32 am

    I, for one…am inspired by the glorious colour in the first picture…

  15. Anonymous

    April 14, 2010 at 9:37 am

    i agree with you. it´s all about being inspired and motivated to think about your everyday life and what you´re doing with your possibilities.
    love the old man!

  16. Davidikus

    April 14, 2010 at 9:42 am

    That is a very good post, because it confirms to me the point of streetstyle blogs. I was first enthusiastic about them, then surprised by the number of them (& the poor quality of many). I also tend to think many have lost the plot, what with their heavy focus on celebrity spotting. (I really don't care what the Olsen sisters were wearing, even at a Lanvin show).

    The sheer number of people on the planet, all wearing different outfits, means that there will be loads of good ideas floating around. It does not mean they will turn into a good outfit or a good design, but it's nice to see them for inspiration. (On my own blog,, what I try to do is to get design/image inspiration from random things in my life – it can be a bin, a phonebooth, trash, lamp posts. It's not only about the concept because I want my image to be interesting but the idea of mixing shapes, patterns etc. is almost the same.)

    Thanks for a very good post, which shows while your blog is miles ahead of many of its copycats!

  17. Anonymous

    April 14, 2010 at 9:44 am

    "It's not where you take it from, it's where you take it to."

    Jean-Luc Godard

  18. kaye

    April 14, 2010 at 9:48 am

  19. Daniel

    April 14, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Grape hubba bubba?

  20. Carolina

    April 14, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I totally agree. I read this blog not because I love certain clothes (if I would, probably I couldn't afford them) but because of the style, the inspiration… Many times, it's the whole image, the combination of different elements, the hair, the way the person stands in front of the camera…

    When you become a teenager you begin to worry about your beauty and attractiveness, and I always remember my father telling me not to get obsessed with my nose, my hair, my breast… but to try to look at myself as a whole image!

    The trick might be on finding those little details which make the whole image different and stylish.

  21. Neha

    April 14, 2010 at 10:07 am

    I am liking your text-based posts…taking the blog to the next level.

    I feel like you are hitting on exactly what so many fashion aspirants miss–they get caught up in the individual items and not the big picture. They see the image for what it is, not for what it says or the feeling it conjures. Beyond "it" bags and shoes, I regularly see people covet everyday items in uninspired ways, as if buying a Saint James shirt because you have the money is a ticket to chicness.

  22. SabinePsynopsis

    April 14, 2010 at 10:08 am

    The abstract inspiration is certainly way more interesting than a finished look. My questions mostly circle around more abstract themes, e.g. a colour or a certain shape. Actually, I don't even think I wear most outfits the way I show them on my blog – it's about the ideas, more than anything else.

  23. @nnoushka

    April 14, 2010 at 10:11 am

    I totally agree with you, always thought your pictures were a "source d'inspiration"….I also love the idea that everywhere in the world people are expressing themselves with clothes, and inspiring us too!

  24. bodicegoddess

    April 14, 2010 at 10:19 am

    This post encompasses the reason I subscribed to your blog.

    I'm a costumer and a budding fashion designer, and, in looking for inspiration, I happened upon you. I've been saving your pictures in a stash as inspiration both for the looks I create and in creating my own personal sense of style.

    Thanks for providing me a stepping stone.

  25. F (The Very Subjective)

    April 14, 2010 at 10:20 am

    abstract inspiration!

    that is exactly what I was thinking (I just didn't know it, haha)!

    and then you walk around the internet saying that you "can't put words so beautifully together as garance does"!

    you took my thoughts and wrote them down, thank you!

  26. Mariona

    April 14, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Honestly, I do not think everybody does a copy-paste-wear show us the looks. They are interpretations of what you consider your own trend or not, beauty, rarity, attitude, knowledge to be … When contemplating your bums, I could get through his eyes, his gestures, his attitude, a way through life, a story hidden or not, beauty, life … although I value in each generation look different attitudes life, fashion, its ironies and contradictions.
    Anything can be inspiring … my honest opinion
    Sorry for the English translation.

  27. luise

    April 14, 2010 at 10:26 am

    i loove opa styles…watch them in the train and on the streets…but i am to shy to ask them where they got their clothes from…sometimes it looks like labels like supreme are inspired by their style…nice pictures!!!

  28. Felicity

    April 14, 2010 at 10:26 am

    The hat and coat AND the lining of the trench. : )

  29. proletarian Great Gatsby

    April 14, 2010 at 10:30 am

    I agree with you.Often an image brings you to an idea and this one to another one and this to another until you arrive to news and interestings thoughts that could be far from the original image or picture.That is the important and significant:the result …that can be also a first sped to new ways.

  30. -h

    April 14, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I totally agree with your idea of abstract inspiration. I know myself I take from it too. I will see someone or a picture, and I may not want to wear the exact clothes, but I may like the proportions, silhouette, or the color combination. For the girl, I like how she pairs the magenta with the brown boots. I think it creates a more sophisticated combination than black and magenta.
    The older gentleman, fantastic, I like how we see all the different plaids, but also his poise. The way the trench is over his shoulders.


    April 14, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Wow, I love the color in the first outfit. That is one of my favorite colors. x

  32. Jeannie

    April 14, 2010 at 10:36 am

    i totally agree –
    I can understand how some visitors may use these images more literally than creative inspiration. Which is totally viable and a great way to cultivate ones own style.
    however, many others also visit to experience a concept, a feeling or a mood in order to inspire their own expression, whatever that may be.

    i appreciate you trying to explain that to everyone – but maybe you don't even need to…

  33. robin

    April 14, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Thank you for this succinct and articulate way of expressing this idea.
    I often notice that I design my home (current and past) interiors using menswear as my inspiration.
    I agree with the post by Stephen.
    Appreciation from VT.

  34. NeNe In Style

    April 14, 2010 at 10:58 am

    truly inspirational words, thank you!

  35. Meg

    April 14, 2010 at 11:22 am

    That is why humans are such interesting creatures to view, we perceive and bring our own perspectives into the image and take what motivates us to a new level.

    Where many blogs of late focus on street style, and with that the breaking down of the photo into components, your images are framed so as to take a snippet, a moment, and the brain reads as such, definitely about the art/photography than the subject in most cases.

  36. Anonymous

    April 14, 2010 at 11:25 am

    I love what you wrote…
    It really is about how our vision and how we hold an image…I love what you wrote, because we all interpret an image through our own reality. Our interpretation is how we create and inspire others to continue their unique expression of style..& life! With much appreciation.Thanks…..L

  37. thwany

    April 14, 2010 at 11:50 am

    love the colors on her


    April 14, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Love the purple jacket, stand out from the crowd

  39. Gene Wicker Jr

    April 14, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Love her coat, bag and hat. No crazy about the boots.

  40. Anonymous

    April 14, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    but I like the colour! it's so fresh and eye-catching!

  41. mabelmabel

    April 14, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Yes, Scott! Again, LOVE YOUR EYE.

  42. TorontoVerve.:

    April 14, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Love the action shot…beautiful color. Thanks for sharing.

  43. Anonymous

    April 14, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I see what you mean with the inspiration board. It is wonderful to come onto your site and think about clothes, how to put them together differently, how to wear just about anything but with a style.

  44. MT Days & Nights

    April 14, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I agree. Her outfit as a whole isn't really something I'd look at and say "I wanna wear that". She does stand out though.

  45. Anonymous

    April 14, 2010 at 12:44 pm


  46. Sognatrice

    April 14, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    The last picture is great!!

  47. Prutha

    April 14, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    inspiration does come from a lot of things and ur right in saying that it cant be literal all the time…infact it has to be abstarct to be original…

  48. Lisa C.

    April 14, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    I just love seeing what's out there, Scott. I don't feel that I need to go out and spend lots of $$$ on cool stuff. I AM totally inspired to pull stuff out of my own closet and rock them to best of my ability. Like Scoop says, "if you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own". 'Nuff said…

  49. TheFashionAddict

    April 14, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I agree, it's all about inspiration.

  50. sherie'

    April 14, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    working as a painter i am fascinated at the myriad relationships in your images. on some level i think it is absorbed and used in my work, not in a literal sense, but some other intangible way. also, i have started to think so differently a bout how i can put my clothes together. thank you for all of this. s

  51. Jonathan Burton

    April 14, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Nice to see Burberry being re-appropriated by its rightful class of people

  52. Mathias Christoffersen

    April 14, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Yes, I actually agree with you. This just gave me some inspiration, for my next blog post, thanks hun!

  53. CHEEK

    April 14, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Sometimes, coherence is conceived and inspired by chaos.

  54. Alizée G.

    April 14, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    c'est une merveille, la premiere fille est splendide, tellement sobre malgre ce violet petant, les bottes en jettent aussi :)
    joli pelle-melle.
    Bisous, bisous, Alizée G.

  55. Caddy

    April 14, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    HEAR HEAR!! What you say is SO TRUE!!! Images can go beyond the literal.

  56. K. M.

    April 14, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    We get it, Scott—it's all about inspiration not verbatim
    match-ups! Keep up the good work…

  57. Kathleen

    April 14, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    This is very interesting Scott. Funny, but when I look at both of these photographs I find them oddly comforting. Let me explain.

    Since I am an artist myself, certain things create order for me. Artistic order, order in my thinking as an artist, i.e. how I appreciate art. Color and pattern are definitely way up there.

    Both the striking color of the woman's hat and coat, paired with the boots and purse that are somehow out of place yet still they work, and the gentleman with the matching hat and coat and everything else tonally perfect is to me the way things should work. In balance, but slightly out of balance. Am I making sense here?

    For instance; when I look at the photograph of the women, her boots and purse are what I see first rather than the hat and coat matching, and when I look at the photograph of the gentleman, his camels hair coat is what I see first rather than his matching coat and hat.

    There, I've said it. Abstract is right, and I like it!

  58. fashionweed

    April 14, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    well said. your blog will continue to inspire well into the future. i adore all your photos.

  59. The Iconic

    April 14, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    That magenta coat is stunning! What a bold look with the matching hat.

  60. Julia, the Thanksgiving Girl

    April 14, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    With the older Italian gentleman photo, it's also the inner trench's Burberry plaid that adds to the combo of the patterned hat and the patterned sportscoat! That's some very powerful effect that really captures attention, the trinity effect of plaid ha

  61. The Photodiarist

    April 14, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Well said. Also, I love the look on the woman – especially that the boots and coat and hat are in varying shades of magenta.

  62. chula

    April 14, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    all we need is color;-))


    April 14, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    fashion is art. if anyone can understand that, then they can understand why some outfits are purely there for us to look and drool at – or to make us think and ponder about color, shapes, texture, etc.

    The fashion that is "unwearable" in "real life" should make you take a 2nd look, but should it always be worn? No way, that would take away from the beauty of it!

    On another note, i definitely love the girl in purple. I think, without THAT HAT, it would not have EVEN CLOSE to the same effect that this picture has, agreed. I also love the color combo.

    I rarely wear dark shades of purple, b/c its such a heavy color. (although this is somewhat of a fuchsia) I have a gorgeous purple blouse i wear in the summer; paired with white linen pants, its perfection! Not heavy at all, but refreshing.

    Oh, and i think the man in the hat looks fantastic. i wish men in America dressed up more.

  64. Anonymous

    April 14, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    yeah, yeah, yeah. but the bag and the boots still don't go well together.

  65. Sarah

    April 14, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I love the pink coat and hat on that girl. Stunning. x

  66. Blanca

    April 14, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I love the colorful outfit of the woman, the bag is very beautiful, the other photos are also great.


  67. Matheus

    April 14, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I think that the only theory about photographic interpretation is that there is no theory at all…

  68. VEES

    April 14, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    As a designer I can understand and appreciate your feelings on abstract inspiration. When I look for inspiration from photos/images I design from my reaction to it. Sometimes it could be the mood, a feeling, colors, textures, tones, contrasts, shapes, figures, etc.

  69. Anonymous

    April 14, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    The gent reminds me of photos of the late Paul Castellano.

  70. jasper

    April 14, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    This is going to be ridiculous, given the context of the post: Does anyone know where those boots are from?

  71. Living The Vogue

    April 14, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    this color purple is great!

  72. lumikha

    April 14, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    well put mr. scott. :)

  73. Izzen

    April 14, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Ohh, they're all so fabulous!

  74. Villa Nellcote

    April 14, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Yip yip! As a man, I don't take much from the guy photos, but lots from the girls…I dress from the girls' images.

    I think I got 4 outfits out of "On the Street…..Graphic Chic, NYC"

  75. Mo

    April 14, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    wow that first picture makes me want to sport fuschia!

  76. FlashFash

    April 14, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    That old Italian gentleman really sure got style. Love the plaid detail on his coat and blazer. Oh, and the pocket square and the tie and that hat, so perfect!

  77. battlingthedinosaurs

    April 14, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    I love her fuchsia hat!

  78. -Fredrik

    April 14, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    That picture of that King(?) in Ossendrijver's photo collection, where does he come from?
    To me, he looks like king Oscar the first or perhaps the second of Sweden, am I right?



  79. Anonymous

    April 14, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    just lovely!!!!

  80. The SB Room

    April 14, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    The coat, amazing colour

  81. The SB Room

    April 14, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    The coat, amazing colour

  82. emthepirate

    April 14, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    this shot is about texture and balance to me

    thank you for your eye Scott.

  83. Anonymous

    April 14, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    I love when older men choose to go dashing and colorful rather than the drawstring pants-sweatshirts route. This guy will be my role model when – and if – I make it to his age.

  84. ChervelleCamille

    April 14, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Well said, Scott! I completely agree with you. It's like you have said previously, and I constantly repeat to myself because it is so perfectly put "IT'S NOT WHAT YOU WEAR, BUT HOW YOU WEAR IT".
    I do like how both the young woman and elderly gentleman have a similar composition capped off in their own suited style!

  85. CW

    April 14, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    I think that somewhere there is a photo of Rex Harrison dressed in almost the same manner.

  86. subjective=differentlevelsofobjectivity

    April 15, 2010 at 12:06 am

    I love that there are no rules when pairing up prints or geometery…..

  87. Stacey Kay

    April 15, 2010 at 12:50 am

    I'm loving this purple ensemble! The hat is superb!

  88. Emily McGuire

    April 15, 2010 at 1:09 am

    As a fashion design student, 80% of the designers around me work this way. I don't believe fashion is always art aesthetically, but certainly in the process of design development.

    Chervelle Camille, I do believe that Scott was not the first to relay that quote. My great grandmother passed it onto me many years ago. It was quoted from Armani, I think.

  89. princessglee

    April 15, 2010 at 1:52 am

    Thanks for 'splainin'.

  90. nadiah

    April 15, 2010 at 3:05 am

    That's exactly how I use your pictures for inspiration. I have quite the collection of photos on my computer (sorry!) and I use what speaks to me.

  91. Hugo Hase

    April 15, 2010 at 3:09 am

    If I ever get as old as that gentleman, this will be my signature look :-)

    It looks ab fab!

  92. Anonymous

    April 15, 2010 at 3:35 am

    thank you for talking about abstract inspiration. recently i think you also referred to "visual greed" in a similar way. i am always curious to see the comments of fellow posters but am often disappointed when i read comments such as, "She should have worn a different shoe," or "the length of the coat is all wrong." i feel these people are missing the point. as i understand it, the photos you post are merely starting off points – bits of inspiration which the viewer can take any (or no) part of- and not fodder for fashion critique.

  93. costume jewellery

    April 15, 2010 at 5:45 am

    You can find inspiration everywhere if you look hard enough.

  94. the concept dresser

    April 15, 2010 at 9:34 am

    I think this is what makes somebody a fashion professional

  95. stephanie_press

    April 15, 2010 at 11:44 am

    To copy the look…that would dishonor the whole point of it! I agree, it's more about inspiration. Telling a story, as you have said before…

  96. nancy : The Sway Report

    April 15, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    It's good to not take fashion too seriously. In fact, perhaps the young lady with all the fuchsia is making some sort of statement, never imagining she would end up on the Sartorialist for it.

    She does make quite a composition! I like this whimsical, care to the wind type of outfit!

  97. men's t-shirts

    April 15, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    No one does it like the Italians

  98. Anonymous

    April 15, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    For me a picture often creates a feeling, a kind of knowing or memory and it will pop up, unexpectedly, yet as if it was always meant to be, in something I wear,in my garden plants or in my house – that little piece of inspiration itching to release itself from my sub conscious. I think this is the point of Art and why I love to take the time to view the world from an others perspective. Thanks Scott

  99. Milt-fresh_best-dressed

    April 15, 2010 at 8:48 pm


  100. Poivre Monkey

    April 16, 2010 at 11:56 am

    i love ht eold man

  101. J

    April 16, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    "Sometimes I think the readers of this blog take the images too literally as my suggestion of what you should wear or what I think is super fashionable. To be honest, I'm not sure I actually like anything she is wearing."

    for someone who doesn't really have a fashion sense, this certainly is a good excuse :p

  102. Le Jardin

    April 16, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    love the pictures. especially the ones of the old men in the normal for them but inspirational for others.

    visit, leave your mark, follow?

  103. Anonymous

    April 18, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Where are those gorgeous brown boots from?!

  104. emily

    April 20, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    totally agree. even in large design companies it seems inspirational images can be misinterpreted or taken too literally. we're talking forest–they're focusing in on a single tree.

  105. Anonymous

    May 13, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Oh my God, finally a PURPLE COAT! You know, purple is my colour I love boh to watch it and wear it. Also love the style of the lady, nice boots – A bi of the western, a bit of the Italian cities, chic heels.
    Anyway, great blog, close to my style. My only sorrow is that in my hometown (Cluj, Romania) people are too limited to express themselves with their outfit, so usually i'm strange bird on the streets.

  106. Anonymous

    June 4, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    I believe that is what separates you as an artist. You see subtle suggestions, they inspire you to think. It doesn't require much thought to buy clothes "off a rack" as you say, but then again, as Oscar Wilde once said,"Life imitates art".

  107. Annette Jackson

    December 12, 2011 at 8:43 am

    I love cool T-Shirts from undisclosed places.

  108. Name*

    March 12, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    Actually most of us are just enjoying the beautiful photographs, and it is fun to see what people look like in cities far away.

  109. ann

    March 14, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    ahh… I love that color!!!

  110. Eastman Exports

    January 23, 2019 at 4:44 am

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