What Inspires You When Building A Coord?

This is always a fascinating question. We’re all individuals and despite loving the same fashion, we look at it and experience it differently, leading to people creating beautiful yet varied coords with the same main piece for example. Everyone has their own process and will find different things inspiring, so it’s not just interesting to see how this looks for others, but could also help us improve our own outfits.

I feel like I don’t have one set inspiration or even way of building a coord. If I do, I haven’t noticed a pattern yet. However, there are some things that I always take into consideration when building a coord: the dress, the occasion and the theme.

In most cases the dress will be enough to inspire an outfit – hah!, multiple outfits even! Lolita dresses are known for intricate details in both print and construction, so you could literally pick any one thing from it: a colour, a motif in the print, the lace, the things it makes you think of – anything! To use an example, in my coord using British Crown I picked at the obvious theme of crowns first, through socks and jewellery, and then tried to accentuate the royal theme using jewel toned tricolour. On the other hand, my Summer ILD outfit focused more on the colours and materials of the dress to exude a sense of luxury and royalty, completely ignoring the print in that outfit. Of course, your coord could be inspired by another piece of your outfit: a blouse, a bolero, socks, even a necklace. But you do need a starting point of some kind if it’s the item of clothing itself that inspired you to create an outfit.

If the dress itself doesn't inspire you, then are you
really seeing it in all its glory?

However, the dress is only part of it, you also need an occasion or a reason to wear it. This will both help to determine the practicalities (things like will you have to wear sensible shoes or are you going to be in air conditioned spaces) as well as the level of OTT that’d be appropriate (not to say that you can’t do more casual outfit for a tea party or an OTT one for a casual meet – consider whether you’d feel under-/overdressed or whether it’s practical to wear that). Usually the occasion and the activities you’ll take part in will inspire you as to what to wear. For example, because Winter ILD was in, well, winter I really wanted to celebrate that occasion by creating a look that would evoke snow and cold temperatures in a sort of Snow/Ice Queen kind of way. And for comparison, when going to Manchester Museum I had already worn this skirt when travelling, so I just had to think carefully about what I’m packing and ensure that it’d be comfortable enough to walk in (flat shoes, socks that don’t fall down) and warm enough for the weather (I still needed my jacket, but it didn’t clash that badly).

Big events or small meets, you'll know what
to do. (Though for an OTT lover like me the
big events are more up my street!)

Finally we come to the theme. Sometimes that theme will come from the occasion: a themed meet or the event theme. Other times the theme might already be present in the dress or you might feel like adding a theme to a dress that doesn’t already incorporate it. Creating outfits based on themes can sometimes be a lot easier as you will have some sort of preconception of what an outfit like this should include and look like – there’s a little less thinking involved because you almost follow a template with some of the themes. To show what I mean between a theme, a ready-made theme and an added theme, I’ll use these three outfits: Wicked and Whimsy day 1 coord, Fortune Telling meet coord and Cardigan Meet coord. The first one was made with Team Whimsy in mind, but whimsy is so open to interpretation that everyone who was Team Whimsy that day wore something completely different. This was just one person’s take on it. The Fortune Teller is what I’d consider to be a template theme: we all have an idea of what a fortune teller looks like, what kinds of elements their dress includes that need to be transferred over to a Lolita coord and you build from there. As for added theme, it’s when a dress doesn’t have a certain theme in it (or any theme at all), but you decide to work it into an outfit anyway. Sweets and matryoshka dolls have nothing to do with marine themes, but because the colours worked together it was easy to incorporate a sailor collar cardigan, some anchor OTKs and a beret worn almost like a sailor’s cap to make the two themes blend. (Maybe the Biscuit Meet coord would’ve been a better example: polka dots and cherries have nothing in common, but the colours and the plain background of the dress made way for accessorising it in a way themed around cherries.)

Themes can be great triggers for
moments of inspiration

This is a big generalisation on coord building inspirations, but it does cover pretty much everything without going into details on putting the coord together. Looking at other people’s cords is always inspiring in and of itself as you get to see other people’s vision or pick up little tricks of the trade on how to make your coord more on point and more blended together – but even then I’m still considering things like the main piece, the occasion or the theme.

What inspires you when you’re putting together an outfit? Have you noticed any common threads? I’d be very curious to know!


  1. Great to see that you try to work around the theme of the event/meet. You have some great tips for building a coord especially the tips for looking at the occasion and activities. Those make such a difference when making a coord!

    1. Most of the time the themes sound so exciting that I want to work with it, even though I know I don't have to. It's a perfect opportunity to try something new which otherwise maybe I wouldn't have attempted. And as a lazy person, I'd rather just build a coord around comfortable walking shoes than carry a change of shoes with me for when my feet get tired. Flat shoes can be cute too! :P

  2. I usually see how far I can take something, I have a lot of themed jewelry and neutral basis in socks and blouses, even shoes! Some mainpieces has a very specific theme, but luckily they are neutral in colour/ cut, so I can just tone it down.

    1. That's an excellent idea! Sometimes you could really surprise yourself if you try and push as far as the dress will go. It may turn out that there are far more outfits that you could do with one main piece than you previouly thought - or you could discover a whole new level of OTT. Either way, going as far as you can could be a phenomenally inspiring journey!

  3. I like the idea of using the dress itself as a jumping off point, and it's really useful when you have a theme to be inspired by. I don't think I've ever been to a meet that was specifically set around a theme, but I can imagine it's a lot of fun wearing a kind of meetup uniform with everyone! I suppose it's the same with events-- the annual TPC event is fun in terms of the fact a lot of people go all out and try to match the event name/theme. It gives the opportunity to break out some of the pieces you might not normally get a chance to for local casual meets!

    My immediate thought was that my outfits never seem to have a theme, but on reflection, I definitely base a lot of my outfits on my mood and the kind of mood I want my clothes to evoke that day, which is a theme in itself! The weather can also have a massive impact on my outfits, and not merely in terms of their practicality. I find I prefer wearing black on dark, rainy days, and pastels when it's sunny. The psychology behind coord building would make an interesting research project I'm sure!

    1. It's not always possible to have a themed meet and even when there is a themed meet we explicitly say that people aren't obliged to follow it (they may not have pieces fitting the theme or not like the theme or just prefer to wear something else). Usually most comms seem to do a themed meet for holidays like Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's etc. I love all the stops that people pull out for big events like TPC or street Fashion Europe in trying to match the theme! It's SOOO inspiring to see how people have interpreted that, how they brought pieces which you may not have thought to use and what have they done to really BRING IT for the event. I think there will be quite a few surprises this August and I absolutely can't wait! <3

      It makes sense that your clothes might reflect the weather, consciously or not. I don't really get inspired by moods, but that might be because I don't wear Lolita as often. My moods with Lolita tend to be limited to wants: I want to wear this dress, I want to be comfortable or I want to go all out (within limits). And these aren't particularly mood-like. :P


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