How to create a look book in 5 easy steps by lady Sarah

Since my schooldays, (complete with braces and outrageously bad haircuts) I’ve kept fashion notebooks and collected my precious vogue cuttings. Pictures speak a thousand words the saying goes and ain’t that the truth…

Pretty much all my friends kept scrapbooks or had boxes full of magazine cuttings. Nowadays there is also pintrest, such an amazing resource!
The trick is to translate that ‘collection’ into workable and more or less useful reference for real life.

Why bother with a look book?
A look book is key to refining personal style and distinguishing between real & imaginary shopping needs.
  A look book can help with being suitably dressed for any occasion!

The trick is to translate that 'collection' of scrappy cuttings, into workable and more or less useful reference for real life

The trick is to translate that ‘collection’ of scrappy cuttings, into workable and more or less useful reference for real life

How to go about creating a look book
Step # one
Establish the filing system, I use A4 ‘flip books’ black covers, (so they don’t get tatty) with clear sleeves. Then I just slot the pictures in the empty folders, very easy to edit as well. When a look is no longer relevant it just gets removed. It’s best to be strict, no more than. say 10 images per lookbok, keep it manageable. I still use pintrest, but for the looks I really like to refer to. I prefer the physical to the digital.

Step # two
Collect your images. Realistically this should be a long term on going process. Although I like pintrest, my preference is for a physical look book, that can be handled and kept near my dressing area. Old and current copies of vogue, vanity fair, town & country, Harrods magazine that sort of thing. Fabric swatches and the like can also be useful for colour & texture reference but remember not to hoard….

look books are created to suit different requirements and occasions...

A number of look books are created to suit different requirements and occasions…office look book, cool denim outfits, Christmas party and so on… This one is for my little tête-à-têtes with the Queen.

Step # three
Group favourite images into ‘collections’ for example I’ve got the ‘office wardrobe’ lookbook, my ‘weekend ‘offduty’ look book, the ‘cool jeans’ look book, ‘Christmas party’ look book, and so on… To make it really useful refer to real life pie chart. If you are just getting started my suggestion would be to keep it simple. Create just two distinct lookbooks. The Casual day wear look book and the fantasy lifestyle one. The fantasy lifestyle one may need a bit of refining, but it’s good to have some over the top visual reference too.

Step # four
Edit edit edit. Look at the hair of the model, the accessories, the proportions of the outfit. There is a story there, where is this lovely lady dressed for? Where is she going and would you like her to be your friend? Your boss? If not, why not? The very best handbag is wasted on the wrong outfit. Super-high heels look good, mostly if we never actually move, ok for posing but not much else. Study the silhouette, the proportion and the detail. Sometimes in photos, cheap poorly made clothes, can be made to look as good as expensive well made ones, but they will not function so well! Consider the reality aspect.

Step # five
Use the lookbooks! The photos should help identify any ‘holes’ in the wardrobe. I use my look books to check what outfits can be cobbled together from existing clothes I already own, but most importantly refer to them when Shopping. It’s incredible how many people buy, as an of hand example, the latest IT bag, because it’s popular and every one has it, BUT it has no connection whatsoever with the rest of their wardrobe. Instant style massacre! Few things look worse than expensive items worn the ‘wrong’ way.

 I use a4 'flip books' with clear sleeves.

Basic A4 ‘folders’ with clear plastic sleeves are transformed into a collection of lookbooks.

© Ladysarahinlondon

Forthcoming post: updating my office wardrobe, lookbook and the etiquette.
Personal style posts:
Personal style (part 1): Everyday wardrobe essentials
Personal style (part 2): The colour palette.
Shopping the classics (and still looking cutting edge)
Love thy wardrobe

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14 thoughts on “Personal style (part 6): How to create a (valuable) fashion look book, by lady Sarah

  1. Pret A Porter P

    I used to do this when I was younger, I still have my “tear sheet” binder. I think I hoarded a lot of images with tailored suits and jeans w/ blazers. it would be interesting to see how much my wardrobe resembles these clippings from 4564728826357 years ago.

    I totally agree with expensive items worn the wrong way, I definitely screw this up on a regular basis.

    Reply
  2. coulda shoulda woulda

    I love pinterest for the very reason that i had so many cut outs and then i had books of ready done cut outs but during the renovations i had so many boxes of things so now i rely on pinterest exclusively for the sake of clutter.

    Reply
  3. Mina

    thank you dear lady Sarah, fantastic ideas and so simple! will give this a try as I really need to get my shopping more focused. I am always buying ‘random useless items’ that do not add up into a good look.

    Reply
  4. silkpathdiary

    I used to keep a scrap book when I used to read all the magazines then when I stopped, I collected the images onto my blog. They help me most with styling because I’m SO rubbish with that and the happy result is getting more use out of what I have. I found an old scarpbook when clearing out, it’s hilarious to see but also shows how little my taste has changed in 30 years! x

    Reply
  5. Virginia

    Do you think if we all started a letter writing campaign to the Queen’s secretary, we could get you an audience? I feel you deserve it, and I’ll bet you have the best look book ever for that event (s). Seriously, I love you look books. I started to do this back 100 years ago when there was no internet, and I eagerly awaited each months fashion magazine to determine my looks for the season. I do not have nearly as many great categories as I do not have your eventful life, I just need casual/work and going out/to Seattle books!

    Reply

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