?' la Mode: A Guide to Style

The art of dressing

The Spectrum

May has arrived, and that means we're honing in on the last couple of days of classes, papers and exams. It also means that this Friday night is First Friday at the Albright Knox Art Gallery, and the First Friday gallery walk in Allentown. Next week, be sure to celebrate the last day of classes by paying a to visit the Burchfield Penney Art Center for Second Friday. The galleries are free and open to the public.

Part of developing your personal style is finding what constantly strikes you - what inspires you as you look into your closet in the morning. Inspiration could be a book you adore, your favorite flower, or a fashion blogger whose closet you'd like to replicate.

If you're heading to an art gallery this weekend, use that as your inspiration.

Like fashion, works of art in all media are forms of expression and since each work is unique, you can really focus on what makes your personal style personal. Art can translate the sometimes incoherent, jarring and sublime ways we put together colors and styles in our everyday clothing.

I've picked out two of my favorite works from the Albright Knox collection that can be recreated in fashion form. Pick out your favorite works of art, and I'll show you how to turn them into your favorite outfit.

Harlequin (Project for a Monument), Pablo Picasso (1935)

Known for his complex use of color, lines and shapes, Picasso is an artist who provides the perfect canvas for choosing an outfit. Though every morning I spend too much time looking at the print of The Artist and his Model (1964) stuck on the wall next to my vanity mirror, Harlequin strikes me as easily recreatable.

Here, I'm wearing colored tights from Target, a black and white print skirt from PacSun, a navy blue Forever 21 turtleneck, navy blue brogues and my yellow cloche hat from Target.

Each color I chose directly corresponds to what Picasso chose for his beret-wearing harlequin. Of course, you could be even more literal with a yellow dress and a purple beret.

What struck me about this work is the use of significant black lines that separate each color from the surrounding ones. This creates shapes within defined boundaries - nothing bleeds into the rest of the work.

The skirt recreates Harlequin's defined shapes, separating colors from each other while replicating the graphic in its print.

The Transparent Simulacrum of the Feigned Image, Salvador Dali (1938)

Whether you first see the bowl of food sitting on a table or the landscape of a bay and mountains, the floating, lightly colored objects of Dali's painting demand melancholic attention.

Composed of moving neutrals, recreating this painting in clothing demands soft fabrics and earth tones.

I transposed this painting into my outfit with a beige and black-collared silk Ann Taylor blouse, loose-fitting black Ann Taylor trousers and navy blue brogues. The silk floats on the body just as the napkin in the center of the painting floats in seemingly mid-air.

Unlike Harlequin, this painting does not have extremely defined lines - rather, the objects interact. The use of similar neutral colors creates an ample scheme for inspired outfits. Like the cult-status Urban Decay Naked eye shadow palette, this painting is a canvas from which you can draw a minimalistic, flowing style.


If you have a piece of art in mind that you would like to recreate with clothing, the best things to draw from are the colors used, the definition between objects and the time period in which the work was produced.

If you can't get over a portrait of a Tudor queen, recreate her style with embroidered dresses, heavily constructed skirts and what would today be considered costume jewelry. Browse thrift and vintage shops to find pieces that recall the fashion of the past.

Recreating abstract, avant-garde art through color can be simultaneously easy and difficult. Working with only one or two colors gives you tons of options - as long you wear those colors, you're on the right track. But what style should you choose? Should the way you put the clothing pieces together be just as abstract as the work itself?

It's up to you.

Or you can just wear a classic blouse and colored jeans and be Mark Rothko's 1956 piece, Orange and Yellow.

With works like Jackson Pollock's Convergence, produced in 1952 and currently not on display at the Albright Knox, you'd want to choose graphic prints. Today's trends in dresses have created a wealth of graphically stunning options as designers use digital art on fabric. All you need is the dress and a pair of colored tights, and you're a walking work of art.

Whether you're going to an art gallery this weekend, or just having some drinks with friends, use what inspires you in everyday life as you get dressed.

Inspiration is really all around you; it's in everything you love. If you love art, don't just hang it on your walls.

Hang it on your body.

email: emma.janicki@ubspectrum.com