I was flipping through this book recently, and was struck by the way the author described "eclectic" style. She broke the book down into chapters, each featuring a different style: "Bohemian," "classic," etc. But, when she got to eclectic, she described it as being a combination of different styles.
Basically, you go through life, experimenting, changing your style every few years. Maybe you're a bit punk in high school, but by college you are more Bohemian, and after that you start to get into minimalism. Eventually, you have your own, unique, "eclectic" style comprised of all the best parts of each genre. You kept the leather jacket from your punk phase, and your favorite maxi skirt from your bohemian phase, and now you wear them both with a breton top from your minimalism phase. That's eclectic style!
Wow, I thought, that's such a good description of how personal style can evolve!
I have so many reference points for my own style, from designers to movies to characters in books! Sometimes I full-on embrace the character I'm feeling that day and dress 100% nautical or 100% grunge. But, more often than not, I combine a few seemingly contradictory references into one outfit.
Here are some of my favorite examples from past outfit posts.
Farmer meets Rockabilly
The rockabilly elements of this outfit (leather, nipped-in waist, saddle oxfords) are grounded by the country sensibility of a gingham button-down.
Heidi meets Western
The heidi braids are a nice contrast to the denim-on-denim look of this "Texas tuxedo."
Punk meets Romantic
This is a combination I wear a lot. I love to tone down a tiered dress with a leather jacket or dress up a band tee with a floral skirt. As opposites, these two styles work together in perfect, balanced harmony.
Military meets Garden Party
A casual, olive-green jacket makes a silky floral dress more appropriate for daytime. Add tights, and you've got a way to wear a summer dress in the colder months.
Casual meets Glamorous
Another great example of how contrasting elements can make an evening piece daytime appropriate: a white t-shirt is the perfect counterpoint to a sequin skirt.
Sporty meets High Fashion
What can I say? Sometimes, you get the urge to wear Versace to the tennis court. Versace for H&M, but still.
'20s meets '50s
Era mixing is a great way to keep vintage clothing from looking like a costume. Here, a '50s cardi gives shape to a fringed flapper dress.