Blissful Belle

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Outrageous Fashions For The Practical Belle

Many delightfully outrageous styles are simply unrealistic for most of us. Runway models often sport creations that look downright hazardous, and the streets of Japan are crowded with kids in high-priced storybook looks. Although some brave (and wealthy) fashion-lovers will attempt eccentric styles in real life, the only thing stopping the rest of us from being inspired by them is the limits of our own imagination. Discover how to transform wild fashion into wearable styles.

Runway Fashions

Haute couture is hardly the most accessible of fashions. These fantastical creations are closer to visual art than clothing. Beyond the outlandish dresses, high-flying headpieces and outfits that leave nothing to the imagination, the price of haute couture makes these artful ensembles simply unattainable to all but the very wealthiest. Nonetheless, fashion lovers tune eagerly in to runway shows again and again to witness what the biggest minds of couture have conjured up this season. And for good reason: runway fashions influence high street style, with retailers, magazines and fashionistas alike absorbing the underlying trends and presenting them in a more conventional format.

Givenchy Spring 2011 collection

Classic Lolita

From the streets of Japan hails the relatively obscure yet highly influential style known as lolita fashion. Despite the suggestive name, girls who follow this fashion opt for demure, sweet ensembles with knee-length or longer skirts, button-up blouses that always cover shoulders, and natural make-up. For these girls, lace and frills reign supreme. Lolita fashion comes in many varieties, but we now turn for inspiration to classic lolita, the epitome of femininity with its delicate lace, subtle pastels and elegant vintage-inspired coats. Lovers of extravagant, romantic styles with their hearts somewhere in the 18th century beware: Lolita fashion of all stripes comes at a steep price, and with its billowing shapes is hardly practical for everyday situations. But those inspired by classic lolita can find pieces that please both their inner romantic and their wallet.

Victorian Maiden

If you pine for the glamour of extravagant fashion but aren’t quite ready to sport a giant samurai helmet on your head to match your semi-transparent swan dress or knock down store displays with your enormous petticoat, here are a few tips to bring the fashion of your fantasies down to earth.


The simplicity of black and white, runway style. Chanel Fall 2009 collection

Dior delights in color. Fall/Winter 2010-2011

Perfect, pale pastels by Japanese clothing store Mary Magdalene. 

The simplest way to imitate an inaccessible style is to keep an eye out for key colors. Whether you seek Chanel elegance in black and white, vibrant peacock colors by Christian Dior, or the soft pastel palette of classic lolita, color is not only one of the first things we notice in an outfit, but also the easiest to emulate.

A simple, practical, work-friendly outfit by Express. There is no combination like black and white if your goal is effortless elegance.

This floral dress by Forever 21 brings a splash of color to a practical belle’s life. Echoing the sensational colors of the Dior piece, this dress is sunny and simply adorable – not to mention affordable at $22.90.

This skirt by Talbots comes in two pastel shades: sage and prairie rose. The frills and pastels of classic lolita in a down-to-earth, below-the-knee skirt.


The bell-shaped silhouette typical to lolita fashion. Innocent World

Floor-length skirt, long sleeves and sheer fabrics from Valentino’s spring 2011 collection.

Beyond color, a practical style that incorporates high-end fashions adapts the lines and silhouettes in a more manageable format. It is precisely the unique shapes of outrageous fashions that first attract many admirers. And paying attention to shape can help the practical fashionista to adapt her favorite impractical styles.

This tulle-lined color block dress by Charlotte Russe features a more subtle bell-shape in an everyday rendition of the classic lolita silhouette. Flared, feminine dresses like this one are well-loved by many stores, including Anthropologie, the go-to source for lovers of all things classically girly.

For those who prefer taking their cue from Valentino, long dresses are all the rage, like this one from Urban Outfitters. Maxi skirts are in right now, with cutting-edge styles that challenge the dusty old image of the maxi. For more fabulous skirts, check out Blissful Belle’s best maxi skirts for the summer.


A dream in lace. Chanel Spring 2009 collection

Armani Privé shines on with dramatic metallics in their Summer 2011 collection.

Get one step closer to the style of your wildest dreams by selecting fabrics that suit your fancy. Even if the exact fabric used by designers isn’t available, you can often find something close enough make your heart flutter.

Lace is one of the most enduring staples of lolita fashion, and fashion houses love it too. Dress up your outfit with lace pieces for instant charm, like this Pins and Needles bow-back lace top from Urban Outfitters.

If high gloss is what you’re after, you don’t need to be able afford Armani to indulge your taste. Metallic fabrics, like the one used for this ruched metallic dress by Forever 21, are great for a touch of flirtatious drama.

Even if the style of your dreams is out of reach, you can enjoy the individual elements that make it so very alluring. Become inspired by the latest runway show or the newest style icon, then scour clothing stores and websites with an eye on your favorite fashion. With any luck, you’ll be able to find practical pieces with the colors, shapes or fabrics of high-end styles anywhere you go, at great prices. And even if you don’t find yourself in a balloon of glittery fabric or knee-high ruffle socks on a daily basis, you can pick and choose influences that best suit your lifestyle and taste, whether it be the glitter or the ruffles that you adore. Elaborate styles can be expensive, but dreaming is free –and individuality can be affordable!


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