How To Create A Historically Inspired Modern Day Wardrobe

You know that when it comes to fashion and style, I’m all about drawing inspiration from the past. I’m obsessed with the past, as you can tell by my various historically inspired photographs on instagram (ain’t gonna find nobody who does it like me). So naturally my wardrobe and personal style is going to reflect that love – that unwavering stream on inspiration that comes from reading too many books, watching too many historical movies, and dreaming of too many past adventures.

But I think that everyone fills their wardrobe with some sort of historical aspect, whether they realize it or not. And I’m not talking about filling your closet with costumes either – but rather certain elements, pieces, fabrics, and textures that speak to you from the past.

How To Create A Historically Inspired Modern Day Wardrobe | The Petite Bijou

The First Thing You Need To Know

You gather inspiration for your style everywhere. From your environment, people around you, celebrities, places, and other creative pursuits. Maybe you really haven’t thought of it that much, but even the clothes you see on the runway (which styles you then buy later on) are all inspired by history.

This year we saw a lot of 80’s and 70’s inspired runway shows- trends that soon made their way into department stores and boutiques. But modern eras aren’t the only ones that can still inspire your style. What if you’re really drawn to Victorian era styles? Lace, pearls, large skirts. Or maybe you like the 20’s with straight tea gowns, headbands, and costume jewelry. You can even draw inspiration from the ancient Greeks: toga’s, rich silks, and gold jewelry.

And do you know what’s wonderful about creating a historically inspired modern day wardrobe? You get to be completely you with influences from your favorite parts of time and space in history. You can dream. imagine, and play any character you want while still looking super modern and stylish! So how do you create a historically inspired modern day wardrobe? Keep reading to find out.

1. Get Inspired

Think back to your favorite books, movies, and styles. Why are you attracted to them? What elements speak to you from the past? It might sound silly to be introspective about your own personal style, but it will help you narrow down where you draw inspiration from.

When creating a wardrobe, think about what era’s of history you feel the most attracted to.

Personally my favorites are:

Victorian Age/Steampunk 

Medieval & Tudor  (I’ll explain)

The Roaring 20’s

The 40’s & 50’s 


How To Create A Historically Inspired Modern Day Wardrobe | The Petite Bijou


2. Find Elements & Aspects

So now that you’ve listed out your favorite eras, think about what you are attracted to when you envision these historical eras in your head. A quick exercise is just to close your eyes and imagine a character in a story and you’re making up their style (maybe you are a custom director for a new historical movie!) What are they wearing in terms of their style, accessories, and mannerisms? Can you see these same aspects on you? Do you feel happy about it? This exercise will help guide you in what pieces you will want to get when creating your wardrobe.

For example:

Victorian/Steampunk: For a Victorian look I actually think of the late Victorian period (almost Edwardian but not quite). I think of long white dresses, feathers and plums in hats, pearls, and fancy boots. Can you see where I’ve gotten inspiration from in my latest outfit? I also love the Gothic neo-victorian aspects of the steampunk movement: brass, gears, and all black!

Medieval & Tudor: I long medieval overcoats (the modern day sleeveless trench coats!). I also love the dainty jewels, intricate layers, and ornate patterns on fabric.

The Roaring 20’s: I am personally attracted to tea gowns, slim dresses and shapes, t-strap heels, costume jewelry, and art deco patterns.

The 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s: The versatility and patterns of clothes during this time really click with me. I think they are simple and functional. I think of leather jackets with patchwork, cat eye sunglasses, red lips, and classic cut bangs.


How To Create A Historically Inspired Modern Day Wardrobe | The Petite Bijou


3. Start Your Collection

You can start incorporating these historical aspects into your wardrobe. Start by figuring out what aspects will go with what era. Maybe you like the look of 60’s accessories rather than the clothes. Or maybe you are actually attracted to a certain pattern. Keep an eye out for it!

So now you’ll know to look for modern designs or vintage accessories to add to your wardrobe. See what you already have in your closet and work from there.

You don’t have to write this down in any way or form, but you can definitely imagine your inspiration the next time you go shopping!

Some of the best places to get vintage or historically inspired clothing:

ModclothUnique VintageGentleman’s Emporium (lots of ladies clothes and accessories)| Victorian Trading Company


4. Mix In The Modern

The key to balancing a historically inspired but modern day wardrobe is being able to incorporate those historical styles with a modern twist. You absolutely don’t have to get vintage or antique pieces. You don’t even need to get the same styles! You can still incorporate historical aspects into your wardrobe. How? By thinking about shape and texture.

An easy 20’s historical modern mix: tweed jackets a la Chanel and rich playboy gentleman of that time. You can easily achieve this look by getting a modern tweed jacket and pairing it with black skinny pants, a plain and preppy shirt like this one, and cute oxfords like these. This is still a feminine, historical but modern look!

Also think about how you’ll incorporate accessories into your wardrobe. Stay on trends but add in some cute custom jewelry for a vintage look.


How To Create A Historically Inspired Modern Day Wardrobe | The Petite Bijou


5. Be Creative & Be Passionate

I love going into character, matching the place I’ll be going, and telling a story with what I wear. My story is that of my personal style, personal preferences, and admiration for the past. Call me a dramatist, but I think it’s so much fun creating a character with style.

My wardrobe is undeniably me and I am not afraid to show my passion for history. Maybe you are also a bit of a history buff or maybe you love a certain historical era. Go for it! Be unapologetically you, even if others don’t get it. I think this mindset really sets people apart from one another and I can always tell when other style bloggers are truly inspired by their own unique style and not just wearing the next big thing.

And you’ll never know…the next big thing could be a blast from the past.


How To Create A Historically Inspired Modern Day Wardrobe | The Petite Bijou

Dress: Shop Akira White Lace Dress (sold out) similar here and a cute victorian version here | Oxfords | Sunglasses: Top Shop | Pearls | Red Lipstick – Marc Jacobs

Shop My Look

What do you think about creating a historically inspired modern day wardrobe? Let me know were you take your inspiration from in the comments below! 

xo Mariam

Whether you realize it or not, your style is inspired by the past. So why not take that modern outfit you just bought and bring a little of your favorite history lesson into it? Follow these easy and fun steps to create a style that is uniquely yours and inspired by the past! Click through to the post and find out how to transform your fashion choices and still be super trendy!



Behind The Blog

The Petite Bijou is an online destination featuring wholesome yet sophisticated living and styling tips for women. The site is run by survivor, lifestyle influencer, and writer Mariam, who also runs The Bijou Show, a self help podcast.

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Leave a Comment


  1. Ashley wrote:

    I just adore the idea of wearing styles inspired by historical fashions! History really is the best source of inspiration (not to mention the best fabrics and craftsmanship!).

    You look gorgeous in this Akira dress!


    Ashley || Sed Bona

    Posted 6.7.16 Reply
  2. So pretty!

    Posted 6.6.16 Reply
  3. So, so pretty! I love the details on the bottom of the dress!

    Posted 6.6.16 Reply
  4. Brittany wrote:

    Love this so much. I am also a lover of the roaring 20’s. In fact as I am planning my wedding is is Great Gatsby themed and I cannot wait to see it all come to life!


    Brittany || The Everyday B.

    Posted 6.6.16 Reply
  5. This is such a cute look and I love all of those eras you mentioned. That dress is darling and it looks wonderful on you. I love the Victorian and 20s era – such an amazing time for fashion!!

    Posted 6.6.16 Reply
  6. Emily wrote:

    Love this post and this dress!! I love to take inspiration from the books I read- I find myself wanting be like the characters, and even dressing like I think they would! I also love checking Modcloth out for cute vintage inspired clothing. 🙂

    Posted 6.5.16 Reply
  7. Ivana J wrote:

    Love the story behind the creation of this look, it is amazing and really represents historical era . Love the photos ixoxo

    Posted 6.5.16 Reply
  8. What a cool post and so unique to anything I’ve read on blogs! You look amazing & I love this yellow dress xx Adaleta Avdic

    Posted 6.4.16 Reply
  9. rebecca wrote:

    Love the dress you’re wearing. So effortless and modern looking but not a bit like a costume.

    Posted 6.4.16 Reply
  10. helena wrote:

    I love your photos! After I leave this comment I’m going to check out your instagram account. And then I’m going to try to find some shoes like yours.

    Posted 6.4.16 Reply
  11. How fun!? I am definitely overdue for a wardrobe overhaul and your post has definitely inspired me to use my love and passion for vintage designs in my next shopping trip. 🙂 Discovered you via the Grow Your Blog group. Looking forward to more posts from you!

    Posted 6.4.16 Reply
  12. Mia wrote:

    First off, these photos are beautiful! Second, I am in love with your outfit! You have great style, and these are some awesome tips. 🙂

    Posted 6.4.16 Reply
  13. I am soooo not into fashion (I’m wearing ripped sweats and a Santa T-shirt as I’m typing this) but I loved reading this post and the idea behind it. You got style, girl – and your pictures are absolutely beautiful. So glad I found your site! 🙂

    Posted 6.4.16 Reply
  14. candy wrote:

    Love this style and love your dress. You wear it well.

    Posted 6.4.16 Reply
  15. Heather wrote:

    This is lovely Miriam! I adore this look on you, and such great tips! There are a couple of “historically” inspired looks I have been tempted to try, but I have hesitated due to fear of looking “costumey” or not authentic with respect to my personal style! Your tips are great and you always look amazing – such a great example and inspiration!

    Posted 6.4.16 Reply
  16. Alison wrote:

    I love your outfit. I used to wear a lot of victorian style clothing when I was younger, now I’m more of a mom-jeans and t-shirt kinda girl!

    Posted 6.4.16 Reply
  17. I have a friend who really does well with mixing vintage 70s looks into her modern wardrobe. These are great tips

    Posted 6.3.16 Reply
  18. I love this! I am the biggest Jane Austen fan in the world, and while I don’t dress like I’m from that era, I definitely decorate my home in a very romantic, soft sort of way. My style is much more inspired by the 70’s, but I love that era for movies.

    Posted 6.3.16 Reply
  19. You’re such an old soul. I love it.



    Posted 6.3.16 Reply
  20. serena wrote:

    Great tips – and I LOVE your shoes!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Posted 6.3.16 Reply
  21. I love this idea and the concept of this post. It’s so authentically you which is the very best part! It’s so amazing how trends go in and out of style, and keeping it vintage yet modern at the same time is so key! I love it, you look lovely.

    Posted 6.3.16 Reply
  22. What a fun post! You look gorgeous. I love the 20’s I wish I had more clothes from then! Xo

    Posted 6.3.16 Reply
  23. Shannon wrote:

    You pull off this looks so perfectly which I think very few people can! Historic inspired looks are always so pretty and have a bit of a classic vibe. Great tips on building a wardrobe!

    Clothes & Quotes

    Posted 6.3.16 Reply
  24. KatWalkSF wrote:

    You are too talented! Love this!


    Posted 6.3.16 Reply
  25. Mandi wrote:

    I absolutely love the angle you took with this post. And I love how to explained where to find inspiration for the elements in your wardrobe.

    Posted 6.3.16 Reply
  26. You look adorable! This is great! Thank you!

    Posted 6.3.16 Reply
  27. Jessica wrote:

    I’ve always gravitated towards more costumey items of clothing, but never realized how much until I read this post. Most of the time I’m in my mom uniform of yoga pants and a t-shirt or tank top, but when I actually get to wear what I want it’s usually inspired by Victorian/Steampunk (I even had a very over the top steampunk wedding – most of the groomsmen’s outfits came from Gentleman’s Emporium), the ’20’s, 40’s, and 50’s. I used to think I needed to just pick one aesthetic and stick with it, but that would be so boring!!! Thanks for all the great styling tips – I’m definitely going to start looking at my wardrobe a bit differently now.

    Posted 6.3.16 Reply
  28. Cassandra wrote:

    What a fabulous post! I used to do this so much and try to make my modern wardrobe influenced by other times but I haven’t done it much lately. You’ve inspired me!

    Posted 6.3.16 Reply
  29. Ashley wrote:

    What a great post!! I absolutely adore your style and photos so I really enjoyed these tips!!

    xo Ashley

    Posted 6.2.16 Reply
  30. Anna Baun wrote:

    You look absolutely gorgeous and timeless! I love the soft, feminine details! Beautiful, lady! Happy Thursday! XO

    Anna || A Lily Love Affair

    Posted 6.2.16 Reply
  31. Joanna wrote:

    So I am obsessed with the movie “Gone with the wind”, and always wish I could be back in that time just for the extreme style! Love:)

    Posted 6.2.16 Reply
  32. Sophia wrote:

    I love the dress and I love the pearls.

    Posted 6.2.16 Reply
  33. Betsy wrote:

    Great advice. Makes me look at outfits in a whole different light.

    Posted 6.2.16 Reply
  34. Tianna wrote:

    gorgeous! I love these ideas!

    Posted 6.2.16 Reply
  35. Christy wrote:

    I am style-challenged, thank you! I have some great ideas to move forward and incorporate my love of the 1940’s into my everyday!

    Posted 6.2.16 Reply
  36. KatyRose wrote:

    Such a creative post and I am loving that dress. It looks so perfect and breezy for the summertime. – Katy

    Posted 6.2.16 Reply
  37. Your dress is gorgeous! I’m a big fan of the 40s / 50s era, and you look beautiful!

    Posted 6.2.16 Reply
  38. You passion is so inspirational!! I completely respect how much thought you put into each outfit. I won’t even begin to compare myself to you, but I appreciate your intensity, I put similar time and energy into my thought process based more around environment vs time period/history. (Hence the name of my blog!). Such a great read!!


    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  39. Gail wrote:

    Such a great post Mariam. You truly are unique and I love how you draw inspiration from history. I love your dress and it’s a beautiful shade on you. Thank you for the tips. Xoxo

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  40. Rae wrote:

    This gives me a whole new take on “vintage shopping” and how it’s not necessarily someone’s cast-off junk. Now to figure out MY favorite historical period.

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  41. LOVE these photos of you! I absolutely adore how well you know your sense of style & own it in every outfit. Your inspiration tips are so perfect. I want to try incorporating some of your philosophies into my daily wardrobe right away!


    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  42. Edita wrote:

    Fantastic idea – love the historic inspiration!

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  43. Lauren wrote:

    Great tips and inspiration! I definitely see the inspiration coming through in your look here. I like what you said, that history is influencing our style whether we realize it or not. Many people thoughtlessly wear things without appreciating where they came from-I love how intentional you are about understanding the influences behind what you wear!
    I feel like many of your tips could also apply to home decorating-finding what era you like and pulling bits and pieces from them for a modern, curated look that is perfectly you! Great post and thanks for getting me thinking!


    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  44. What a great way to get a different kind of inspiration!

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  45. What a sweet idea! Almost my entire closet is basically straight out of 1955 🙂
    XO Amanda |

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  46. Liz wrote:

    This is such an interesting post! I love how you drew connections between our fashions now to what they were inspired by long ago!

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  47. Jessica W wrote:

    Such a great dress! And I love your suggestions. They are really thoughtful!
    xo Jessica

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  48. Jenn wrote:

    I so agree. I sure do love the vintage/modern look. I try for classic looks. I sure did love this post! Thanks for sharing.

    Posted 6.1.16 Reply
  49. Elise wrote:

    I love the look that you put together! You can never go wrong with vintage clothes.

    – Elise |

    Posted 5.31.16 Reply
  50. Jen Frick wrote:

    I adore this post so much, Mariam! Before I started reading your post, I kept thinking about how one of a kind you truly are and that there really are no other bloggers with a style quite like yours! You really have this amazing ability to take history and make it so relevant and fresh that I can’t help, but swoon over every single time 🙂 And although I won’t be able to replicate your amazing style, I do appreciate your tips so much! Number 5 really spoke to me, especially when you said “Be unapologetically you, even if others don’t get it.” That’s something I strive for and love when others have the same mindset! In the end, it doesn’t matter what others think as long as we feel beautiful and confident 🙂

    Jen |

    Posted 5.31.16 Reply