inspiration or imitation?

This fabulous tribute to Liesl was written by our long-time contributor, Shelley.

Over the years that I’ve been reading the Oliver + S blog and following Liesl + Co. on social media, I’ve often been inspired by a style, or a particular fabric, or even just a new way of wearing something I might already have.

And on a few occasions, I’ve just thought that what I want is That. Exact. Outfit.

So here I am to explore that line between where imitation is a sincere form of flattery and where it’s maybe a bit weird! Tell me it’s not just me… I mean, we all want to be a bit more Liesl, don’t we?*

I’ve been wanting a black Cinema Dress since the pattern was first released in 2014. Every now and again I see a photo of Liesl strolling somewhere lovely in her black linen Cinema Dress and I’m reminded of how much I covet that outfit. Finally, I made myself one and I love it. Since I dropped all pretense of being cool at the start of this blog post I’m also going to confess that I bought these boots after seeing a similar pair that Liesl was wearing one time. Needless to say, I love them too.

Recently I was inspired to straight out copy Liesl again when she made a Classic Shirt dress with popover placket. I was also very taken with the double welt pockets that she added to a different Classic Shirt. When I found this two-sided double gauze I thought I’d combine the two ideas into one garment.

Maybe I can blame the shiftiness of cotton double gauze, but my first attempt here at double welt pockets isn’t the neatest. Which brings us full circle to the complete version of the Oscar Wilde quote I alluded to earlier: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”

To try and get a bit closer to the “greatness” I aspire to, I’ve had another go at double welt pockets and have a tutorial to share with you soon.

Now that I’ve gone first and possibly embarrassed myself more than I need to, it’s confession time. Have you ever taken inspiration that little bit further and recreated something for yourself? Do tell …

*This blog post was concocted by me, approved and edited by Masha, and possibly snuck past Liesl without her knowledge …


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  1. Ha ha, you got me back by inserting that side by side photo. Dang, that’s a “who wore it better” that I’m never going to win!

  2. Ann

    Everything looks great, and now I am finding myself wanting a black Cinema dress, too!

  3. Ha ha, I love it! Thanks for this, which arrived just when I needed a little boost in my self esteem… Seriously, that’s very sweet of you. And you really do look great. xoxoxo

  4. Rebecca

    Shelley, I too must confess that I have often swooned over Liesl’s style many times. I have used her style as inspiration for my own sewing projects and how I view my own wardrobe. I simply adore this post and it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one.

  5. Dyann

    Haha! I love this post. I confess I’m guilty of planning pieces of my wardrobe around Liesl’s style. Your dresses look great.

  6. Your post is hilariously honest. You sure got me where I live, I so often wonder if I am just outright copying someone’s creation or has the creator simply inspired me. I love your Cinema dress and will be wearing a black linen one of my own very soon ;-))

  7. Carol in Denver

    Even when I am inspired by another, as I seek to emulate it — during the process — some new thing emerges. Sometimes that “new thing” is apparent only to my own eyes.

  8. Nancy

    I love the Black Cinema Dress and would love to have the pattern. Is it available?

    1. Yes, you can get the pattern here.

  9. Kathy Eastwood

    I love it all, especially the part about sneaking it past Liesl. You look *great*, Masha. Not many of us can come that close to Liesl! Great post.

    1. Thanks Kathy, but the credit for this post goes to Shelley!

      1. Kathy Eastwood

        Oh dear. Ummm….Shelley, you look great! Apologies.

  10. Lisa

    I love this post. I also admire and find inspiration in Liesl’s style even though we have very different body types and not everything that looks great on her looks great on me. But I have to admit to always admiring your style Shelley, and copying some of your O&S kids’ makes because they’re so stylish! Loads of inspiration in this community and my spring dress is going to be a black linen cinema dress. I have the pattern, as yet unmade and the linen, waiting around forever… you’ve made it the time to get them together 🙂

    1. Thanks Lisa, that’s lovely to hear. I’ve lost hours of my life in the Oliver + S kid’s Flickr pool “gathering” inspiration

  11. Erica

    This post is so great! I always love seeing what Shelley is sewing and her sense of humour!

  12. SShaw

    I have definitely attempted to recreate pieces I’ve seen in my sewing projects. Lovely work you’ve done here. I really like both of these dress styles. I’d love to see what the Classic Shirtdress with Popover Placket looks like without the tie belt. If anyone knows where to find a photo of it without the belt, please direct me!

    1. Hi, I’ve worn this one without the belt too and it is still shapely enough to look nice (in my opinion!). I forgot to take any beltless pictures for my own blog, but if I do take one I’ll be sure to put it on Instagram with the hashtag #lieslandcoclassicshirt

      1. SShaw

        Thanks. There’s a pic in the original post where Liesl uses the belt as a bowtie so I can kind of see it, but a full-length photo so that you can see how it falls would be great. I will keep an eye on your insta account.

  13. Ooh! I think we soon might have a community of women wearing the black cinema dress. Imitation is definitely the highest form of flattery! Wee done Shelley!

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