What is "arty"?

When I initially filled out my profile here, I chose fashion personas of Artistic Eclectic and Bohemian Hippie. It's taken me years of evolution, but I do think of myself as an artist, and I think that's part of what drew me to that first persona. But I don't think I know it really means, in terms of style, still. 

I've emphasized the Bohemian side since I've been here, since I know what that means, and since it doesn't make me feel like a poser. 

Amiable asked me today if the hard edge, toughness, I seek could actually be arty-ness. And I think it's certainly possible. 

What do you think? What is arty / artistic eclectic? And does it fit me, or am I fooling myself?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Elly replied 7 years ago

    Hmmm . . . this is a hard one. I think that there are a lot of ways to express an artistic leaning or a creative side. There are different ways to dress with an artistic bent.

    Suz, in particular, I think has struggled with this in the past. When she first came to YLF she wanted to look "artsy" but slowly figured out that what she associated with that didn't actually suit her body, sense of style, or how she wanted to feel. She certainly is a creative and her combinations of pieces often have great lines or other visual or add an almost architectural element to her looks, which I think clearly belays her creative side.

    Diana and Jenn, also both creatives, tend to lean toward a mix of toughness/classics/and boho in a handmade/craftsman renewal sort of way. They both look fab, but completely different than Suz.

    All three women are artists in their own right and look "artistic".

    Personally, this side of me comes out in my gallery capsules -- my pieces are almost exclusively black and rely heavily on the elements of art to make them interesting-- texture, line, drape, shape.  I do add handmade jewelry sometimes. There are several forum members that are "architectural elements" dressers and look highly creative, no matter their professions. Greyscale would be a prime example.

    Then there are forum members who are edgy, but not "arty" -- Alaskagirl and Ceit are prime examples. Doesn't mean they aren't creative, though.

    Personally, I feel like you don't have enough clothes that are "your style" to get a good feeling of where you want to end up -- you are still at the highly experimental stage where you are buying items and shopping your closet to complete outfits with the priority first on completing outfits that are wearable and secondarily on style-- totally makes sense, esp. with your other goals regarding weight loss). I could see you going with simple basics in flattering colors to create a blank canvas or a slightly masculine edge and accessorizing with your handi-work (that reads mostly feminine) and "tough" accessories, like rough and tumble boots, cuffs, etc. This version would pair some of your handknits with leather skirts, with jeans with zippers, with combat boots. An army jacket paired with a handknit cowl and jeans. I could also see you enjoying a more maximal style and embracing truly boho looks-- like your sari skirts with colorful tanks and handknit shrugs. Of course, you could also pair the sari skirts with asymetrical front architectural tops and a pair of sandals like Viva's Freebirds.

  • amiable replied 7 years ago

    Love what Elly said.

    And I'd add Janet as an "arty" inspiration.  And Rabbit too.

  • abc replied 7 years ago

    Wow, Elly really summed it up well.

  • Cerinda replied 7 years ago

    What Elly said.  Just adding that I equate arty with one of a kind, and clearly your knits hit that marker.  The juxtapositions she suggests are brilliant:  what does your closet say?

  • UmmLila replied 7 years ago

    One person's arty Frida Kahlo might be someone else's arty Waldorf school mom. That's by way of saying that I think it's better to consider pieces or looks that you like and would work for you, and suit you, and apply words to them later.

  • Sara L. replied 7 years ago

    Arty is a word I have problems with.  I live in New Mexico and "arty" brings to mind Santa Fe  and Taos artists - think bright colors, broomstick skirts, lots of silver and turquoise jewelry, patchouli and jingling.  However, this is not the impression other people on the forum have when the word "arty" comes up.

  • Jenn replied 7 years ago

    Elly said it really well (and thanks for the shout-out). I have multiple visions of arty in my head, starting with Frida Kahlo, running through Zooey Deschanel, and ending with Lady Gaga. It can go a lot of different directions.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Elly said it so well. And thanks for the shout out. I am flattered. 

    "Arty" dressers come in many types. Firecracker's another great example. Her clothes themselves are works of art! 

    Then again, so are Diane's -- and I wouldn't exactly call hers an "arty" style. Interesting, no? Maybe leaning toward arty, but not full blown. 

    I don't actually consider myself arty in my style at all these days. For the moment, I'm pretty much a classics-with-trends type of dresser. I would like to evolve this to a signature style but haven't quite figured out how. 

  • rachylou replied 7 years ago

    I feel the arty/artsy look means craftsy. As in Arts and Crafts. Handwork. Organic designs. It can be more or less refined. But it excludes the refined ornate end of things, like Faberge eggs.

  • kerlyn replied 7 years ago

    Interesting discussion.  I definitely think your hand-knits work beautifully for an artsy look.  I also tend to think of a piece or two of bold jewelry (all the better if it's handcrafted).  I think artsy styles are good at taking a fairly simple outfit and adding a couple unique touches...whether a pretty scarf, some dramatic dangly earrings, a couple bold rings.  I think often there's an inherent complexity to an artsy style, little details that make it unique and interesting. 

    I like to think that I have an artsy side to my persona, along with some boho, some sporty, and now increasingly a bit more streamlined!

    I think artsy is a great direction for you to continue exploring.  

  • Angie replied 7 years ago

    I'll sum it up by people's styles - all quite different to each other. 

    Arty dressers on the forum: Firecracker, Diana, Sarah the White, Greenglove, Approprio, Rachylou, 

    Arty-Lite dressers on this forum: Diane, Cerinda, Janet, Shevia, Joy, Aida, Debs from Oz.

  • unfrumped replied 7 years ago

    Oh yay, I like Angie's examples; I was going to shout out Firecracker also .

    I think some people think of it as also Boho, but I don't see it that way, especially because I think Arty can be very severe and angular, not floaty-jingly. I think it does require unique pieces--so hand-sewn, or unique  jewelry, custom, and I also think Avant-Garde pieces (so of course those could be mass-produced, but somewhat unusual. And some drama, but I think it can be "small drama".

    But I like UmmLila's approach--collect and identify all the things you love (photos thereof) and don't say, I'm arty so I should wear this.
    I do think style descriptors can be useful but you want to avoid being boxed in before it's helpful.

  • Jaime replied 7 years ago

    Thanks Angie! As I ponder what it means I can't help but be super flattered to be included in such fab company.

    I do have a first reaction to associate arty as a style descriptor with something like what Sara and Rachy said, but I definitely see the architectural and abstract dress of some of the examples as artistic. Maybe I am confusing arty with artsy as a descriptor. I am going to think about this a bit and look at some pictures. 

  • Janet replied 7 years ago

    Very interesting interpretations. And I also appreciate the shout-out, and I'm honored to be an example of "Arty-Lite" as Angie calls it. 

    The word "arty" at first glance conjures up some similar associations for me as it does for Sara. And I agree with UmmLila too that the word really means very different things to different people. 

    I never think of the word "arty" when considering my style. I do like pieces that are unusual, unconventional, architectural, one-of-a-kind, or have some kind of a twist. But I don't generally wear an outfit full of those pieces -- I like to temper one (or maybe two) "arty" things with modern classics. Otherwise I feel like I'm wearing a costume. I usually like a certain amount of polish, sophistication, or simplicity to temper and ground anything unconventional or edgy in an outfit. 

    But anyway, I love the idea of collecting looks and styles that appeal to you, and then seeing what those have in common and where the themes are. I think "arty" can come in to play not only in the form of individual pieces, but also how those individual pieces are put together in outfits. Some people have "arty" color combinations even though their silhouettes are more classic -- MsMary comes to mind. 

  • Joy replied 7 years ago

    Thank you, Angie. I do aspire to arty but not boho, but have not figured it out yet. Much of what I'd like to wear wears me instead. Word Lily, have you seen the movie "Iris" about Iris Apfel? You may find aspects of her style inspiring. Her outfits are works of art.

  • Deborah replied 7 years ago

    Surprised to see my name mentioned but I think I can deal with arty-lite:) I have certain associations with the word 'arty' when it comes to style and fashion.  Arty, in it's extreme, (to me) are some of the ladies featured on Advanced Style.  Colourful, outrageous, almost costume like.  I do tend to associate arty also with that of someone who enjoys the arts and crafts and that is reflected in how they dress.  I probably also connect boho and arty a little.  But then there is the 'arty' look I would associate with someone who work in a gallery, it's creative, a little edgy and alternate.  I suppose it's all in our interpretation?

  • Cerinda replied 7 years ago

    Thanks, Angie,  I'm honored to be included in the Arty-Lite crowd.  

  • lyn67 replied 7 years ago

    For me artsy means what Debs last saidt:"I would associate (it) with someone who work in a gallery, it's creative, a little edgy and alternate".

  • Word Lily replied 7 years ago

    Thanks for all the replies, everyone! I got knocked down by a massive headache after posting, and it was all I could do to read them all. Composing answers wasn't in the cards. I'm still reading and musing, though; lots of food for thought!

  • rachylou replied 7 years ago

    Ye-es... That's true, isn't it? I'm an arty dresser. God forbid what would happen if I tried to do it on purpose, tho. A lot of cat cloisonné earrings would probably happen...

  • Isabel replied 7 years ago

    I am NOT an "arty" expert. But the first thing that popped into my mind was greenglove. I find Aida party also.

  • Beth Ann replied 7 years ago

    Greets, Word Lily!  Just wanted to pop on and say that style rubrics and personas are meant to be tools to help us have fun with fashion and be more satisfied with the way we feel and present ourselves to others each day.  If "arty"  doesn't immediately translate to you, is there another term that might better convey what you were trying to get at in your YLF profile?  Perhaps you like to be an individualist -- not restricted to one style or to predictable style norms?

    I've never found a persona that I completely resonate with, but I like to use style rubrics and vary them often.

  • replied 7 years ago

    Is it you who has the fun color scheme on your house? And I think you suggested the teal/mustard combo to Jenn?
    I think you might be an artist who likes to work with color, is that fair? If so, you could be arty by doing more color-on-colour in your wardrobe. So instead of black docs, maybe do burgundy or green or blue... Maybe a bright mustard bag with a teal shawl. That type of thing?
    Just some thoughts...i may be way off base.

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