ootd, style
Comments 17

All Choked Up

Finding inspiration.

And when does it border on copying?


The million dollar question, huh?  How does one become inspired?  True, pretty and creative things abound and, of course, you have the treasure trove of resources known as Tumbler and Pinterest as well as Instagram.  I myself oscillate between the latter two all the time.  On top of that, we also print options and style portals and more.  Resources are practically at the tip of our fingers.

But if you really want to get into the nitty gritty of things, such as what inspires whom, who inspires the other, let’s call it “inspiration hunting“, for lack of a better phrase, that’s when it takes on a different tone.  That’s when things become a smidge more serious.  And rightly so since this is one of the most constant topics of debate within the design and creative arts world.  The blogosphere included.

How, or rather, where does one even begin to draw the line between “inspiration” and “emulation” or “imitation” or “homage“?  Take for instance this post you’re reading right this moment.  It isn’t unique.  I doubt it’s the first time you’ve come across someone poring forth their thoughts on the matter, is it?  I’ll wager you might even already have covered this very same subject yourself.  I ask you, what is original anymore?  Or perhaps the better question to ask would be is originality even important?  I’d like to think so.  Life would be rather mundane otherwise.


Let’s get one thing straight.  In all truthfulness, I think imitation has its place.

Think about it.  “Repeat after me” is a viable method of teaching and learning.  It’s what we’ve been indoctrinated from the moment we started learning, and it’s what our children (and likely theirs too) are exposed to on a daily basis.  At its core, it’s a survivalist method of exploration, as in practice via the process of versioning.  So too in our field, art education teaches us to copy under the guise of perfecting the technique or mastering a move.

However, once we move onto professional terrain, this is when imitation gets dicey (naturally) and raises some debate (alongside eyebrows) over original ownership of ideas.  Say you see what someone else is doing, fawn over what an amazing idea it is, and then go away to produce your rendition of the content.  Does that mean the end results are yours and yours alone?  Or ought you credit the person who idea inspired yours?  And if you do acknowledge them, is it as “inspired by” or are you, horror of horrors, no more than a copycat? I honestly do not have an answer because I honestly am not sure.  What I do know with dead certainty is that this ambiguity can make things (read: our social media-driven world) not so fun because copying happens.  It really does.  Call it zeitgeist, call it coincidence, call it whatever you want but let’s be real.  It happens all the time.  Which annoys the hell out of me.


So, for what it’s worth, my two cents on “inspiration hunting“.


Pretty things are easy to find, and equally easy duplicate.  The operative word here being “easy“.  And what that ultimately translates into is an uninspiring end product.  An unoriginal (but admittedly fully functional) product.  Let me throw in some words from Zac Posen from his Project Runway days, “chic banal“.

No, pretty is not enough.  Look behind the pretty.  Question why, how that person came up with that idea?  Dissect it.  Mull it over.  Put it back together.  Rinse and repeat.  I promise, this will go a long way towards ensuring you don’t piggyback on someone else’s idea, but instead, appreciate the process they went through and allow it to inspire your own.  I present the idea that the practice of making observations and asking questions has the power to help you uncover the opportunities and needs that can lead to great creative work.


When they say curiosity goes hand-in-hand with creativity, this is exactly why.  For a creative person, inspiration-hunting is not so much an activity as it is a learned manner of thinking about everything around at all times.  This helps to find space for something new.  Wiggle room in the universe, if you will.  When I’m thinking of what to write next for the blog, I hunt around for a need, and then I try to find an interesting way to address that need through the written word.  In fact, 95% of what you find here was thought of with “need” as a catalyst.  Need is indeed inspiring.

And you know what else I find most inspiring?  The women I’ve met and formed bonds with in the world of blogging.  Which brings me to the other (equally) vital part of today’s post.  A special collaboration between friends (and child whom I worship as a style goddess in her own right), featuring that divine little accent piece known as the choker.

Eve (the world according to eve)

The World According To Eve

As I said, this woman-child is a trailblazer.  I don’t think there’s ever been a moment when I’ve questioned Eve’s sartorial choices but rather, often turn to her for opinions and tips.  It’s true.  She has inspired me so much in listening to my own voice and not paying heed to what the rest of the style world is saying dictating.  I suppose you could call her my muse.  And I suppose you could also surmise I covet her multi-wrap choker ever so much!!!

Shelbee (shelbee on the edge)

Shelbee On The Edge

In Shelbee, I’ve found not merely a kindred wordsmith but also someone unafraid to talk about the darker side of herself, even as fashion and style play integral parts in all her posts.  To delve into the emotional and the mental, topics which aren’t typically shared in a blog, and I love her for that.  And does not her outfit play up that contrast of light and dark?  Especially that choker with its goth-esque vibe?

Debbie (fashion fairy dust)

Fashion Fairy Dust

I don’t know how else to describe Debbie save that she inspires me on so many levels, I’ve stopped counting.  From her crisp, pragmatic yet optimistic outlook on life to her raw honesty and the ability to put herself under the microscope with each post.  I mean, I shan’t lie, I’m also immensely inspired by her wardrobe and her style aesthetics and her hair, wouldn’t you?  Especially when she looks as badass as she does right now with those chokers?

Lisa (the sequinist)

The Sequinit

Meet Lisa.  I don’t visit her blog as often as I should (but I will) yet she is never far from my mind.  The way she writes.  Presents her thoughts.  She is what I would call a very classy dame.  And I think that’s what I find most inspiring about her.  The elegance she exudes (and I don’t mean just from her outfits) is so contagious that I find myself aspiring to be quite as poised, I really do.  Even her choker is the most dainty, delicate piece ever.

Me (sheela writes)


And there’s me.  Enjoying my ménage à trois of chokers in a myriad of ways since variety is the spice of life.  Cough.  I don’t know if I inspire anyone but I do know that everything I think, write, wear, is a hodgepodge of inspiration culled from everyone in my life, and I thank you for that.

Concluding on the topic of inspiration, did I say too much?  I hope not.  After all, creativity is really problem solving.  It’s meant to be sticky and challenging and mind-bending.  No one is perfect and imitative mistakes happen, but as long as we recognise that it’s part of the journey of learning a skill or stretching a talent, I think that’s the most important thing.

Don’t you agree?

Love, Sheela

Finally made the transition to AV and am now on YouTube as well as Snapchat (sheela.goh), would adore your support through subscribing to my channel/adding my snaps. 

Pretty please?

p/s my photos are by Sofia Touassa

I link up here.


  1. stinedurfdl says

    This is why I love you my friend…not only for your insanely fabulous fashion sense, but for your way with the written word. Even if I don’t always comment, I do always visit. Because you make me think. Because your opinions have depth. Because my brain enjoys having something to mull over. This topic is no exception. I’m a very visual person and am always on the hunt for inspiration. No matter how much something may inspire me, whether it be words or the styling of an outfit, I always put my own spin on it. Otherwise what’s the fun in it? As a matter of fact I’ve been considering doing a post on this same general topic based on an event in my life earlier this summer. Perhaps now I will, but with my own spin of course!
    PS…Love this look so much. The shoes, the dress, the hat all of it. And of course the chokers…and you know I have the exact same chokers although mine are the lapis lazuli version.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. shelbeeontheedge1 says

    My brain is overflowing with so much I want to say in this comment section, Sheela, but I will try to be brief. I will most likely fail, but I will try.

    First, literal tears welled up in my eyes when I read your commentary on little ole me. Thank you so much. My admiration for you, your style, your eloquence, and your absolute gutsiness is overwhelming even to myself. I feel honored to just be considered a “blog that Sheela reads”!

    Second, I had to chuckle that you used the word “badass” in reference to Debbie and “class” in reference to Lisa! As I used the same exact words…but I also added “sass” in reference to the beautiful Eve…well, because I love adding a cute little rhyme every now and again! I suppose it is true that great minds think alike….which brings me to the third thing I want to say…

    Third, great minds really do think alike. While reading your post, I could not help but think of the social theory of collective consciousness or the collective mind. That in reality there really are only a limited amount of ideas in the creative realm. And while it may oftentimes appear as imitation, perhaps it is mostly different people discovering ideas individually and on their own but on the same timeline as another person. After all, are we not all connected in some way in this universe that transcends time and space? Maybe. So I believe that what makes us each unique and different from one another is the combination of our own individual ideas and traits. We are each a unique collection of different aspects of ourselves. And in that difference, we are all the same…unique collections of a mish-mash of stuff! So imitation, whether purposeful or inadvertent, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But I am a huge advocate of giving credit where credit is due!

    Thank you so much for including me in this fabulous collaboration. I was so honored and it was so much fun. And by the way, I would remiss if I did not tell you how extraordinarily gorgeous you are in this teal dress and your amazing choker. And of course, your very Sheela-esque footwear! Absolute perfection, my friend! You are always an inspiration.



  3. Choker?
    What choker????

    As for inspiration hunting…hmmm…
    I don’t see the point of that.
    As soon as one runs out of things to say, then it’s surely time to “sit down and shut up!!”??
    Maybe when a blog is truly your “job” (and the source of your income) the pressure to write could make people do some “hunting”.
    I hope that never happens to me.
    I will shut up then.

    Although, I am such a blether (a good Scottish word for someone who talks a lot without making much sense!!) that I might yak away for a good while yet!!

    A great post…. and did I mention those SHOOOOOOOZEEEEEEES?!!!!!! {send immediately to Scotland}

    Liked by 2 people

  4. robjodiefilogomo says

    But is there really any originality especially in fashion? Don’t we take our styles from another venue (menswear for example) or another decade? And our ideas stem from something—so not truly original?
    Inspiration can be more about making yourself grow outside what we’re comfortable with—or not!
    As for the chokers—love them. One reason is I can easily make a couple here at home with some ribbon, thread, shoelaces—you name it!
    And you with that dress? Wowza girl!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great chokers! And fabulous group of women!

    I think this is a tough topic. There are lots of blogs that show/write/etc. very similar things. And I don’t necessarily think people set out to “copy” but they do get ideas and sometimes what they do is very close to what they have seen somewhere else. I do think it should be about taking the inspiration and making it truly your own, and I’m sure that’s often the plan, but it doesn’t always end up that way I think.

    I know I’m influenced by reading/looking at blogs and now like things I didn’t like a year ago. Flared cropped pants come to mind… I don’t own any, but if I ever do, one could probably argue that I copied everyone… 🙂

    Andrea’s Wellness Notes


  6. Love this post. Many enjoy being influential, cutting edge, forward thinking at times, but we also acknowledge being influenced and finding inspiration in others. As they say imitation is the highest form of flattery. The color of your dress and heels is amazing, my favorite in fact.

    xx, Elise

    Liked by 1 person

  7. sequinist says

    This was a really fabulous post, so much thought provoking matter. It is indeed a fine line where inspiration stops and full on copying starts. I sometimes see someone who follows me on Social Media copying something really specific to me (like wearing sequins with a camouflage jacket, for instance) and at first it annoys me, because if I were to do that, I’d happily credit them and say that I was ‘inspired’ by them. It’s just good manners! Then, like Elise points out above, I decide to go with ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ since it is a more positive spin.

    Thank you for organising this Choker joint-post and asking me to participate. It was so cool seeing everyone’s take on it! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Goddesslily says

    Love that dress… if you ever tire of it.. i’ll take it off your hands!


  9. Great post and writing Sheela! There is a fine line between getting inspiration and being a copy cat which annoys me as well! If credit has been given, then ok, otherwise I find it very rude, tacky and unoriginal! Fashion speaking I love this look of yours so much, that dress with your hat and this choker is such an original and inspiring combo.
    Thank you as well for introducing us to these beautiful ladies, Lisa is one of my favourite bloggers that I have met in this wonderful hangout we have!
    Wish you a great weekend Sheela, and a really good fall season! ❤


  10. Jess says

    Im loving all of the looks, interesting takes on the chokers. Loving this blue wrap dress on you, the legs and those sexy shoes. They are a pine green right? All stylish ladies, I do remember a fondness I had for chokers in the 90s.
    thanks for linking up
    jess xx


  11. You look stunning Sheela. I was actually wondering today about how to create some content for the blog without seeming like the 100 + other bloggers that covered the same topic or content. Then again some of the BIG 100k pageview bloggers get their inspiration from teachers, coaches, bloggers as well and little is learned on their own strategies I am sure. It is fun to be inspired and resonate and teach what we have been taught, which is neat. Thanks for sharing friend.
    Rachel xo


  12. Catching up on some blog reading and much food for thought here. Lines do get blurred imitation, inspiration, replication. I never think it’s bad to try to capture an idea or vibe you’ve seen elsewhere (providing you credit which I always do if I’ve been directly inspired by someone), as long as you put your own stamp on it, you own it so then in it’s own way it becomes something slightly new – a new permutation. There are only so many ideas in the world and progress often comes from a little tweak here and there, from the steps of others whether that’s in art or science.



  13. stylecrone says

    Creativity arrives in many ways. Your choker and lovely wide brimmed hat paired with your wrap dress and the tassels on your shoes provides the rest of us with fantastic inspiration! Thanks for sharing with Hat Attack!


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