April 4, 2022

How to create a fashion moodboard for summer 2023 trends

Theren Moodley
Theren Moodley
A decade's worth of fashion experience across; product design, development, sourcing & logistics

It may only be March, but the time for planning summer outfits on your fashion moodboard is fast approaching.

Having just got back from New York Fashion 2023, we'll take you through the hottest trends for summer 2023 that we spotted.

As well as how to incorporate them and create a fashion moodboard.

In summary:

  • What is a fashion moodboard - A fashion moodboard is visual representation of photos, icons, fabrics swatches, color palettes, product examples and design sketches used in the inspiration process, that explain the design concept of a theme or collection
  • How to create a fashion moodboard - Our research shows this can be done online using a fashion moodboard maker or offline using a corkboard and crucially, is the start of the inspiration process for fashion designers
  • The top trends for summer 2023 - Y2K, cutouts and new world vibe themes will all still play a big part of 2023 summer trends that we saw last month in New York
  • Sources of inspiration - Designers can head to sites such as; Pinterest, Gem, Tagwalk, and Unsplash to find content for their fashion moodboard, which is what we did to build the fashion moodboard examples below

Me & Emilie at NYFW - Seems like bucket hats will remain hot for summer 23
Me and Emilie at NYFW - Bucket hats are still hot for summer 2023

Read on for more in-depth content on the process.

👚 What is a fashion mood board?

A fashion moodboard is visual representation of photos, icons, fabrics swatches, color palettes, product examples and design sketches used in the inspiration process, that explain the design concept of a theme or collection.

At least this is what over 500 designer interviews and 10 years in the fashion industry has taught us.

And this inspiration board is key component in fashion creation.

Traditionally creating fashion moodboards took the form of a physical board in the office, filled with magazine cutouts, fabric swatches, photos and newspaper clippings, used to set the aesthetic of a brand's project.

For brands and designers the moodboard represents the first stage of inspiration in the design process.

A place to collect their ideas, look for themes, and finally start to join those ideas and patterns on their fashion moodboard, into what will eventually become a new collection.

The main function of a fashion moodboard is to focus the fashion designer’s mind on the aesthetic, style and direction, while also relaying the colour influences.

Read more about our experience with moodboards, as well as our time fashion moodboarding in Emilie's blog on why we started Make the Dot.

Fashion moodboards importance from 10years worth of insights?

In our decade long experience working with fashion brands of all sizes, we've seen the fashion moodboard grow in importance and play a number of roles across different departments.

Fashion design

The fashion moodboard is a canvas and workspace to collect ideas and inspiration and turn them into concepts and themes

Product development

That content, design sketches, color palettes and swatches can now be used to create an actual mockup of a fashion style


Bill of material, point of measure, costing and other product sourcing requirements can be linked further down the value chain


Style guides, brand guides and marketing assets are all then created using the content and themes on the fashion moodboard

Visual Merchandising

Finally stores, pop-ups and malls all get guidance from the concepts created on and within the board

For more in-depth content on the moodboard creation process and our insights, checkout that blog.

💻 How do you create a fashion moodboard?

The creative process to create a mood board, is either online using a fashion moodboard maker / digital mood board or offline using a physical mood board and is seen as the start of the inspiration process ➡️

Fashion designers from brands of all shapes and sizes use this stage to collect their ideas, look for themes, and finally start to join those ideas and patterns on their fashion moodboard, into what will eventually become a collection.

The main function of a fashion moodboard is to focus the fashion designer’s mind on the initial idea, aesthetic, style and direction, while also relaying the brand values 🖼

Below is the steps taken to create mood boards in general as well as a fashion moodboard.

The first step is where to look for inspiration.

Where to look for inspiration

  • Offline sources - Parks, art, nature, music, poetry and travel have all been sources of inspiration designers we've heard during our research
  • Online sources - Vintage outfits, catwalk images, generic stock images and fashion weeks are all sources we've found

A full list off the online sources we'd recommend using for your digital mood board are listed below.

How to organize content

  • Storage - icloud, gdrive, box & Onedrive are all cloud based storage options
  • Platfroms - Adobe, Pinterest and Make the Dot are all online platforms to help designers organzie content

Top Tip! Start with a fashion moodboard template, to make the process even quicker and easier if you're creating a mood board in digital form.

How to present your themes

  • Physical board- This physical space is still the preferred method for many fashion designers as it's size gives the aesthetic big picture
  • Digital moodboard - Makes sense in giving designers flexibility to present their fashion moodboard from anywhere, anytime

We've also written a more in-depth blog on the process and challenges fashion designers face when creating a fashion moodboard.

The contains the best things and best way to present your ideas, from feedback from over 500 interviews.

Fashion moodboard platforms

In order to create a digital mood or fashion moodboard, the designer needs a fashion moodboard maker, and for this there are a few tools on the market today.


An online app and image database popular with fashion designers the world over. Its rich fashion database and imagery makes it easy to collect images and make a fashion moodboard online in the right direction


A design tool known to both novice and experienced designers. Canva’s free tier and template library allows users the ability to create fashion moodboards online in a simple and easy way

Make the Dot

(cough cough) Make the Dot is the all-in-one fashion moodboard maker, whose main purpose is focused specifically on fashion designers. Our free forever app and fashion specific features such as; built in color palettes, an infinite canvas, browser plugin and built in collaboration.

This gives designers all the things they need to start designing their fashion moodboards fast and collaboratively.

👀 The top summer fashion trends to add to your fashion moodboard

Ok, now we know how what is a fashion moodboard and how to make a fashion moodboard online, lets get into the hottest trends from the fashion industry for Summer 2023. And how that 2023 mood board might look.

Modern day Y2K

Fashion is cyclical, and if you hold onto something long enough, it will eventually come back into style.

Usually, these cycles can take tens of years, but scroll through social media the fashion design trend of Y2K has become mainstream once again, just two short decades after its first appearance 👵

Most prominent across social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, Y2K fashion has been widely embraced by Gen-Z. Y2K staples such as, cropped tees, baggy pants, and bucket hats are all being put back onto our shelves, only a short time since they left.

The naughties was known for excesses, with fashion at the time largely driven by pop culture and ultra-consumerism. Think designer monograms and bedazzled logos and wardrobe’s full of pieces that exist in-between streetwear-and-glamour.

Y2K trend of big baggy jeans
Big jeans and baggy fits on your fashion moodboard?

New world vibe

As we continue to transition back to the office, consumers are looking for ways to refresh their wardrobe. This trend is about workwear with a directional point of view—injecting new takes on separates that feel less formal and more comfortable. This trend will lead to a mix of casual and formal wear that maximises the comfort everyone has become accustom to while working from home, injected with the formality required for most offices 👩

Think suits and trainers, blazers and tee shirts and looser fitting smart attires than have been gracing office places in the past couple of years.

Casual meets formal for 2022
Casual x formal for fashion moodboard's in summer 2023

The cutouts

The Spring/Summer 2022 and Pre-Fall 2022 fashion shows marked the return of the "Cut-Out" – a glamorous, party-oriented trend. Think bare shoulders, with a cut that pops out at the waist, the collarbone, or the lower belly.

Fuelling a resurgence in party wear, we're starting to see personalities like Bella Hadid and Dua Lipa promote such "Cut-Out" dresses.

The return of "Cut-Out" also stems from the return of the past trend highlighted above. Crop-tops, loose jeans, flared jeans and low-rise pants, AKA Y2K.

Cutout dress
Cutouts are back for 2022 and 2023 on fashion moodboards

The importance of these summer 2023 fashion trends

Y2K is going nowhere

Unfortunately for those of you that thought Y2K trends were just a passing fad, it appears they are here to stay and have been adopted by Gen-Z on-mass.

Even millennials heading into mid-life seem to be adopting looks from their younger years.

Take not fashion brands.

A couple of other Y2K looks we spotted at New York Fashion Week:

So I think it's time we all went digging into our closet to see what gems we can find.

Formalwear is back.....just

Same as the Y2K nay sayers, those of you that celebrated the death of formalwear may have celebrated a tad to early.

Formalwear is back in our wardrobes and on our street abet in a slightly more relaxed easier way.

Proving class is permanent but comfort is king.

Checkout some looks from NYFW streetwear to see how celebs have been incorporating a touch of formal into their day to day looks

How to incorporate these looks in your fashion moodboard

What elements to add

  • Fabric swatches - Softer lighter hues will be key this summer so play around with these fabric swatches on your fashion moodboard. Checkout marketplaces like PV, as well as our in-depth blog on the subject to see which fabrics we'd recommend
  • Patterns & prints - Florals, bright prints and abstracts will all be important this summer. Read our blog from PV22 to see how we saw these incorporated in fashion moodboard
  • Garment inspiration - Visualizing similar styles, fits and looks is also a must for fashion designers when creating their fashion moodboard. It gives them a visual idea of how they might create their own collection. We use vogue for the latest looks straight from the runway
  • Design sketches - Last but not least, design sketches are essential for any fashion moodboard. They are the bones for any future style and bring clarity to any creative noise.

Some fashion moodboard examples for summer 2023

Checkout some example fashion moodboards for summer 2023 trends I made below.

Hope these will be some inspiration to you.

Summer 2023 fashion moodboard inspiration
Summer 2023 fashion moodboard inspiration

📰 The best sources to find fashion trends and inspiration

Last and most importantly finding sources of inspiration for these summer 2023 fashion trends is key, and below I’ve listed a few useful sources that have a rich library of content.


With one of the internets largest fashion specific image libraries available, Tagwalk is a great place to start your inspiration journey. Search by category, season or collection to start building out your 2023 fashion mood board


While Tagwalk is fashion specific, Unsplash contains a vaster but more generalised image library, allowing you to fill your 2023 mood board with way more than just hot fits. Think Google Images x 10


Focusing more on content and imagery of a more vintage nature, Gem is a great resource for comparing Spring-Summer 2023 trends to those of a more vintage nature, in particular content around the original Y2K of the naughties

To summarise

  • Fashion moodboards are important for designers and other departments within brands
  • Moodboards can be created digitally and physically using a number of tools
  • Fashion moodboard templates help a lot
  • Y2K trends are back, and formalwear isn't dead just yet
  • Incorporating the right colors, fabric swatches and patterns in your fashion moodboard are key
  • A number of useful online sites exist for fashion designers

I hope this blog and our insights from NYFW helped you create your perfect fashion moodboard for summer 2023.

Check out our other blogs on moodboards for fashion below👇

If you found this fashion blog useful please share below and follow our Instagram page for more content like this ✌️

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