Literary Lookbook

1920s flapper dressThere are thousands of places to go for style inspiration the usual being magazines, fashion blogs, television or if you’re me it’s generally just stalking Alexa Chung to check what she’s wearing. But recently in my geeky brain I’ve had a revelation, I decided to turn to my first love for inspiration, literature. Hundreds of differing characters with vividly described styles are hidden between the pages just waiting for you to take inspiration from them. So I’ve composed a small selection of literary inspired styles for your perusal. Although please allow me a little creative license, I’m not encouraging you to dress up as your favourite literary character a la comic-book convention style.


My first look comes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. While Alice’s style is the most iconic character and I would want to give her credit for being the most style-inspirational seven year old in history, I decided to look at the other characters.  Bear with me because I haven’t gone mad as a hatter, I have legitimately attempted to draw fashion inspiration from a nervous white rabbit his mad top-hat wearing friend.


The white rabbit famously wears a waistcoat and carries a pocket watch, while the Hatter, well he obviously wears a top hat. These are perfect symbols of Victorian style (albeit male Victorian style) so why not channel them into your own Wonderland homage.


 Shirt - ASOS  Tweed Waistcoat - Holland Cooper  Red Brogues - Kate Kanzier  Top Hat - Karl Lagerfeld
Shirt – ASOS Tweed Waistcoat – Holland Cooper Red Brogues – Kate Kanzier
Top Hat – Karl Lagerfeld

 Burberry Tweed Trousers - net-a-porter  Alice In Wonderland Brooch -  Tea Time Ring -  Pocket Watch -
Burberry Tweed Trousers – net-a-porter
Alice In Wonderland Brooch – Tea Time Ring – Pocket Watch –


If you’re feeling a bit more subtle than the mad hatter, my next literary inspiration is the queen of demure style. Holly Golightly from the novel Breakfast at Tiffany’s is described as such; “She was never without dark glasses, she was always well groomed, there was a consequential good taste in the plainness of her clothes, the blues, the greys and lack of lustre that made her, herself, shine so.


As we all know, the understated look is always in fashion which is why Holly Golightly is another literary fashion icon. Go for fitted styles in darker shades to channel the classiness of Holly.  Not forgetting giant sunnies, regardless of the season, to add an air of mystery.


 Black Dress - Zara  Shift Dress - New Look  Shift Dress - Warehouse  Ray Ban Sunglasses -
Black Dress – Zara
Shift Dress – New Look
Shift Dress – Warehouse Ray Ban Sunglasses –


This subtle and chic style promotes a confident attitude as it’s you and not your clothes that make the statement. So I guess we have a lot to thank Holly for, as she said in her own words, “Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.”


Next up is D H Lawrence’s Women in Love. The descriptions of all Lawrence’s female characters clothing is incredibly beautiful. Set in the nineteen-twenties, Lawrence’s descriptions of the women’s style embraces everything about twenties style. For example, “She was fashionably dressed in blackish-green and silver, her hat was a brilliant green, like the sheen of an insect, but the brim was soft dark green, a falling edge with fine silver, her coat was dark green lustrous, with a high collar of grey fur and grey fur cuffs, the edge of her dress showed silver and black velvet, her stockings and shoes were silver grey.”


Now obviously I can’t find an outfit exactly like this, but taking inspiration from the dark tones mixed with flashes of silver sparkle, intricate detailing and nineteen twenties shapes, I found some beautiful dresses.


 Dress - Dorothy Perkins  1920s Cream Dress -  1920s Black Dress -  1920s Black Dress - ASOS
Dress – Dorothy Perkins
1920s Cream Dress –
1920s Black Dress – 1920s Black Dress – ASOS


The one item the women in the novel are rarely described without is a hat. I like pretty much any excuse to wear a hat, and if only it were the twenties and one just wouldn’t consider going out without one. The ultimate twenties hat was the cloche, worn exclusively by women, yet its helmet style shape gives it that masculine edge which twenties women were adopting. I’ve just purchased one of these beautiful felt hats and can’t wait to be a poser whilst taking an autumnal stroll.


Beige Wool Cloche Hat - Marks & Spencer Wool Cloche Hat - Accessorize Leopard Cloche Hat - John Lewis
Beige Wool Cloche Hat – Marks & Spencer
Purple Wool Cloche Hat – Accessorize
Leopard Cloche Hat – John Lewis



The beauty of taking fashion inspiration from a novel is that I can imagine some of my own outfit additions. Check out these beautiful twenties inspired accessories which wouldn’t be out of place in Women in Love.


T-Bar Shoes - ASOS Velvet Handbag - Topshop vintage comb -
T-Bar Shoes – ASOS
Velvet Handbag – Topshop
vintage comb –
Pearl Necklace - Miss Selfridge Ted Baker Gloves - Littlewoods  Feather Headband - ASOS
Pearl Necklace – Miss Selfridge
Ted Baker Gloves – Littlewoods
Feather Headband – ASOS


I must say I am fairly impressed at my ability to be inspired by fictional characters.  I hope this was in someway inspiring for you.  Now if you can just get your bloke to dress up as Darcy or Rochester then you’re onto a winner. Or Heathcliff, if you’re into that.


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