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While fashion used to be dominated by rigid trends, with styles coming "in" and going “out” within months, we now live in a fashion age where people are mixing eras and influences. So why not take some style inspiration from your favourite literature?
Get inspired with our short guide, then go on your own literary fashion adventures - re-read your favourite books and watch the movie or TV adaptations. Use sites like Pinterest to create mood-boards. Scour your local thrift stores and vintage fashions apps like Depop, or buying vintage sewing patterns and try your hand at making clothes.
- Little House on the Prairie - Western Prairie Style
Although it might have been set in the early days of the American west, Little House on the Prairie is synonymous with its 1970s TV adaptation. With their long braids, high-collar dresses and floral pinafores was heavily influenced women’s fashion of the time.
Models wearing Kenzo & Yves Saint Laurent with Liberty prints, 1975. Photograph by Barry Lategan
Nothing screams more 1970s Western Prairie style than Gunne Saxe. Once the affordable prom and graduation dresses of many a teenage girl, these flouncy, Edwardian-inspired frocks have sky-rocketed in popularity and are now highly sought after, usually selling for hundreds of dollars.
Vintage Gunne Sax Wedding Dress
While you might struggle to find an original Gunne Sax, you can also keep an eye out for their English cousin, Laura Ashley. Started in the 1970s, this brand were the main purveyors of romantic, Liberty-print floral dresses. They too have become collectable over the years. Luckily, both brands spawned a million copies, and you won’t find it hard to find an original 1970s maxi dress at vintage boutiques or from online shops.
2. Anne of Green Gables - Cottagecore Style
More country inspiration. Few trends in the last few years have taken such a hold as Cottagecore. While not inspired by any particular book or film, with its romantic ruffles, floral prints and Edwardian up-dos, Anne of Green Gables could help you to put your own unique spin on this mega popular trend.
Anne's Dress Set by gracefulthreads. Photo by Work of Heart Photography
Like Little House on the Prairie, the TV adaptation of these books is just as popular. This is great, because it means tons of visual inspiration! Anne of Green Gables follows the story of a young girl who is sent to live with her aunt on Prince Edward Island, in Newfoundland. In this remote and wild place, she falls in love with nature and builds a new life for herself.
Left, Dress by LoveShakeFancy. Right, photographer unknown
Australian brand LoveShackFancy makes beautiful, feminine dresses that definitely fit this inspiration without being a costume. Think delicate, pale colours, broderie anglaise and lace, mid-length or long hemlines.
You could also try searching for Edwardian, high-neck blouses. While originals might be expensive, this style was also popular in the 1970s, so you might find an affordable option from this era. Cotton petticoats, either peeking out under skirts or dresses or worn alone, are also an affordable and relatively easy find.
3. Jack Kerouac - 1960s Beatnik Style
Jack Kerouac by Wilbur Pippen, circa 1950
If you find Cottagecore and Prairie too frilly or romantic, then this classic 1960s look might be for you. Better yet, you probably can even construct the outfits from things in your own closet. It’s got to be black, the hemlines has got to be short and the sunglasses must be dark. Think thin black polo-neck sweaters, black tights and a-line miniskirts.
"Campus Beat Preppy", VOGUE Italia, March 1994, photograph by Steven Meisel
While Jack Kerouac might be the literary star of Beatnik literature (and he dressed well sometimes too), the fashion icon of 60s fashion has to be French pop star Francoise Hardy. With her heavy bangs and cat-eye makeup, she is still the epitome of French insouciance. Her outfits were simple, and therefore really easy to emulate!
Left, Kate Moss, photographed by Peter Lindbergh. Right, Francoise Hardy
This look, never complete without black tights and a wool beret, is perfect for fall.
4. Mary Shelley - Dark Romance Style
Portrait of Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell (1840)
For those who love romance but lean towards something darker and more gothic-inspired. Take inspiration from the creator of the first ever science-fiction / horror novel, Frankenstein. An eerie, unsettling novel unlike anything the world had ever read before, Shelley basically invented a whole genre. Shelley initially began writing the novel as a “dare” between herself, her husband Percey Shelley and Lord Byron, as to who could write the scariest ghost story. You can imagine who the winner was.
Left, "Paradise Lost" for Contributor Magazine. Photography by Magnus Magnusson. Right, Dress by Later Studio
Portraits of Shelley present her as a woman who dressed typical for her era - corsets, dresses with sweeping, low necklines and hair styled in a low chignon with a severe middle-part. While you might not want to recreate this look entirely, there is still plenty of inspiration to be had from Victorian fashion.
Left, Victorian style lace cuffs. Right, Elle Fanning in "Mary Shelley" (2017)
Keep it dark and gothic with black dresses, full skirts and cinched waists. Delicate lace details, such as cuffs or a collar will add a little bit of whimsy and stop you from looking too severe. Think about layering your jewellery.
5. Zelda Fitzgerald - Ballet Style
Zelda in a flowerbed, 1919
As well as being the spouse of the most famous writer in the world and a writer in her own right, Zelda trained as a ballet dancer. At twenty-five, she was a little older than most to take up this punishing hobby, but she had fallen in love. She began lessons whilst living in Paris, and two years later, she embarked on a career as a professional ballet dancer. Sadly, her burgeoning career was halted by encroaching mental health problems. She would hold a torch for her love of ballet for the rest of her life, and it featured frequently in her novels and short stories.
Look for delicate, cropped wrap cardigans in soft fabrics, such as Angora or cashmere, pale tights or socks, diaphonous wrap skirts that tie at the waist. As there’s not a lot to these outfits, you’ll need to layer up with body suits and thermal tights in the winter to keep warm. Wear your hair up in a tight chignon and keep your make-up minimal, and in a similar palette - pale pinks and blues. Luckily for you, ballet flats are back in fashion. Repetto is the classic outfitter of ballet shoes.
Left, Wrap cardigans from Morning Lavender. Right, Co Spring 2018
Whatever style takes your fancy, use literary inspiration to infuse your wardrobe with more bookish reference. You don't need a load of fancy new clothes - in fact, your more likely to find inspiration in your local thrift stores and vintage outlets. So be creative and think outside the box!
At BookQuoteDecor.com, we believe in transforming spaces with the power of words. Our mission is to curate and create high-quality, literary-inspired decor that not only enhances your surroundings but also celebrates the timeless beauty of language. We aspire to bring the enchantment of books into your daily life, one carefully crafted quote at a time.