Friday, March 19, 2010

Fashion For English Majors

Lazing about drinking coffee and contemplating various thoughts, is such a dreamy way to spend a Saturday morning. I have my coffee mug in hand and my laptop at the table - and after roaming around the internets- found some things to share.

In a previous post I wrote about clothing and fashion in The House of Mirth, since writing that I have been thinking about the various books I read in college and what part style and dress played in them. I can go back further to my favorite childhood book Anne of Green Gables, remember how she wanted a puff sleeved dress? There were many little details in the book of how she dressed. In literature the clothing is important to the character - and often symbolic of something larger within the context of the book. It's the same in film.

I realize that my biggest style influences come from film and literature, because I really fall in love with a good story, and often wish it would never end, or that I could somehow be a part of the world that was created. Style is a way of emulating that.

Anyway, I want to read more about fashion in literature. I think I need to read this book:

Styling Texts: Dress and Fashion in Literature

Covering a variety of genres and periods from medieval epic to contemporary speculative fiction, Styling Texts explores the fascinating ways in which dress performs in literature. Numerous authors have made powerful—even radical—use of clothing and its implications, and the essays collected here demonstrate how scholarly attention to literary fashioning can contribute to a deeper understanding of texts, their contexts, and their innovations. These generative and engaging discussions focus on issues such as fashion and anti-fashion; clothing reform; transvestism; sartorial economics; style and the gaze; transgressive modes; and class, gender, or race “passing.”

This is the first academic volume to address such an extensive range of texts, inviting consideration of how fashionable desires and concerns not only articulate the aesthetics, subjectivities, and controversies of a given culture, but also communicate across temporal and spatial divisions. Styling Texts is an essential resource for anyone interested in the artistic representations and significations of dress.

I also found this article in the Guardian.

It's a topic that is interesting to me, because I have studied Art History as well, and in Art the clothing in many paintings is representative/symbolic of many things. Even in the most simplistic looking of paintings there is much more depth when you study them closely. I guess that can be said for many things! I am hoping to become much more aware of the details of dressing and style in the books I read.

I guess I'll never grow out of being bookish.


  1. I have always let film and literature influence my own style -- dressing like a fictional character both magical and empowering; you can almost embody their characteristic while feeling like a little girl playing dress-up.

    But it's also a secret, only you know who you are emulating when you put on your leather jacket, or your highest heels - to everyone else you are simply Girl in Clothes.

    Chic on the Cheap

  2. Some of the quotes in the Guardian article are pretty funny (or pretty true).

    It's funny that your mention of this brings up a memory of me finding the costuming section in my old college library - and finding a book of hairstyles through the years (presumably for plays) and being fascinated by it. I just thought it was the greatest thing you could unexpectedly find in a book!

    Please do let us know if you read that book!