The Literary Effect

Edie Campbell with her must-have accessory- a good book, or three!
  I'm sure I'm not the first to notice that fashion has started to embrace intellectuality, whether it's through the preppy, slogan tee hype (proudly stating you're a 'Geek' or a 'Dork') or the use of collage-look lettering on garments. Philip Lim is the master of this, his S/S '13 collection being based on the 'Cut-up' literary method where one slices up a text and reunites the words in a new order. In this case of 'Cut and Paste', Lim created a youthful and experimental urban vibe, but there is no doubt that the beauty of words have a new-found significance in style.
Philip Lim's cut up method for S/S'13

Marilyn Monroe reading in bed
    From Marilyn to Audrey, Kate Moss to modish Brit model Edie Campbell, fashionable figures are making reading look cool (not that I needed any convincing, having always been a happy bookworm!) Edie even juggles her role in the UK independent charity, The Reading Agency, alongside her History of Art degree at the Courtauld Institute in London. The charity is a library development agency that aims to help children, young people and adults feel inspired and confident about reading. Edie is involved in promoting the UK's largest reading activity, the renowned 'Summer Reading Challenge', showing how close books are to her heart. 

Kate Moss and Audrey Hepburn demonstrate the allure of
 being a literature fanatic
     Making recent headlines is the news that Emma Watson is transferring to New York University to continue her education away from the bright lights of Hollywood, and Karlie Kloss' 'Harvard' announcement. The Vogue cover star and face of Juicy Couture is not hiding the fact that she wants to step out of the limelight to study either business or medicine, stating: "Tyra did it. She went to Harvard business school and I can do it, too". Tyra Banks graduated in 2012 with a diploma in Harvard's Owner/President Management Program, sharing plenty of pictures of her posing in her Harvard hoody on her Twitter account!   In fact, the latest trend in the model world is pursuing a higher education, as Catherine Ostler, the former editor of Tatler says herself, "There is an appetite now for models to be intelligent, well-mannered and educated" (The Economist). Coffee-table publications like Tatler, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Elle display in themselves that there is a academic side to fashion with their variant of cultural and lifestyle articles. My latest girl crush, the lovely Rosie Tapner- see February's blogpost 'Rosie Tapner Is Rad In Topshop's S/S'13 Ad'- is the perfect example of the new kind of model Ostler describes. Rosie's Twitter photo albums capture a blend of her best career moments- check out the model version of The Harlem Shake, starring Rosie, Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn- with pictures of school friends and homework! 

Tyra the graduate, model, actress and TV personality! What a résumé!
Scholars and writers have historically had their say on fashion, with Plato being quoted saying: "Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity". The following wonderful piece of styling advice came from none other than 'The Great Gatsby' novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald: "(It is) better to wear a becoming dress three times straight than to alternate it with two frights".      As well as coveting books as an accessory, and taking sartorial advice from their authors, never under-estimate the power of a novel character. Fitzgerald's Daisy Buchanan and her wardrobe of flapper frocks has hit style icon lists everywhere, while Truman Capote started an LBD frenzy with his novella 'Breakfast At Tiffany's'. Holly Golightly is the definition of effortless city-chic with her dark glasses, slim black dress, black sandals, pearl choker and cropped hair. For the modern day, just think of all the amazing high-fashion references in Cecily von Ziegesar's Gossip Girl series or Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic books. 
      Designers covertly and overtly incorporate literary fashions into their designs. Take Valentino's usage of statement peter pan collars for A/W '13- the evolution of the collar travels all the way back to 1905, when actress Maude Adams wore one in her role as Peter Pan in the broadway adaptation inspired by J. M Barrie's most enduring work. Chloé is a label that time after time caters for the professional woman with its predominant white, black and navy colour palette, easy tailoring and signature crisp, white blouses. 

Truman Capote's Breakfast At Tiffany's

Peter Pan collars galore at Valentino A/W '13

Tuxedo jackets, shirts and a work-appropriate colour palette at Chloe A/W '13
      The Tumblr site,, is a fabulous idea. Run by two book lovers, Dylan and Olivia, the blog takes literary characters (they are open to suggestions!) and makes modern outfit collages inspired by them. Characters with outfits include Jay Gatsby, Alice of Lewis Carroll's 'Alice in Wonderland',  Anna Karenina, Willy Wonka, Katniss from The Hunger Games, Matilda Wormwood and personalities from Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings, Pride and Prejudice, The Bell Jar and many other classics. 

The Mad Hatter, by Dylan and Olivia of 'Fashion From Literature'
      The preppy look is so current and influential that it was hardly surprising a designer would go that one step further and create accessories out of literal literature. Olympia Le-Tan's quirky framed book clutches have been snapped up and championed by the likes of Diane Kruger, Clemence Poesy and Natalie Portman, in a wholesome way to promote reading. The newly-established French designer created her beautiful box bags based on her own obsession with novels and their graphic covers. While Le-Tan's clutches tend to illuminate vibrant, best-selling covers, Chanel have stuck to their traditional elegant aesthetic with their black leather and gold gilted book clutch.

A selection of Olympia Le-Tan's book clutches

Diane Kruger carrying Chanel's black and gold book clutch

Clemence's famous novel clutch adds an enchantment to her outfit
       Etsy has a gorgeous selection of vintage book clutches, such as this charming Alice in Wonderland blue clutch, at a snippet of the Le-Tan prices, but you could also have a go at a DIY project (if you can bear to ruin your home library!) By glueing the pages together in one place and cutting a carefully measured square into their depths, you will end up with a nice cubby-hole for those typical phones, money and cosmetics. Then, all you need to do is attach a closing clasp and line the cubby-hole with pretty ditsy fabric, as seen below! 

Etsy Alice in Wonderland Blue Book Clutch £20.63

Inspiration for a DIY book clutch- an excuse to swoon in the haberdashery!
       Another DIY way to show you are literature appreciative is to rock newspaper nails. Paint your nails with a clear base coat and then a light colour for maximum shine. Cut out ten pieces of newspaper, one to fit each of your nails- if you have the time spare you could choose specific words to make a statement! Let your base and light coats dry before beginning the newspaper application. Dab rubbing alcohol onto your nail beds, then dip each piece of newspaper- one at a time- into a bowl of the alcohol and shake gently. Lay the strip, ink-side down, onto your nail (you may want to use tweezers!) and keep it still for ten seconds, applying light pressure- treat it like a temporary tattoo! When removed, the ink should have imprinted onto your nail. Do this for each nail, then allow nails to dry for five minutes, before sealing them with your favourite, glossy top coat.

DIY Newspaper nails

Printed nails at Louise Gray A/W '13
    Whether you attempt a DIY nail makeover or a DIY book clutch project, embrace slogan tees, base your outfit on a book hero or heroine or search for merchandise for your favourite novel, a style influenced by literature is the way to charm. 

Truffle Shuffle Ladies White Mikey Burton Collaboration Great Gatsby T-Shirt £27.99

Sterling Silver Jane Eyre Book Necklace from Not On The High Street £35

Truffle Shuffle Ladies Ecru Little Women Novel T-Shirt £27.99


  1. Great post - refreshing to read something different. I too am a book fan!

    Be great if you could check out my latests outfit posts: Givenchy Rottweiler & my Boohoo Global Styler entry.

    I am also running my 1st blog giveaway here where you could win MAC, Jewellery plus other goodies.

    Thanks! Charlie xx | UK Fashion Blog

  2. this is a wicked approach to a post :) i love the inclusion of text into fahsion!! xx

  3. I love the idea of intellectual chic plus, it's always awesome to hear about young people in Hollywood choosing to go back to school, it sets such a nice example for their fans. Amazing post!


  4. It's so interest. I bet you must be a so different and wonderful girl. Anyway, i am glad to read your post which is so outstanding from others.

  5. Great post! I love style and reading, and I love how you combined them!

  6. Omg, love your blog!


    Do you want to follow each other?


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