Powerful, Fashionable Literary Characters That Are Still Inspiring

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The ongoing love affair between fashion and literature to visually portray the character’s personality is always breaking grounds in the ideals of à la mode.

Be it the gothic cottage core aesthetic of devastatingly heartbroken Miss Havisham in The Great Expectations who wears her tattered and old wedding gown repeatedly, reminiscing about her lost love. Sayuri’s transformation from a gauche to a polished geisha in Memoirs of A Geisha time-lined through her stunning outfits, show that a well-put outfit serves as armour of self-confidence. 

And, when Jane Eyre rejects the offer of Mr Rochester to replace her staid cotton gowns with silks and satins, it signifies her desire to be true to her personality, and not be shaped by his.

Fashion’s role in literature is always proclaiming its love for the character, none more so than the few of the many that have fascinated me as a reader, who might have inspired by sense of style.


1.Claudia Kishi from the Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin

Claudia Kishi was and continues to be the OG Thrift Queen whose passion for art and expression find their release in the way she dresses herself. She mixes her 80s and 90s vintage finds with contemporary high-street labels, mis-matched earrings, and of course, a side ponytail. Prints, patterns, bold colours, all come other in this haphazard but

Highlight: Her outfit at Camp Moosehead outfit showcases how effortlessly she styles herself with even the basics — tying the shirt at waist into a knot, pants with boots, oversized sunnies, and of course, lemon earrings.

2. Cecilia Tallis from Atonement by Ian McEwan:

Cecilia Tallis’s fashion style can be described as aristocratic English style of the 30-40s. Dressed entirely in silks and laces, soft colours with delicate cuts, her costumes throughout the movie represent her journey as a lady of leisure — from her one piece white swimsuit with cut-outs at the chest, pairing an art deco print skit with detailed buttons with a muted floral print translucent shirt for a sultry summer days in the garden, and the pivotal green dress, which signals the end of her old life and beginning of a new one as a nurse where she dresses only entirely in wool wearing androgynous clothes.

Highlight: The iconic emerald green dress in silk with its bare shoulders, straps, and panels, ruching at the waist, falling to the floor, merges the glamour of the 30s with contemporary style that has left its mark in fashion.


3.Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote:

When we get our first glimpse of Holly, she is still impeccably put together after what is a late night out. Standing in front of a Tiffany’s window display, she is peering through the glass eating a danish with one hand and holding the coffee in the other. Her sleeveless black dress with its demi-lune neckline accentuated with triple strand Robert Scemama pearls paired with long black gloves and oversized Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses compliments her coiffed hair do, nary a strand out of place. We know she is a lady of the night, and that the now iconic dress is her outfit for her night out on town. In the first 30 seconds, we had a costume tells us everything we need to know about a character.

Highlight: At home, while singing Moon River, Holly wears blue jeans with a sweatshirt, her hair wrapped in turban, and wearing flats

4.Effie Trinket from the Hunger Games series by Suzzanne Collins:

Effie Trinket’s role as the escort for the tributes of District 12 for the Hunger Games meant that when the spotlight was on her, she ate it up. Decidedly feminine with a wicked or playful streak, the costumes with all their frills, and layers, and flounces, stood out in stark contrast to the muted colour tones uniforms of the tributes. Outlandishly vibrant wigs, oversized head accessories, voluminous eyelashes — the ones with the butterflies are tres magnifique, she was serving looks every time you saw her on screen. Theatrical or camp? You decide. 

Highlight: So many, the mustard yellow butterfly dress designed by Alexander McQueen, the dusty lavender dress paired with a light blue wig, the grey structured suit with white fur, or the mosaic print cocktail outfit paired with a clown collar in hunter green, paired with hot pink false lashes, and a blonde wig covered in sparkles and glitter. 


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