The real style bibles: The classics books that inspired the latest looks

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

"Vain trifles as they seem," writes Virginia Woolf in Orlando, "clothes have, they say, more important offices than merely to keep us warm."

Fashion, aka the art of dressing up,  has always been about creating a character for ourselves and some of the best-loved literary creations are inseparable from their sense of style – from haute-couture heroines such as Truman Capote’s Holly Golightly with her “slim cool black dress, black sandals [and] pearl choker” to Patrick Bateman’s obsession with the perfect Armani suit in American Psycho.

Fashion has caused a few epic downfalls, too. Take housekeeper from hell Mrs Danvers forcing the second Mrs De Winter to commit the ultimate fashion faux pas and wear a dress just like Rebecca’s, or Emma Bovary’s addiction to “all sorts of elegant trifles” which made her shop till she literally dropped. And now, in a case of reality mimicking the art that previously took its lead from reality, fashion’s biggest names have clearly been reading up,  as this season’s key trends have been inspired by some literary classics.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Say goodbye to neon brights and colour-blocking, as next season you’ll be seeing your wardrobe in black and white. And maybe grey. Quakerish governess Jane “Plain” Eyre would certainly approve  of this obsession with minimalist chic. When Mr Rochester tries to dress her up in satin and lace party frocks she insists on keeping her dour grey-and-black uniform. A way of asserting her independence as well as her sense of identity, in case “I shall not be your  Jane Eyre any longer, but an ape in  a harlequin’s jacket – a jay in borrowed plumes”. Roland Mouret, Céline and Stella McCartney obviously agree. Their pared-down, monochrome looks for spring/summer 2013 are severe, simple and devastatingly cool. Better stick last summer’s lime-green lace dress in the attic and hope there’s an accidental fire.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

It’s ironic that Dracula’s victim Lucy Westenra should not “take sufficient interest in dress to be able to describe  the new fashions”, as her transformation from the lady to a vamp makes her bang on trend this season as designers get bitten by all things gothic. See Lanvin’s chunky chokers, Christopher Kane’s leather and lace looks, and Dolce & Gabbana’s obsession with every count’s favourite accessory, the cape. But forget the teenage goth listening to the Cure in a graveyard, Gothic 2013 has all the sexiness of Dracula’s “three sisters”,  with their “brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips”. Go for a high-necked, tight-waisted Victoriana look as seen at Chanel and mix it up with dark textures. You’re aiming for Lucy post her interview with a vampire – “her sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty and the purity to… wantonness”.

On The Road by Jack Kerouac

Kerouac’s Beat classic beloved by teenagers, stoners and all those who just want to escape the system, maaan, is also the first hipster fashion bible. Moriarty’s teenage bride Marylou is your muse, described by Kerouac as “a pretty blonde with immense ringlets of hair like a sea of golden tresses”. She might not have the curls, or the blonde, but Kristen Stewart, who plays Marylou in Walter Salles’ cinematic adaptation (out now) has this dishevelled, beatnik look down. But you know a bohemian dream has died when it gets trademarked by Prada. Their 1950s resort collection was inspired by American road-trippers – think striped tees, high-waisted shorts and Capri pants. And for the boys? Sal’s sentimental attachment to his wool  plaid shirt makes it a must-have. And  if you can get your hands on a 1937  Ford Sedan, all the better.

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

The enigmatic Jay Gatsby’s gaudy  “white flannel suit, silver shirt and gold-colored tie” make him the epitome of style over substance. His manufacturing of myth and the emptiness behind the glamour make The Great Gatsby both a hymn to fashion and a critique of its artifice. Daisy Buchanan weeps over Gatsby’s wardrobe like a menopausal fashion editor. “They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobs, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such beautiful shirts before.” The 1920s Art Deco trend is still roaring this autumn, ahead of Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation finally hitting screens next year, and Ralph Lauren and Tory Burch sent their models down the catwalk in drop-waisted dresses and sequinned headbands that would have had Daisy all a-flapper. Accessorise with mint juleps all round. And call everyone “old sport”.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Although Kitty might arrive at the ball trussed up as if she’d been “born in net and lace”, it is, of course, Anna Karenina who steals Count Vronksy’s heart in a “low-necked, black velvet dress which exposed her full shoulder and bosom”. It’s probably the best LBD ever. Silk, velvet and brocade were all waltzed down the autumn/winter catwalks of Balmain, Versace and MaxMara. In fact, if it looks like something you’d wear in 19th-century Russia, it’s probably just right for your Christmas party. That includes opulent fur hats (faux, obviously), tapestry bags and lots of pearls and expensive-looking bling. Preferably given to you by your illicit lover. Do mind your mink stole when you’re getting on the train, though.

News
peopleTop Gear presenter and all-round controversialist is at it again
Life & Style
techHow a 'grey brick' took over the world of portable gaming
Sport
Aaron Ramsey celebrates after opening the scoring in Arsenal's win over Hull `
sport
News
peopleActress speaks out against historic sexual assault claims, saying things have 'gone quite far now'

VIDEO
News
Coren Mitchell, who is the daughter of the late broadcaster Alan Coren and is married to comedian David Mitchell, produced a hand to make poker history at the 98th EPT main event.
peopleJournalist and TV presenter becomes first ever two-time winner of the European Poker Tour
Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Life & Style
Guests enjoy food and cocktail parings by Chefs Jimmy Bannos, Jimmy Bannos Jr, Daniel Rose and Mindy Segal with mixologists Josh King and Alex Gara at Bounty & Barrel: A Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Dinner Series at Heaven on Seven on April 9, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.
food + drinkSprinkle Palcohol 'on almost any dish' for 'an extra kick' firm says...
Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
tvReview: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
News
politicsLabour launches the 'completely hollow' Easter Clegg
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
sport Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Arts & Entertainment
Last, but by no means least, is Tommy Cooper and the fez. This style of hat became a permanent trademark of his act.
comedyNot Like That, Like This centres on alleged domestic abuse
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Geography Teacher

    £130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...

    Do you want to work in Education?

    £55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...

    Private Client Senior Manager - Sheffield

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...

    Day In a Page

    Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

    The man who could have been champion of the world

    Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
    Didn’t she do well?

    Didn’t she do well?

    Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
    The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

    The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

    In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
    Before they were famous

    Before they were famous

    Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
    Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

    Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

    Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players