Judge a Book by its Cover: Literature x Fashion

They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes fashion and literature make too good a combination to resist

In literature substance is queen. What lies beneath the surface is so much more valuable than any glossy exterior, and so the saying goes: don’t judge a book by its cover. But what about when a book is really ridiculously stylish? You might not be able to resist classic literature as fashion inspiration and dress to match your bookworm tendencies. That’s where literature x fashion inspirations come together – borrowing aesthetics from the power of classic novels. 

Bear in mind that we’re not recommending you take this to heart to the proportion of Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby… “Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily. ‘They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such… such beautiful shirts before…” – nobody needs THAT much built up emotion about a shirt.

Still, aren’t aesthetics an important part of good storytelling? In so very many classic novels the characters, the sense of place, and the mood are all built upon a clear aesthetic vision in the author’s mind’s eye. What would become of Cecilia Tallis in Atonement without her green wardrobe (and that dress, immortalised in the film version)? Or Truman Capote’s Holly Golightly without a string of pearls around her neck? Who could forget Capote’s description of how “she wore a slim cool black dress, black sandals, a pearl choker. For all her chic thinness, she had an almost breakfast-cereal air of health, a soap and lemon cleanness, a rough pink darkening in the cheeks.” Not us. Not ever. 


Even Holden Caulfield’s ridiculous red hunting hat in The Catcher in the Rye – a symbol of teenage affectation and youthful rebellion – is a fashion statement with purpose and flair.  “The way I wore it, I swung the old peak way around to the back – very corny, I’ll admit, but I liked it that way. I looked good in it that way.”  We’re sure he didn’t look good, but we appreciate the intention all the same.

So let the library takeover the runway (and your closet) with these conceptual inspiration videos created by Bex & Julz, curating our favourite style inspirations based on some literary classics. 



Franny and Zooey, by D.H Salinger 

Why:  Because family, New York City and a nervous breakdown never looked so good. Glamorous and vintage inspired feelings all around (with great shoes to boot).



 Literature x Fashion

For that 1960s NYC Franny and Zooey feeling we’d read it at home wearing smoke show scent and the perfect silk pyjamas. Take notes on your frankly my dear… notebook. If you need to go out, take the book with you and don’t forget the essentials: trench coat, emerald green heels and a carry on cocktail kit.

Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett

Why:  Because if you’re going to be waiting for this darn Godot character to show up, you might as well look good doing it. It’s also a great excuse for menswear inspired suiting, hats, boots and a beautiful watch.




 Literature x Fashion

You’ll be Waiting for Godot a long time, so make sure you’re comfortable with this flannel checked blazer and suit trousers, classic trilby hat and contrast tweed checkered coat. The endless slogan t-shirt and rose gold watch are perhaps an obvious nod to the book, but we couldn’t resist.

Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka 

Why:  Because nobody wants to wake up one morning and find oneself turned into a huge insect (poor Gregor) but on the bright side people will have to bring you snacks. Moreover, it’s a great excuse to lean into animal inspired brocades, fun textures, insane embellishments and statement jewellery. Morph into whatever creature you feel like, just say Kafka made you do it.




 Literature x Fashion

Should you wake up in a Kafka-esque reality and find out you’ve experienced a full Metamorphosis there’s always style consolation in the shape of embellished boots, velvet trimmed bee print trousers, insect jewellery, a claw ring, red nails and bug homeware decorations. You do you. We support it. Just wear a coat, it’s cold outside.