novel inspiration…

Growing up, thanks to my parent’s decision (a wise one, at that) to not invest in cable television, my brother and sister and I spent most of our free time doing things like terrorizing the neighborhood, breaking each other’s arms, drawing houses out of chalk on the driveway, or reading. That last point, reading, is what I want to talk about today.

Reading opened my siblings and I up to a world far richer than television did back in the day. We got to travel to faraway lands, explore new cities, form clubs with our girlfriends, or solve crimes with our next door neighbor. Reading was our road trip remedy, our sleeping pill for restless nights, our doctor’s office waiting room time filler….it unlocked our imaginations and allowed us to explore places we would never have been able to go on our own. I credit much of my creativity and imagination today to books I read as a child. The Phantom Tollbooth showed me a world of ironic possibilities and fascinating creatures. The Westing Game taught me how to problem solve and think outside the box. The Poisonwood Bible explained to me the importance of family. You might laugh, but the Babysitter’s club series taught me about friendship and responsibility (and how to make money at an early age!).

Nowadays, I may not be taking the same lessons from books as I used to, but I do think it’s interesting to look back on some of my favorite titles, and how they have inspired me fashion-wise.

The Babysitter’s Club Series – I credit much of my prep school, plaid skort phase to this series. MaryAnne Spier, the sweet, polite character who acted as the club’s secretary (thanks to her outstanding penmanship and superior organization skills!) consistently carried the prep school theme out in her every day attire. Since my dream was always to be the secretary of a club (I was actually historian of two Honor Societies in high school…close enough!), I tried to emulate MaryAnne in penmanship, organization, and, of course, in clothing.

The Great Gatsby – My love of cloche hats is partly due to the introduction of this book in my life. There is something so romantic, so elegant, about the 1920’s in America. The jazz era was steeped in decadence and excess, which spilled out into the world of style and fashion. Costume jewelry was extremely popular back then, and I love to emulate that now by throwing on layers of pearls over an outfit, or donning giant crystal gemstones in my ear lobes.

The Awakening – Kate Chopin set the stage for feminism and the power of a woman’s voice with her novel set in New Orleans at the end of the 19th century. I’m not a staunch feminist by any means, but the tone of the book spoke to me greatly when I first read this back in high school. The confidence and poise that the main character, Edna, portrayed resonated with me in regards to how I view the choices I make in my own life, style included. I loved the ease and fluidity of the clothes in the South; the soft fabrics, chiffon layers, and of course, the hats. Granted, the corsets would have made me choke, but the tranquil air, laced with a breath of confidence that the women of this novel exuded was beautiful.

Dr. Zhivago – Ahhhh the mysterious romance of Pasternak’s Russia. I became intrigued with the dark, brooding, passionate tales of Lara and Yuri, and always wanted to travel to St. Petersburg in the wintertime so I could wear my fur stole and matching pill-box hat. Granted, I know Russia is much darker and oppressed than I’d care to imagine, but I’ll continue dreaming of a snow-covered land where fur is fabulous, the accents are sexy, and people drink vodka all the live-long day.

Atonement – The classic sophistication of the World War 2 era has always fascinated me. I also apparently have a taste for tragic love stories, as Atonement and Dr. Zhivago quite seemingly fall in this category. The grace and poise etched in the style of the late 30’s/early 40’s is beautiful. Chignons, midi skirts, chiffon and satin; it was a time when men still wore hats, and going out to dinner meant dressing to the nines. Class and elegance went hand in hand. I loved to wear my hair (when it was long) pulled into a low, sideswept chignon, much like the women did back then. I also own many high-waisted, calf length skirts which were very popular in everyday attire. The fact that this novel was set in the English countryside only added to my love of the story.

Have any books inspired you?

hearts and hugs,

B.

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Comments

  1. I totally forgot about “The Westing Game”, I loved that book as a kid!

  2. I also didn’t have cable growing up. So I spent a ton of time reading! When I wasn’t watching PBS… of course 😉
    I looooved the Babysitters club and wanted to be MaryAnn too!!
    I took a long hiatus from reading in college and then again during my MBA, but now I am back and loving it just like when I was a child and reading as much as I can!

  3. I love that you wanted to be organized and proper like Mary Ann and I wanted to be artsy and outgoing like Stacy and Claudia…guess we want what we can’t have?

    🙂

    I am working HARD to restore my love of reading…it takes practice!

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