In Bleak House, Esther Summerson is presented as the ideal Victorian girl, one who possesses virtue,cares for those around her, and appreciates the generosity of others. She is a bit… conventional, but she has to have a bit of spunk in her to survive some of the hardships her life has bestowed upon her. If she were here today, this is the kind of outfit I envision her in.
I recently fell in love with Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. You have to admit, the girl has some courage rocking spandex bike shorts and over-sized t-shirts while taking down some of Trenton’s finest criminals. But what if Stephanie were hunting her bounty in 2012? Here’s a modern update on her totally 90s wardrobe.
Time for round 2 of Fashionable Literature! Today’s outfit is inspired by Meg Murray, from Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet. The Quintet is a classic set of children’s books that captures the spirit of both imagination and adventure (you can see my reviews of the books here and here). An extremely intelligent, somewhat conservative, though adventurous girl, Meg is constantly donning a jacket and heading out with her family to explore the dimensions that await beyond this world. For this reason, she needs something that is practical and comfortable.
The 3/4 sleeve dress (or “fence” as I have called this sleeve length for years) is perfect for her– it would keep her protected from the many different elements of the universe while staying out of her way. Also it’s kind of plain, and she’s kind of tomboyish, so it works. The tights and boots are both super comfortable, and the pattern in the tights (you can’t see it, but there’s a diamond pattern) and the scarf give the little feminine touches that are just enough to attract attention but not enough to demand it, which fits Meg’s personality to a T.
For those of you who haven’t yet read the Time Quintet I recommend it wholeheartedly. As you will discover if you read my reviews, I found some of the books to be better than the others, but they are quick reads that you will be glad you took up.
So this is what I think Meg Murray would choose if she raided my closet. What would she choose if she had a go at yours?
I have too many clothes.
For someone who works from home, I really don’t need all of the clothes that I have, but I love them and I do wear them. Unfortunately, though, the people who built my little house were more worried about installing a floor furnace and perfecting the art of ridiculous floor plans than to think about adding a couple more feet to the closets. I love the house that I live in, it has a lot of charm and I love that it is kind of old, but really? A square kitchen in the middle of the house, completely enclosed by walls?
Since I moved in 3 months ago my collection of clothing has grown and I simply couldn’t get it to all fit into my tiny closet. A couple of days ago I completely emptied the small space (2 feet by 4 feet at best) and put Target’s most popular organizing products to work. After a couple of hours of folding, hanging, and adjusting I was finally able to fit everything into the closet. No more laundry baskets on the floor, no more questions from my boss asking me over Skype if that’s my massive pile of laundry behind me, and no more tripping over the clutter to get to my desk every morning.
While I was stuffing my clothing into my closet I began to think– if my favorite literary women were to come over and raid my wardrobe, what would they choose to wear? So, this morning, I wrote down a list of my favorite female characters and styled an outfit for each of them (though I use the word “styled” loosely because, while I may have been trying to channel Rachel Zoe, I certainly didn’t have the patience to deal with jewelry and stuck primarily to necklaces). With spring in the air I focused only on dresses and tried to choose the outfits based upon the personalities of the characters and my perception of their would-be modern tastes.
So, here is the first in a series of posts called “Fashionable Literature,” which will reveal what my favorite characters would pick if they raided my wardrobe.
I’ve chosen to begin with Edna Pontellier from The Awakening because she is one of my all-time favorite women in literature, despite her tragic story. For those of you who haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. One of the greatest pieces of feminist literature out there, it taps into the struggles of a woman living in a patriarchal society to understand and address her personal needs in lieu of the needs of the social structure.
For Edna, I wanted something feminine, soft, yet sexy. Her quest to satisfy her own sexual needs is of central importance in the book, but she is by no means the kind of woman you would find dressed in cheap pleather and walking in the red light district. I chose a sweet floral dress with a fuller skirt and a low-cut surplus neckline, which strikes the balance of sweet and spicy that Edna embodies. As I get older, I begin to truly understand the ramifications of Edna’s actions, especially for her children, but I believe that she really was a great woman with a beautiful heart– so my “beau coeur” necklace (meaning ”beautiful heart” in French) was perfect, especially since the story is placed in Louisiana.
Fashion is such a subjective topic and the impressions that Edna has left upon individual readers undoubtedly varies widely, so I’m interested to hear your feedback. Does this outfit represent Edna well? What would you have chosen for her?