Romantic Style from Books

I think a lot of my obsession for pretty things comes from my mom. Not really from her directly,  but from the fact that she was really into the Victorian period when I was little, and we watched a lot of Jane Austen movies and things like that. Because of all of that romantic stuff surrounding me all the time, I still tend to get fashion inspiration more from books and movies than actual fashion designers. Which I think more people should do. Not to say, “yay, be like me, I’m awesome,” but just that people are so much more malleable than they tend to think. You always hear people saying things like “that’s just who I am,” or always trying to be real, or true to themselves, but the fact is that you are whoever you want to be. There are things that I like, and so I try to emulate them. Actually, I do think this is a pretty common thing to do, but it’s good to do it consciously, meaning you don’t just influence yourself by watching a movie, or hearing something, or being friends with someone, but instead deciding “I like this, but it isn’t who I want to be,” or “I like this and it is who I want to be.” One of my favorite quotes is from Shaw, who says “life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Which, if you look at almost all famous and memorable people, they do. Them embody themselves in a way that most other people can’t.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite style inspirations from books:
-I was longing for a long, silky robe until Roger bought one for me. I call it my peignoir, and it makes me feel half like a twenties heiress and half like one of the ladies from The Awakening:

 “Mrs. Pontellier was by that time thoroughly awake. She began to cry a little, and wiped her eyes on the sleeve of her peignoir. Blowing out the candle, which her husband had left burning, she slipped her bare feet into a pair of satin mules at the foot of the bed and went out on the porch, where she sat down in the wicker chair and began to rock gently to and fro.”

and when I go down the steps it flows behind me like Scarlett O’Hara

-I often leave my jackets open and carry handkerchiefs around with me almost exclusively because of Rebecca:

“(The handkerchief) must have been in the mackintosh pocket for a long time. There was a monogram in the corner. A tall sloping R, with the letters de W interlaced. The R dwarfed the other letters, the tail of it ran down into the cambric, away from the laced edge. It was only a small handkerchief, quite a scrap of a thing. It had been rolled in a ball and put away in the pocket and forgotten. I must have been the first person to put on that mackintosh since the handkerchief was used. SHe who had worn the coat then was tall, slim, broader than I about the shoulders, for I had found it big and over-long, and the sleeves had come below my wrists. Some of the buttons were missing. She had not bothered to do it up. She had thrown it over her shoulders like a cape, or worn it loose, hanging open, her hands deep in her pockets.”

-Speaking of jackets, I bought my trench coat because I loved Myrna Loy in the Thin Man so much.

Roger and I would make a great sleuthing couple

-Rebecca has motivated me to always have flowers in my house, and to keep things like ink writing utensils and personal stationary on my desk:

“But this writing table, beautiful as it was, was no pretty toy where a woman would scribble little notes, nibbling the end of a pen,leaving it day after day, in carelessness, the blotter a little askew. The pigeon-holes were docketed, “letters-unanswered,” “letters-to-keep,” “household,” “estate,” “menus,” “miscellaneous,” “addresses”; each ticket written in that same scrawling pointed hand that I knew already.” (Rebecca is also why I always write in cursive)

-I dream of someday having a rhodedendron lined driveway (although my lilacs are pretty good right now) especially since I saw someone once who did have that! The gravel drive was lined with red rhodedendrons and live oaks with spanish moss blocked out the sky. I was probably only ten or so when I saw it, but I still remember because it was that beautiful:

“Suddenly, I saw a clearing in the dark drive ahead, and a patch of sky, and in a moment the dark trees had thinned, the nameless shrubs had disappeared, and on either side of us was a wall of colour, blood-red, reaching far above our heads. We were amongst the rhododendrons. There was something bewildering, even shocking, about the suddenness of their discovery. The woods had not prepared me for them. The startled me with their crimson faces, massed one upon the other in incredible profusion, showing no leaf, no twig, nothing but the slaughterous red, lucious, and fantastic, unlike any rhododendron plant I had seen before.”

-My Antonia is one of my other favorite books because of its romantic style. I wish that I was a rose-cheecked peasant girl:

 “Lena Lingard came across the stubble barefoot, in a short skirt, with a curved reaping-hook in her hand, and she was flushed like the dawn, with a kind of luminous rosiness all about her. She sat down beside me, turned to  me, and let out a soft sigh.”

And it’s made me determined to have a basement kitchen like Jim does in the novel. I mean, doesn’t that make sense anyway? Working over a hot stove would be so much more pleasant in a cool summer basement, and would warm the whole house in the winter.

-I’ve mentioned before how much I love the style of Chocolat, and I tend to get other style tips from movies too. I bought a whole bunch of lacey nightdowns and wedges because of Salma Hayek in In the Time of the Butterflies (I know, horrible movie to be getting style advice from), and the colors in my living room came from The Importance of Being Earnest.


My point in all of this really is to point out that it’s really easy to create yourself out of things that you like. I hate pinterest (gasp!) because I feel like it makes it easy for people to just say “I like this” “I like that” without doing anything about it. If you like something, make it part of your life, in your house, in your clothing. Embody yourself.

Want more style? Check out this really great website which has created outfits based on famous paintings, and this is one of my favorite Victorian Items Store (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’); ga(‘create’, ‘UA-52731437-1’, ‘auto’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);

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