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Writing (fiction and non-fiction) on Clothes, Fashion, Style

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by chorse123, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. chorse123

    chorse123 Well-Known Member

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    I'm hoping you guys can help me out. I'm doing some research on the literature (fiction and non-fiction) of clothing, fashion, and style. We had a great thread about this I think, but I can't seem to find it. What is the best? What stands out? I'm looking from Shakespeare to Sex & The City, predominently on women's fashion, but also on menswear (Gatsby, Wolfe, etc). Thoughts? What would you consider the best? What's the most fun?
     
  2. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    The decadent writers did put a lot of discussion into descriptions of clothing. As well, I've noticed Raymond Chandler stresses clothing as well, calling pocket squares a display handkerchief.

    Of course, there are a fair number of reference tomes on haute couture and its designers, from Chanel to Pierre Balmain to YSL to Charles James.
     
  3. whoopee

    whoopee Well-Known Member

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    Baudelaire, of course.
     
  4. Ed13

    Ed13 Well-Known Member

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    If you are looking for something similar to Gatsby you could try Mr Britling Sees it Through by HG Wells. Written around 1916, it has a section that compares American dress with perceived and actual English country gentleman attire. An interesting novel to read with the historical context of WW1.
     
  5. mack11211

    mack11211 Well-Known Member

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    Dreiser in SISTER CARRIE has some great passages about the emotional experience of shopping, especially in department stores. Greil Marcus even quotes him in LIPSTICK TRACES.
     
  6. Patrick Bateman

    Patrick Bateman Well-Known Member

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    May I humbly suggest American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis?
     
  7. Huntsman

    Huntsman Well-Known Member

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    In Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe series, the sidekick character, Archie Goodwin, places great emphasis on clients' clothing, often judging them on it, and he is a noted clotheshorse. This would probably be in the fun category, rather than those with studious attention to clothes like Wolfe (Tom, that is). A quote I remember, describing a client in a "suit of quiet brown with a faint tan stripe, light tan shirt and green challis four in hand." Regards, Huntsman
     
  8. modsquad

    modsquad Well-Known Member

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    The characters in Balzac's Lost Illusions - young men on the make, every one of them - are obsessed with clothing. The cut of a coat can make or break one in boulevard society, they always buy something new for important evenings, and they are, in the grand tradition, perpetually in debt to their tailors. Brideshead Revisited has a nice passage contrasting the chocolate brown striped suit and suede shoes of the dandy Anthony Blunt (I think that's his name) with the rough tweeds and brogues worn by the other college men, scions of country gentlemen. I'll bet Franny and Zooey has some pointed passages about mens clothing.
     
  9. Lucky Strike

    Lucky Strike Well-Known Member

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    It's Anthony B-B-B-Blanche. There are several theories as to who the actual model for the figure was, but Harold Acton seems to be in the lead.

    [​IMG]

    Edit:

    From: http://www.abbotshill.freeserve.co.u...htm#Brideshead

    EVELYN WAUGH AND BRIAN HOWARD
    Robert Murray Davis (University of Oklahoma)

     
  10. justlurkingthanks

    justlurkingthanks Well-Known Member

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    Of course, Tom Wolfe, whose Bonfire of the Vanities used clothing and brands as signifiers.
     
  11. Baron

    Baron Well-Known Member

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    Kyril Bonfiglioli wrote a series of crime books featuring the semi-autobiographical figure Charlie Mortdecai that have a lot of clever passages pertaining to style.
     
  12. Lucky Strike

    Lucky Strike Well-Known Member

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    Kyril Bonfiglioli wrote a series of crime books featuring the semi-autobiographical figure Charlie Mortdecai that have a lot of clever passages pertaining to style.

    Just read them over Christmas - great fun. Something between Wodehouse, Waugh and Fleming.

    Wodehouse, of course, can also be very good in describing dress and style. He's also very quotable, I have found.
     
  13. Lucky Strike

    Lucky Strike Well-Known Member

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    Ah, just forgot - John O'Hara for the Trad. And Waugh's Vile Bodies and Scoop are possibly even better at dress descriptions - and far funnier - than Brideshead.
     
  14. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    May I humbly suggest American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis?

    May I also suggest Glamorama? (Which is all about the fashion industry)

    Jon.
     
  15. Verb

    Verb Active Member

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    I read alot of F. Scott Fitzgerald and he always tends to embellish both clothing and poise, as well as the way they affect each other. Specifically, This Side of Paradise analyzes the 1920's college student very articulately.
     
  16. Lucky Strike

    Lucky Strike Well-Known Member

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    May I also suggest Glamorama? (Which is all about the fashion industry)

    Jon.


    I agree completely - I find that Am. Psycho mostly just drops the names of fairly well-known tailors and labels, while Glamorama actually describes the dress to a far greater extent. Plus, although I'm thankful for the violence, I find that Glamorama is less grotesque in the violent torture scenes, which actually makes it possible to recommend it to e.g. my very squeamish girlfriend.

    I liked the brief "Ask GQ" discussions the people in the book had, though.

    An added bonus is that Glamorama does not include the annoying (although I do get the point of them) panegyrics about crap eighties pop music. The canonization of Huey Lewis and the News was almost a deal-breaker for me.

    If Am. Psycho is the Trad, Glamorama is the streetwear forum, I suppose.
     
  17. chorse123

    chorse123 Well-Known Member

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    These are great, guys. A few I'd thought about, but many I hadn't.
     
  18. Lucky Strike

    Lucky Strike Well-Known Member

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  19. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    I believe Acton and Waugh engaged in homosexual affairs together in college. Perhaps someone should emulate Ambrose Silk. Anthony Blanche's hair reminds me of Aubrey Beardlsey's coiffure even though Oscar Wilde commented he had "the style but not the substance." [​IMG]
     
  20. Lucky Strike

    Lucky Strike Well-Known Member

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    Has Oscar Wilde's books been mentioned in this thread yet, or is it too obvious?

    Also, http://www.dandyism.net/ gets far too precious for me sometimes, but they're very good with quotes and literary reference.

    BTW: Was the Amazon/SF library completely lost in the crash?
     

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