Clothing in Literature

Discussion in 'Entertainment, Culture, and Sports' started by Manton, Nov 14, 2004.

  1. jasonpraxis

    jasonpraxis Well-Known Member

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    There's a reference in Ellis' The Rules of Attraction to "weird classics majors," the same group who Tartt based her novel on. I haven't read The Secret History in some time, so I'm not sure if there's a reciprocal mention. If so it would likely be Sean Bateman. Didn't GQ run a "clothing in literature" page under Art Cooper's stewardship? I think I remember seeing something a few years ago...
     


  2. Dewey

    Dewey Senior member

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    I found this old thread in the archive. I was going to ask much the same question and recommend this short story: I often think of Nikolai Gogol's "The Overcoat." It's basically the story of an obscure man who wears out one coat and buys another. This is the part when he tries on the new coat for the first time:
    Taking out the cloak, [the tailor Petrovitch] gazed proudly at it, held it up with both hands, and flung it skilfully over the shoulders of Akakiy Akakievitch. Then he pulled it and fitted it down behind with his hand, and he draped it around Akakiy Akakievitch without buttoning it. Akakiy Akakievitch, like an experienced man, wished to try the sleeves. Petrovitch helped him on with them, and it turned out that the sleeves were satisfactory also. In short, the cloak appeared to be perfect, and most seasonable. Petrovitch did not neglect to observe that it was only because he lived in a narrow street, and had no signboard, and had known Akakiy Akakievitch so long, that he had made it so cheaply; but that if he had been in business on the Nevsky Prospect, he would have charged seventy-five rubles for the making alone. Akakiy Akakievitch did not care to argue this point with Petrovitch. He paid him, thanked him, and set out at once in his new cloak for the department. Petrovitch followed him, and, pausing in the street, gazed long at the cloak in the distance, after which he went to one side expressly to run through a crooked alley, and emerge again into the street beyond to gaze once more upon the cloak from another point, namely, directly in front.​
    There's much more to the story, of course, and rather than spoil it for those who have not read it, I'll just say that the story has haunted me for twentysome years.
     


  3. Tangfastic

    Tangfastic Senior member

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    I remember being shocked reading one of Anne Rice's vampire books to find she dressed one of her vampire characters in a polo / roll neck jumper and described it as really elegant. This jarred with me, and struck me as the author getting it 'wrong' probably due to my personal (irrational) dislike of polo necks. I can't remember the details, but it pricked the bubble of my mental image.
     


  4. RJman

    RJman Posse Member Dubiously Honored

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    Dorian by Will Self has some interesting sartorial moments.

    The Untouchable by John Banville has an interesting description of the ur-British garments of an outed British KGB mole.

    I understand Jackie Collins and Sidney Sheldon have some nice descriptions of clothing in their work.
     


  5. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    Raymond Chandler often has descriptions of the characters' attire.

    I distinctly remember Eddie Mars had a pinseal wallet with gold corners, and in The Big Sleep, there was a flamboyant character in a jacket with golfball buttons.
     


  6. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    and in The Big Sleep, there was a flamboyant character in a jacket with golfball buttons.

    Moose Molloy, in Farewell, My Lovely.
     


  7. mack11211

    mack11211 Senior member

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    Nearly on topic...

    Dreiser's Sister Carrie has great passages about the psychology of department store shopping in Chicago.
     


  8. shoreman1782

    shoreman1782 Senior member

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    Augie March has a few poetic passages when Augie is (IIRC) working for a clothing/outdoor merchant.
     


  9. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    OMFG talk about resurrection!

    Jon.
     


  10. denimdestroyedmylife

    denimdestroyedmylife Big Winner

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    I like thomas mann. In terms of asthetics, my favorite period/location would be central europe/italy in the first 25 years or so of the 20th century. so mann's writtings have a great interst for me in terms of clothing.
    Yes! Mann seems very interested in a character's attire; in Magic Mountain, a character's attire often seemed to contrast with his personality (I am thinking of Settembrini here) and often it is used to indicate whether the character is an insider or outsider (wearing a hat outdoors or not, in this case). The first thing that came to mind was Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther; I cannot see a gentleman wearing a blue frock and yellow waistcoat without thinking of the novel; to be honest, I have never seen this in the field. The second novel to come to mind is Gibson's Pattern Recognition; the BR MA-1, the stealthed black 501s; CPUs!
     


  11. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    Although it is by no means a "clothes" book, I always liked the end of Owen Wister's classic The Virginian (so many elements of which immediately turned into cliches of Western fiction and cinema): The eponymous hero, erstwhile cowpuncher and gunfighter, turns into a clotheshorse and bespoke fan ("And no ready-made guy, either," he describes himself.) When he and his schoolmarm bride return to her native Vermont, he is wearing a bespoke tweed suit of "better than average cut."
     


  12. Baron

    Baron Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    In Don't Point That Thing at Me by Kyril Bonfiglioli, the narrator, Charlie Mortdecai, spends much of the book admiring his own good taste. This includes his bespoke shoes (Lobb) and his various bespoke suits (no tailor specified). He's also very fond of good port, brandy and scotch and he collects and sells fine art.
     


  13. TheIdler

    TheIdler Senior member

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    I love the moments in the Bertie Wooster/Jeeves stories when the knowing butler gently guides the gentleman to the correct choice of tie or jacket or pale buttercup-colored socks.
     


  14. RJman

    RJman Posse Member Dubiously Honored

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    Has Teh Tailor of Panama been mentioned?
     


  15. GQgeek

    GQgeek Senior member

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    Has Teh Tailor of Panama been mentioned?

    Is that a book? :p
     


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