Clothbound: Fashion in Literature
David Bradford is a poet and editor based in Tiohtià:ke (Montréal), and the Associate Coordinator, Programming and Communications, at Blue Metropolis. His work has appeared in The Capilano Review, Prairie Fire, Vallum, Tiny Mag, Carte Blanche and elsewhere. His first book, Dream of No One but Myself, is forthcoming from Brick Books.
“The apparel oft proclaims the man,” mused which character in Shakespeare’s Hamlet?
In Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, what kind of necklace does Holly Golightly wear to top off her “slim, cool black dress”?
Before what age is it tacky to wear diamonds, according to Truman Capote’s Holly Golightly?
Where does Cinderella get her magical dress in the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales version of Cinderella?
What should socks and ties never match, according to American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman?
Which Colette work advised against “artistic jewelry,” claiming “it wrecks a woman’s reputation”?
In Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, what does Kitty wear around her neck, “to particular gentle effect,” to complete her famous pink and white ball gown?
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, which garments of Gatsby’s make Daisy cry when she sees them all together?
Which of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend characters famously takes up designing men’s shoes in her father’s shop?
In Oscar Wilde’s A Portrait of Dorian Gray, which century’s clothing does Lord Henry dismiss as “so sombre, so depressing,” and ultimately “detestable”?
Which “form of ugliness” did Oscar Wilde once declare, from the artistic point of view, “so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months”?
What “soft” and “violent” item of clothing did Pablo Neruda famously write an ode to?
Source. Hamlet, William Shakespeare, Act I, Scene III.
Answer: Pearls, a pearl choker.
Source. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012, p. 6.
Source. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012, p. 33.
Answer: from a tree—specifically a hazel tree, become her wishing tree, planted over her mother’s grave.
Source. Grimm’s Household Tales: With Author’s Notes, Volume 1, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, translated by Mrs. Alfred William Hunt, G. Bells and Sons, 1884, p. 97
Answer: a waiscoast, or a vest.
Source. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010, p. 126
Source. Gigi and The Cat, Colette, translated by Antonia White, Random House, 2011, p. 36
Answer: a black velvet ribbon.
Source. Anna Karenina, Oxford World’s Classics, Leo Tolstoy, translated by Rosamund Bartlett, Oxford University Press, 2016, p. 79
Answer: his shirts.
Source. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Penguin Classics, 2006
Source. My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein, Europa Editions, 2020.
Answer: the 19th century.
Source. The Portrait of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde, Bernard Tauschnitz, 1908, p. 42
Answer: fashion. Source. Oscar Wilde, The Philosophy of Dress, New York Tribune, 1885, p. 9