Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Literary Fashion: Another Part

I have a habit of dressing like characters, especially those in books. This is an old quirk that finds its roots in the 'phases' of my childhood and adolescence—I often wanted to be more like those favorite characters and have funny little characteristics like they had, if not those exact quirks—that are more or less visible in my manner of dress these days. I can't kid myself, this is obviously something that exists in my adult tendencies as well. Sometimes, if I am writing some funny little story or doodling the same person over and over, I try to dress and be like them as well! The desire to play dress up will hopefully never fade away, and especially in the last year or so I've noticed a much more directed manner of dressing—that is, specifically dressing as a character. It's the kind of thing that I think I've written all sorts of papers on (I say think only because I'm afraid I'm victim of some strange and noxious pills at the moment, courtesy of my missing wisdom teeth!), the roles individuals play in their clothes, wearing the part, masks, costumes. All that sort of thing. You know, the body as a text and so on. And then, also, I have a perhaps peculiar habit of allotting specific items of clothing or accessories to certain book or film characters.

But I don't really mean this in quite that serious and academic way. Rather, it is just the vague thought that I have certain items of clothing and I assign to specific characters that I have a terrible fondness for.


( I also wear it all the time. Seriously, Sirusly. And that is only as far back as free-flickr lets me go!)

One of my favorites is my Professor Lupin sweater. I'm quite sure that my penchant for funny, frumpy, and fusty sweaters is not solely due to my beloved Harry Potter character, but all the same I've referred to it as such since I bought it. It's a relatively nondescript sweater, from Gap a few years ago during the beginning of that boyfriend-clothing-craze. It is slouchy and light and somewhat poor and worn looking. I wear it often, and while my boyfriend has a sweater that is much more Lupin-ish (it's wool and has suede elbow-patches. Although my sweater does have a slight advantage in the Lupin department because it's dowdy and rumpled). To add to the Lupin-esque attire, my lovely boyfriend got me the most delicious tweed blazer! It is not pictured, but it fits much better than the child's Brooks Brother's one I thrifted. The new version is now my Professor Lupin blazer, and to add to it, I finally found a pair of appropriately worn and soft corduroy pants. Ahh, the outfit! It is quite happily complete, although ideally it would be more a mixture of taupes and the occasional brown, and I can be a content little grey mouse of a girl in my Professor Lupin garb.

There is, of course, the bowler hat and its rather obvious nod to Sabina a la The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Books by Francesca Lia Block also gave way to items of clothing associated with those characters even if I never did seem to acquire anything quite as cool as what they had.

I know there are more, things I searched for specifically to mirror someone, or an item I came across that vaguely reminded me of so-and-so in that book and forever named it for them. To an extent it has to do with an intense desire to be totally absorbed into a certain world of a book or a character, that painful desire to get as close as you can to a world and people who only really exist on the page and in the mind, the terrible unjust nature of fantasy stories and the real world.

Similarly, when I was little I had this funny little outfit (that doesn't really have much of anything to do with the topic of this post besides the activities I wore it for) that I thought of as my Writer's Outfit. The vague outline of the kind of person I was playing was some kind of young traveling woman with a suitcase full of odd things. The suitcase was tweed and it didn't hold together very well since I think its base was cardboard. I used to fill it with old looking books. My two favorites, though I had no idea what they really were at the time, were a book of Emerson's Essays and a collection of Oscar Wilde fairy tales and sonnets. I liked them because they were cloth-bound and looked old. I had a fake feather pen, it was pink, and some other strange odds and ends. The outfit consisted of some kind of hat and a brownish black velvet blazer with buttons shaped like twined rope and a funny little collar. The same blazer doubled for part of my suit when I later pretended to be a member of MIB.

I guess in the end it's all more dressing up than anything else. That, and the funny names I give things in my head, the strange and nonsensical or personal associations with clothing beyond things that are sentimental in a traditional, familial sort of way. What a clunker of a sentence! I've been really bad about it lately. My sentences are long, trawling things that wander around and are atrocious and have little to no grammatical or logical structure. I am not sure that I care! To add to this nonchalant treatment, I refuse to wrap up this rambling thing in any real way. Ha!

42 comments:

  1. I never really dress as book characters, but I'm definitely really influenced by them. There is a feeling that you could be more like the character if you looked more like them.

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  2. I love Francesca Lia Block and wanted so much to dress like Weetzie Bat in high school, but was much too chicken.
    And, I used to wear a black beret every time I would write. It was my Writing Cap.

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  3. Your Lupin-esque look is very lovely and 'bookish'!

    I, too, get my inspiration from literary characters. Although I can hardly afford to dress up as a 19th century heroine nowadays.

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  4. Professor Lupin clothes! Oh my. How shabby-fabulous.

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  5. I think for me too, as for the biggest part of people I suppose, the way I dress come from mental associations. For years, when studying cinema and after, I loved to add a certain lil detail - if not an entire outfit - thinking at the characters I was loving in that period. The funny thing is that people usually don't notice this if they're not really connected to us and our life, so it becomes really personal, like a secret between us and our beloved characters. In the end I think is another way to extend the pleasure for something we like...

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  6. What you wrote and what your wear is so wonderful!

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  7. I know exactly what you mean! I do the same thing, it's so fun to find someone that does this too! yaaay! What you wrote is lovely!

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  8. Ah! You just described my life :) Whenever I start thinking about a story--or a novel I know I'm meant to write starts nagging at the back of my mind I immediately find myself drawing them over and over and they influence my style alot.
    I wrote a story about a financier in the 50s and found myself wearing pencil skirt suits and curling my hair the whole three months I was writing it!

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  9. oh i love it:)
    i always try to dress like alice in wonderland,or any other book tahht influences me:)
    x

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  10. Great outfit! I would do the same thing but I can't ever seem to find any pieces reminiscent of my favorite characters

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  11. I strongly, STRONGLY relate to this entry. To the point where I design clothes based on fictional (and historical) characters. I had a conversation about exactly this phenomenon with a friend the other day, where I assumed everyone did it, and was surprised when she didn't know what I was talking about.

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  12. Wow I love this outfit and the Lupin theme!

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  13. This must be my favourite blog post ever, you described everything so well and I totally relate to dressing (up) like characters from books! It's so different from being inspired by films or musicians because you are able to really "live" something that is different to everyone, you create the visual image of a character and thus your very own interpretation. And thus the book becomes alive, just a little bit.
    I love doing that. And I adore the Lupin look, he's one of my favourite characters of all time and I keep thinking of him when I wear my brother's jumpers!

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  14. That grey cardigan is one of my faves of your pieces. You style it so well.

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  15. i found that grey cardigan from gap in black at a goodwill last year! i loooove it. the fit is excellent.

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  16. Oh my gosh, how fabulous!! I now want a Lupin sweater too!! The post below this is wonderful, as well - I love reading a really inspiring poem or 'meeting' a singular character in a novel and keeping them in mind when I dress up! Right now, it's Anne of Green Gables and the Lady of Shalott! xx

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  17. I love your outfit! Dressing up is so much fun :)

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  18. Your rambling was a delightful read. I always feel as if my clothes have personalities too. I love the idea of dressing like characters, but I only fully devote to a look once in a blue moon.

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  19. I used to buy sweaters solely on their Professor Lupin factor! I completely relate. Awesome, awesome outfit as well. :)

    http://megsue.snailbird.com

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  20. I'm a big fan of dressing up, although I think I create characters more than try to dress like them.

    Also, you have such old-fashioned good looks!

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  21. You have a Professor Lupin sweater! I know what i'm going thrifting for next, you've inspired me!
    But in terms of alotting different clothing to different fictional chacters, i do the same thing. In the same way my current favourite clothing items always reflect what ever book/film/tv character i'm currently obsessed with. I still keep a blue night gown from when i was younger despite long ago outgrowing it. It was my "Wendy" nighty, and I always hoped when i wore it that Peter Pan would appear during the night and we would fly out my window, escaping to never never land :)

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  22. This is probably one of my favourite outfits from you!

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  23. So much love! I've been doing the same thing I think since I was 17. Witch Baby was a look that lasted a good while XD I think 90% of the time I have a literary reference for what I'm wearing, at least when I go out. Lately it's been The Doctor meets Beatrix Potter & Holly Golightly as an Indian Princess :D

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  24. Wow, I do exactly the same thing. I spent about three years dressing like Wednesday Adams. I still fall into it from time to time. But yes I do exactly the same thing. And really it is just dressing to please yourself, which is the most important thing!

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  25. Lovely post! Professor Lupin is a wonderful inspiration, and you've made me think more about my own literary inspirations.

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  26. AHH! Okay- I LOVE that you do this too! That pretty much perfectly summed up the kind of inspiration that I take from books and movies. (Yay HP and Francesca Lia Block!) It's so fun to do and then you feel kind of secretive because you're wearing something that's significant to only you.

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  27. Ohh wow, that's awesome. I can't admit to it being something I do on a daily basis (though it could be said that I dress like any number of fictional grandmothers :P), I really love dressing up as a character for Halloween or a party.

    I also totally want a Lupin sweater now!

    xxx

    http://bee-spiffy.blogspot.com/

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  28. Loveliness.

    May I draw a portrait of you?

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  29. Your style is so sweet. I love it & I like your blog. I am definitely following your blog :)

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  30. You look gorgeous, so classy! So Lupin-esque :)

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  31. I have noticed the same thing about myself when it comes to wanting to enjoy what characters were eating, ate regularly, or what they craved.
    For example, Harriet the Spy made me want tomato sandwiches, The Chronicles of Narnia made me want to try Turkish Delight and A Wrinkle in Time always, always made me want hot chocolate.
    I once read an annoying little piece of literary critique that actually railed against the detail that some authors would devote to their descriptions of eating and drinking. Imagine! In my opinion, it is the smells of things cooking or rotting and the sights of things worn or on the horizon that make books so much more exciting and engaging.
    To fill your characters bellies with great food and to dress them in lovely or inspiring clothes is part of the author's job-- how else does one create a world?
    What would Sherlock Holmes be without a hat and a pipe? What is Dickens without tables groaning under the weight of food?
    It is all so necessary, so exciting and so inspiring! Small but integral parts of the great work that writing entails.
    I loved this post! Thank you for sharing.
    xoxo
    T
    http://thriftonista.blogspot.com

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  32. omg i love you even more after reading this post, I wish I were creative enough to imitate my favorite book characters! always loved lupin as well, now my bf cardi will forever be a lupin sweater hehe :)

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  33. Hey, you're tagged! Write 10 random things about yourself and tag 7 other people!

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  34. smart outfit! especially since you explained the inspiration and background. :)

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  35. The Writer Outfit really speaks to me - sounds like we have similar states of thought and whimsy :)

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  36. I LOVE that you were inspired by Lupin. He is one of my favourite characters.

    Will you replace the link for Snazzy with my new blog? Thanks.

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  37. I just found you and this post instantly rocketed you to the top of my favorite blogs. :)

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