Ready for the ball?

Zohra Shahana discusses fashion in literature, and how to achieve a luxurious winter look

According to George Orwell’s  The Road To Wigan Pier, “you may have three halfpence in your pocket and not a prospect in the world… but in your new clothes you can stand on a street corner, indulging in a private daydream of yourself as Clark Gable or Greta Garbo.” “Clothes,” Virginia Woolf tells us in Orlando, have “more important offices than merely to keep us warm; they change our view of the world and the world’s view of us”.

These renowned novelists are style icons; they have penned some of the most influential words regarding fashion in literature.Think of Jay Gatsby, standing outside his darkening mansion in a “gorgeous pink rag of a suit”; Anna Karenina at a ball, elegant in velvet, Venetian lace and a garland of pansies; Holly Golightly, effortlessly chic in dark glasses, “a slim cool black dress, black sandals, a pearl choker”.  These are all images conjured up by timeless literary works, imagery that will stay with you, long after reading their words.

Here’s how I’d piece together some looks from your favourite, timeless classics and channel your inner bookworm through style, try out a look at an upcoming event, or maybe even that  Winter Ball which is coming by very soon.

To release your inner Gatsby, piece a sequined dress with a throw, to channel those 1920s style vibes. Accessorise with a sequined or pearl-covered purse.

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Miss Selfridge Nude Boudica Maxi £84

For men, you cannot go wrong with a sharp crisp suit. Think clean colours, salmon pinks and bright whites to carry that classy ensemble. Ties and pocketsquares are a place to have fun, by teaming clashing and complimentary pattterns.


ASOS Noose & Monkey Tuxedo Suit Jacket £140

You might not identify with Golightly and her American Geisha vibes but there’s no doubt – the girl knew how to dress. Keep it effortlessly cool with a striking dress and let the embellishments do the talking.

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Miss Selfridge Paisley 90’s Neck Maxi Dress £10

Want to step back in time without looking old-fashioned? Thinking Anna Karenina? With capped sleeves, a modest approach and old fashion embroidery, you will be the belle of the ball in this dress.

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Miss Selfridge Leafy Maxi Dress £108

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