Elizabeth Taylor in the film adaptation of Butterfield 8instagram/cadillackween

Stuck in our rooms, watching Netflix all day and waiting for the faculties to reach a decision about our future, our choice of outfits is most likely to be the least of our concerns. Yet, especially in these trying times, in which social-distancing and isolation are the primary measures to be taken for our health, self-care should be our priority. For some this may include cooking complex meals, taking long baths or keeping a productive schedule in order to maintain a sense of normality. Meanwhile, for others, this may be thinking about our fashion and recovering a feeling of enthusiasm for the day that that may be lost through our reduced social interactions.

Social media is likely to become a large part of our routines, allowing us to keep in touch with friends from university, or even from home, who we cannot see in real life. Yet, with the increased exposure to the internet and time spent on social media networks, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram to be inspired for fashion can quickly become boring, and perhaps even detrimental. To escape from the bombardment of images whilst fostering your creativity, I've compiled a list of five books (and films) to inspire you to change out of your loungewear and find joy in fashion whilst staying well.

The Devil Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger

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Most of us have seen the movie, starring Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep as the iconic, antagonistic duo. Yet, with more time on our hands than the two hours needed to immerse ourselves in the New York fashion drama, why not commit to picking up the novel by Lauren Weisberger, that the screenplay is based on. With references to a walk-in closet filled with Chanel, a description of iconic make-over scenes and a trip to Paris Fashion Week, the desire to reinterpret your closet after reading this book is inevitable.

The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

Written during the height of the Aesthetic Movement, The Picture of Dorian Gray will give you the desire to discover fabrics from foreign countries, whilst bathing in a basin of perfume, surrounded by exotic flowers. The eerie story of moral decay is clothed by the desire for beauty, both in body and in clothing. If reading this book makes you as obsessed with Wilde as I am, I’d recommend delving further into his life by reading The Selected Letters of Oscar Wilde, for more witty comments and discussions about what to wear, what to write and other social commentaries.

The House of Mirth - Edith Wharton

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Edith Wharton’s 1905 novel is a tragic socialite story, focused on a young woman, Lily Bart. Despite methodically engaging in the high-society circles of New York City, her inability to choose a husband despite her popularity among men leads her down a dark path. Besides being an enticing read, this novel incites the desire to dress right and sit in a mysterious bar in New York City at the turn of the century. 

Any Jane Austen Novel

If the 20th century New York theme of this list does not appeal to you, any Jane Austen novel inspires me to get myself fully dressed and ready to attend a 'proper tea-time' with Elizabeth Bennet, Catherine Morland and Co. Austen books remind us that it is completely acceptable to get fully dressed up in a suit or dress without leaving the house. In fact, if anyone showed us that self-isolation can be endured, it is most likely Jane Austen.


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Butterfield 8 - John O'Hara

Following Gloria Wandrous, this novel is set in 1931 New York. We follow the mess created by Gloria’s affair and are confronted with the reality of her socialite circle of friends and mysterious life in the dark side of New York society. This book incites a craving to dress yourself in the old-film star chic, encouraging you to view your closet through the lens of another decade. If you are already stuck alone in your room, why not break out of your comfort zone and be your own Gloria Wondrous (or Weston Liggett for that matter)?

Loungewear, but make it New York socialite approvedinstagram/_dameelizabethtaylor

Additionally, after losing yourself in the New York of O’Hara, treat yourself with the movie starring Elizabeth Taylor for more outfit envy and a sparked desire to dress yourself in your most Hollywood worthy clothes (especially the slip-dress and fur jacket combo, that will improve your solitary Netflix binges).

Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

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For a gory view on fashion and decay, look no further than Great Expectations. The classic gives a fantastic and visceral perspective on the timelessness of fashion through Miss Havisham, who seems to be taking the idea of re-wearing outfits to the next level, and whose existence perfectly describes how we might feel after the fifth day of self-isolation. Perhaps not so much a book to make you feel inspired to dress up in a decade-old wedding dress, it offers intricate descriptions of fashion in the context of the 19th Century mercantile London and countryside and may inspire you to change clothes once in a while.

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