It would be unfair to ignore the role that style has played in literature. Whether we choose or not to latch on to the snippets of information carefully fed to us throughout a novel, or believe that our choice of clothing simply acts as a visual extension of ourselves, we can at least understand that style is an imperative tool in helping us to define and visualise a character.
There are, of course, the obvious standouts: Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's, who observes that "you can always tell what kind of a person a man thinks you are by the earrings he gives you", and Elizabeth in Jane Eyre, who, in a wonderful moment of utter defiance, arrives at her neighbour's house covered in mud because she chose to walk instead of taking a carriage.
And who could forget the haunting image of Ophelia, described beautifully as "Lying, robed in snowy white, that loosely flew to left and right"? Her choice of dress is a symbol of innocence and purity that would eventually lead her to her fate.
Conversely, the tragic Anna Karenina chooses to wear black, a colour that later becomes a symbol of her sorrow, rejection and eventual suicide. Despite this, her friend Kitty chooses to remark on her beauty: "Seeing her now in black, she felt that she had never realised all her charm. She saw her now in a new and quite unexpected light and realised that Anna could not have worn lilac, and that her charm lay precisely in that fact".
In Ian McEwan's novel Atonement, he describes the young Cecilia Tallis preparing for a party, somehow avoiding the usual clichés involved with the ritual: "Above all she wanted to look as though she had not given the matter a moment's thought, and that would take time." Ironically, the dress finally chosen, "a figure hugging dark green bias-cut backless evening gown with a halter neck", would be central to the tragic events that follow.
I can't ignore The Great Gatsby. You would have had to have been living under a rock to have missed all the buzz about Baz Luhrmann's forthcoming 3D adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald's novel. Leonardo DiCaprio (who else?) will play the lead, Jay Gatsby, while the lovely Carey Mulligan will portray Daisy Buchanan, the attractive if rather shallow manipulative Jazz Age socialite, in a golden era of affluence. It's hard to go wrong with such a spectacle, but we want Carey to make this her own, as for once it isn't DiCaprio all eyes will be on but on the leading lady, and how she has been realised. Part of the reason most of us prefer the book to the adaptation is that, in literature, passion often trumps beauty. Let's hope the film recognises this.
This week's highs and lows
GAULTIER FOR DIET COKE We are obsessed with this video collaboration that involves a makeover by none other than Jean-Paul Gaultier.
OH, LANA! Our love for the singer was short-lived. We couldn’t deal with the excessive pouting for too long without cringing.
HAIR-RAISING Take inspiration from Bobbi Brown’s work on models backstage at Tibi with brushed-up eyebrows.
DOUBLE WHAMMY Kim Kardashian in the front row at Kanye West’s show. Can they please just stick to bad reality TV and rapping?
BABY BOOM What could be cuter than this toddler in a striped Little Marc Jacobs number?