Share 10 Fashion Icons from Novels We Love

10 Fashion Icons from Novels We Love

Kerry Fiallo is a New York native and copywriter at Simon & Schuster. A lifelong voracious reader, she has a particular fondness for ghost stories, history, and anything to do with Mary Shelley, Ada Lovelace, and the Brontë sisters. The only thing she may love more than books is black tea, but they do often go well together. You can find her as she navigates through literature and history on Twitter @ReadingInNYC and on Tumblr.

Reading is, admittedly, not a particularly visual pastime. But occasionally, a character in a novel just jumps off the page and embeds itself in pop culture. What often makes these characters so indelible is their memorable fashion sense. After all, British writer Virginia Woolf once declared that clothes have “more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.” That rings true for fictional characters, too. Below are several of my favorite novels with highly stylish characters who have influenced readers’ own closets.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson
Along with giving the mystery genre a breath of fresh air, Lisbeth Salander also reinvigorated punk fashion for the twenty-first century. From her pale face and dyed black hair to her multiple piercings and propensity for leather, Lisbeth is an icon for anyone who loves strong women who just happen to be able to help solve decades-old crimes. Suspenseful and gripping, this novel and its heroine will sink their teeth into you.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Stieg Larsson

Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist, and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander team up to investigate the 40 year disappearance of Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families. Stieg Larsson's THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.

MENTIONED IN:

10 Fashion Icons from Novels We Love

By Kerry Fiallo | August 2, 2018

A Peek Behind Sarah Jane’s Shelf

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 22, 2018

Best Beach Reads: 14 (Extra) Long Books for (Extra) Long Days at the Beach

By Kerry Fiallo | July 3, 2017

11 Authors Whose Legacies Live On

By Amy Hendricks | May 19, 2016

Girl Crazy: 15 Literary Ladies You’ll Want to Know

By Aimee Boyer | March 29, 2016

11 Binge-Worthy Literary Series

By Emma Volk | August 27, 2015

Close

Breakfast at Tiffany's
by Truman Capote
Has any character done more for women's fashion than Holly Golightly. . . and with just one dress? Audrey Hepburn may have personified Holly with her movie portrayal, but it's in Truman Capote's novella that we first meet her wearing "a slim cool black dress, black sandals, a pearl choker." The fascinating and wistful story of a call girl and the bemused man who befriends her, BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S is a masterpiece.
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Truman Capote

MENTIONED IN:

10 Fashion Icons from Novels We Love

By Kerry Fiallo | August 2, 2018

While the Cat’s Away: 13 Books About Our Favorite Felines

By Off the Shelf Staff | January 28, 2016

Close

Casino Royale
by Ian Fleming
There's an aphorism that claims "A well-tailored suit is to women what lingerie is to men," and no man wears a suit better than 007. When James Bond first appeared in 1953's CASINO ROYALE, assigned to confront the villainous Le Chiffre in a high-stakes poker game, menswear became a crucial character trait. A tense, breathless novel of duplicity and blackmail, it will make you want your own bespoke suit.
Casino Royale
Ian Fleming

In the novel that introduced James Bond to the world, Ian Fleming’s agent 007 is dispatched to a French casino in Royale-les-Eaux. His mission? Bankrupt a ruthless Russian agent who’s been on a bad luck streak at the baccarat table.

MENTIONED IN:

10 Fashion Icons from Novels We Love

By Kerry Fiallo | August 2, 2018

23 Thrilling Novels from the Bookshelf of Linwood Barclay

By Linwood Barclay | December 29, 2016

11 Authors Whose Legacies Live On

By Amy Hendricks | May 19, 2016

The 5 Sexiest Book-Based Leading Men

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 5, 2014

Close

The Devil Wears Prada
by Lauren Weisberger
Say the phrase "boss from hell" to someone and it's pretty much guaranteed that they'll think of Miranda Priestly. With her signature white Hermès scarf and calculating manner, Miranda is a fabulous villain. A fun and frothy novel for anyone who's been the office gopher, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA unveils the darker side of the glitz and glamor of the fashion industry.

Read the full review of THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA.

The Devil Wears Prada
Lauren Weisberger

Lauren Weisberger’s bestselling novel was a higher-profile literary work than Bushnell’s Sex and the City, and the movie version a closer adaptation. But what an adaptation it is: the book set the bar high, it was smart and fun, but the movie was a romp that brought romantic comedy to new heights. Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, and Stanley Tucci all created unforgettable characters, but Meryl Streep’s performance as the Prada-wearing devil herself, Miranda Priestly, is one for the ages.

Close

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
How often does fashion help foment revolution? In the Hunger Games series, the breathtaking and remarkable designs by Katniss's stylist, Cinna, do just that, from her Girl on Fire dress to her Mockingjay uniform. And with his own effortless and subdued style—except for his enviable gold eyeliner—Cinna is a major reason why this tale of post-apocalyptic corruption and the struggle to survive is so memorable.
The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games," a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

MENTIONED IN:

10 Fashion Icons from Novels We Love

By Kerry Fiallo | August 2, 2018

10 Favorites from the Founder of PopSugar

By Lisa Sugar | October 3, 2016

Marshmallows, Take Note: 5 Books for Fans of Veronica Mars

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 18, 2014

Close

American Psycho
by Bret Easton Ellis
Patrick Bateman may or may not be a bloodthirsty serial killer, but he is a sartorial icon. Fond of interrupting his disturbing stream-of-consciousness rants with descriptions of his Valentino suits and Louis Vuitton accessories, Patrick's expensive fashion sense is as memorable as his violence. An ambiguous and shocking depiction of capitalism, 1980s New York, and insanity, AMERICAN PSYCHO will haunt you long after you finish it.
American Psycho
Bret Easton Ellis

Straight Off the Shelf: 8 Narrators Who Redefine Crazy

Call them unreliable, odd, or downright nuts: there’s nothing more addictive than being behind the wheel with a protagonist who’s not entirely there. You might not want to be their friend, but these eight books feature narrators who you’d be crazy to miss.

MENTIONED IN:

10 Fashion Icons from Novels We Love

By Kerry Fiallo | August 2, 2018

Off the Shelf’s 15 Favorite Book Lists from 2016

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 15, 2016

Close

To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
There's no tomboy more beloved than Scout Finch. With skinned knees, overalls, and a deep hatred of dresses, Scout's personal style is a striking aspect of this beloved narrator. In this coming-of-age tale of racial injustice and loss of innocence, Scout offers her uniquely original perspective and demonstrates how your childhood can thoroughly affect the rest of your life.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee

Wendy’s Fictional Dinner Party Guest: Atticus Finch

Perhaps it’s a cliché to want to have dinner with Atticus Finch—lawyer, father, all-around good man. Atticus is known for his conscience, grace, compassion, and morality. I suspect that his words would be full of insight and wisdom, and challenge me to sit straighter in my chair.

MENTIONED IN:

10 Fashion Icons from Novels We Love

By Kerry Fiallo | August 2, 2018

The Mother-Load: 14 Books Our Moms Love and Recommend

By Off the Shelf Staff | May 8, 2018

10 Literary Names for the Baby Name Obsessed

By Taylor Noel | October 10, 2017

8 Really Great Books We’ve Lied About Reading (Sorry)

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 17, 2017

13 High School Classics Worth Rereading

By Julianna Haubner | April 18, 2017

15 Fictional Characters We Want to Invite to Our Next Dinner Party

By Off the Shelf Staff | January 10, 2017

Close

The Vampire Lestat
by Anne Rice
For horror fans that prefer their supernatural creatures immaculately dressed, there's Anne Rice's famous vampire. In the novel depicting his long life from French nobleman to roguish vampire, you follow along on his many adventures and discover the dark world of the undead. . . but get ready for Lestat to repeatedly inform you how fabulous he looks.
The Vampire Lestat
Anne Rice

MENTIONED IN:

10 Fashion Icons from Novels We Love

By Kerry Fiallo | August 2, 2018

Close

Luckiest Girl Alive
by Jessica Knoll
How does a young woman not only survive but thrive in modern-day Manhattan? If you're Ani FaNelli in LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE, you maintain the illusion of a perfect life. From expensive restaurants to the highest of fashion, Ani clothes herself in a persona to hide from a traumatic experience in her past. Will it all unravel or can she maintain her "perfect" life—and at what cost?

Read the full review of LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE.

Luckiest Girl Alive
Jessica Knoll

Ani FaNelli is the epitome of young, modern women. And that’s not a good thing. Image-obsessed, cruel, and deceptive, Ani isn’t crazy so much as extraordinarily damaged from two traumatic high school events that are expertly revealed, piece by piece, in this masterful debut. I loved the anger in this political, well-observed novel, made more powerful by the reveal that Knoll’s own sexual assault contributed to its creation. Contemporary and timely: believe the hype.

Crazy like: Carrie Bradshaw with a cleaver.

Best crazy moment: Ani’s choice of porn. (Ouch.)

MENTIONED IN:

Good Things Come in Small Packages

By One.More.Page | September 28, 2018

10 Fashion Icons from Novels We Love

By Kerry Fiallo | August 2, 2018

15 Outstanding Novels from Authors with New Books On the Way

By Taylor Noel | May 14, 2018

8 Favorites Your Book Club Must Read This Spring

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 20, 2018

The 5 Best Books I Read Last Month

By Nikki Barnhart | March 14, 2018

15 Books to Read if You’re Obsessed with BIG LITTLE LIES

By Taylor Noel | February 5, 2018

Close

It
by Stephen King
There has never been a supernatural villain with a look more iconic than Pennywise the Dancing Clown. With his silver suit, red pom-poms, and sharp-toothed grin, Pennywise has inspired countless nightmares and Halloween costumes (and possibly that rash of clown sightings in 2016). In Stephen King's masterpiece of modern horror, he haunts a group of children (and later as adults) in a deadly game of good versus evil.
It
Stephen King

For fans of “Stranger Things”

Teeming with the best kind of ‘80s nostalgia, the perfect follow-up read to this summer’s Netflix hit “Stranger Things” is Stephen King’s classic thriller IT. Seven adults are forced to revisit the horrors they once experienced when they were teens, battling an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. With the town’s terrible history repeating, they must once again face the evil monster.

MENTIONED IN:

10 Fashion Icons from Novels We Love

By Kerry Fiallo | August 2, 2018

13 Books We’re Excited to Give This Holiday Season

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 27, 2017

Best Beach Reads: 14 (Extra) Long Books for (Extra) Long Days at the Beach

By Kerry Fiallo | July 3, 2017

15 Fictional Characters We Want to Invite to Our Next Dinner Party

By Off the Shelf Staff | January 10, 2017

14 Book Recommendations Based On Your Favorite TV Shows

By Tolani Osan | October 24, 2016

17 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Stephen King Books

By Sarah Jane Abbott | October 16, 2014

Close

Thank you for joining our email list!

If you create an Off the Shelf account, you'll be able to save books to your personal bookshelf, and be eligible for free books and other good stuff.

Click here to create your free account.

You must be logged in to add books to your shelf.

Please log in or sign up now.