6th August 2022

The literary icons to read

(and channel) this summer

From figures who focused on streams of consciousness to those who aligned with socio-political movements, take a lesson (literary or style) from one of these writers…

Reading is a vital part of a stimulating lifestyle – and there’s no better moment to embrace it than during a summer holiday. Without the pressure of work deadlines and social schedules, a vacation is the perfect moment to switch off your notifications and really delve into a good book. If you’re anything like us, the book for your upcoming trip is likely going to be a classic, because it’s only natural that your literary taste aligns with your clothing.

Now, while we do take great pleasure and lessons from reading the classics, one thing often goes a bit unnoticed: the style lessons to also take from the writers who composed them. Because boy, did they dress well – especially when accommodating the warmer seasons. So ahead of your upcoming getaway, here’s five of our favourite modern authors who dressed as sharp as their novels. And with that in mind, and a little recommendation for which text of theirs to have in hand.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

First up, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Widely credited as the writer who brought a flamboyant post-war society to global attention, his personal style was a little more subdued but equally elegant. Take this tailored ensemble. His Breton striped shirt partnered with a single breasted blazer and leather loafers is a failsafe port of call for any city getaway, because they work perfectly together in tandem, but so too can be worn as separates depending on your outing of choice. To the beach, for example, the Breton shirt is a brilliant piece to throw on over short shorts after a swim (and a good way to nod to the French Riviera style of his most sun-drenched novel).

The book to read:

Tender Is the Night

James Baldwin

Renowned for his stance in addressing racial and sexual politics, James Baldwin was (and still is) one of the most intellectual literary voices for cultural change. No surprise that intellect extended to his personal style too: specifically, through sharp yet lightweight essentials combined with exuberant accessories. For your upcoming trip, we suggest following suit in this relaxed off-white look: a short sleeve cotton shirt (just a little unbuttoned) along with wide breathable trousers. Very simple, very practical, and very effective – especially when based with leather boots (if the weather permits it).

The book to read:

Another Country

Jack Kerouac

If your style game tends to revolve around more casual, workwear pieces, your top literary reference for summer is a no brainer: Jack Kerouac. As the man who brought authentic appeal to life on the road (for better or worse), the Beat Generation icon centred his wardrobe around practical yet powerful pieces: proven here through his pairing of a white tee and short gingham printed shirt. The former is a failsafe for any holiday attire, whether paired with high waisted shorts by day or tailored trousers by night. As for the latter? The classic check is a smart way to throw a sophisticated touch of print into your suitcase. Wear the two pieces together à la Kerouac for maximum effect.

The book to read:

Big Sur

J.D. Salinger

Despite being buried in a stream of consciousness when writing his novels, J. D. Salinger’s style game was still incredibly sharp – and the biggest credit for this goes to his collection of classic shirts. Few things accommodate all weathers and dress codes more than a breathable, button down shirt, and the key to making it work on vacation is all in the relaxed way of wearing it. As demonstrated by Salinger here, leave the collar a little open and roll up the sleeves for an insouciant stance which certainly won’t go unnoticed.

The book to read:

The Catcher in the Rye

William S. Burroughs

Last (but quite the opposite to least): Mr William S. Burroughs. Arguably the most pioneering postmodern author, so too do we dub him the most stylish literary sensation of the past century. Why? Because Burroughs’ wardrobe was built on the basis of one fine sector: tailoring. Prioritising sharp, slim-cut suits with exaggerated details (note the big size of his notch lapels here), this is the writer to channel for all sartorial needs this vacation season. If a similar beige suit sits in your wardrobe, we suggest packing it stat, along with a slim-brimmed fedora hat for that perfect seasonal finish.

The book to read:

Naked Lunch

Words by Faye Fearon