The Literary Gentleman

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I really enjoyed writing Fine Art, (which, wow, was already a full year ago) so I have been thinking about doing another. We’ll call this a spin-off.

As it turns out, matching style to literary eras, is a lot trickier than art. Art comes with colors and shapes and things you see in clothing. Literature…does not. So the resulting piece is a little bit about the style of the , a little bit about the style of the writing, and a little bit about the flavor of the authors…I hope.

The Lost Generation – World War I 

The most recent of the three eras I’m going to touch on, the Lost Generation is marked by notable figures like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and T.S. Eliot. The phrase supposedly comes from Gertrude Stein telling Hemingway the following, “That is what you are. That’s what you all are … all of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation.”

Wartime and the experiences there are fundamental to the Lost Generation aesthetic, as is the rejection of wealth. Think Great Gatsby – the moral, not the man.

Wear: Tight Short-Sleeved Button-ups, Suspenders, Khakis, Cuffed Jeans, and Coats with Sheepskin Collars.

Lit Gent

The Victorian Era – 1837-1901

Ah, the fin de siècle, what a wonderfully weird time in literature and history. Now, we often think of the Victorian Era as very buttoned-up, conservative, and proper, but oh hoho, is that ignoring so much of what was churning below. One of my favorite classes in Uni was called Fin de Siècle: Decadence and Degeneration. That should tell you something. While the visible culture was often quite proper, monsters, faeries, murderers, and debauchery were increasingly popular in books and entertainment.

Wear: Deep Blues and Purples, Crisp Button-ups, Tall-Collared Coats, Subtle Mixed Patterns

litgent

The Romantics – approx. 1770 – 1848

Right up front, we should address the fact that the Romantic Period is my favorite literary period, partly due to my overwhelming love for John Keats. (How many times can I legitimately mention Keats on a fashion blog? We shall see).

The Romantics are in part a rejection of the Industrial Revolution, embracing nature and individuality in a rapidly changing Europe. They were introspective, restless, and extremely emotive writers. They ranged from the elderly William Wordsworth to the, uh, lusty Lord Byron, and their works span a myriad of subjects.

The Romantic’s love of aesthetic and the marrying of awe and horror, results in some of the most purple and rich language and messages informed by true emotion first and foremost.

Wear: Floral Prints, Pastels, Overly-large Wool Coats, Rumpled Suits, Disheveled Hair, Layers

Lit Gent1

Fine Art

In order to make up for my long absence, and also because this is where my mind went, today’s post will be both long and a bit academically involved.

The history of art is marked by distinct styles, not unlike fashion, that take almost total control for awhile before being discarded in favor of the next trend. But the thing is, these periods of art live on, not only in our museums, but in the clothes we wear. Here are five distinct ones:

Gothic – High and Late Medieval Period

Gothic art and architecture is marked by intricate, layered designs, using flying buttresses and pointed arches to support high stone walls and ceilings. Gothic buildings often feel heavy, dark, and a little dangerous. The clothing counterpart is highly structural, layered, and voluminous (not the baggy pants and trench coats that sat in the hallways of your high school).

Wear: Long Wool Coats, Tailored Pants, Pointed Leather Shoes, Leather Driving Gloves

Gothic Period

Rococo – Late Baroque – 18th Century

Rococo took all the grandeur and glitz of the Baroque period and made it more playful. Using lighter colors, asymmetric designs, and fluid curves, Rococo was just as ornate as Baroque, just lighter. The clothing counterparts are light-weight, airy, pastel, and patterned.

Wear: Open Linen Shirts, Pastel Paisley, Gold

Rococo

Impressionism – 19th Century

Impressionism is one of those self-explanatory names, it is art that gives an impression. Rather than painting images with clear details, the Impressionists used pointillism or distinct  brush strokes to capture the essence of a design or image. The clothing counterparts are small prints, complimentary colors, layered patterns.

Wear: Patterned Jackets, Patterned Shirts and Ties, Blues and Purples

Impressionism

Folk Art – Varied

Folk art is, by some definitions, the opposite of “Fine Art”, but work with me on this one. Folk art is art from humble origins, often untrained, and completely based on the culture of the place of its origins. The clothing counterpart is cozy, chunky knits, and casual.

Wear: “Tribal” Prints, Shawl Collars, Sweaters with Jeans

Folk Art

Pop Art – 1950s

Pop Art challenges old artistic traditions by using pop culture and mass media images to create art. It is easily distinguished by the use of bright and neon colors, geometric shapes, and repetition. The clothing counterpart is bright, bold patterns, and sleek lines.

Wear: Bright Colors with Patterns, Converse All-Stars, Slim Silhouettes

Pop Art

Are there any other art movements you’d like to see as clothes?