Absolutely flawless: Meet the most fashionable characters in literature

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Stylist Team
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Fashion in books is important. We'd even be as bold as to say that clothes make a character.

Without her black dress Truman Capote's Holly Golightly wouldn't be an effortlessly chic socialite. In Atonement, Robbie wouldn't have fantasised about Cecelia if she hadn't been wearing that green gown. And there would be no Miss Havisham without a wilted yellow wedding dress, in Dickens' Great Expectations.

Essentially, without these garments, all these characters would be incomplete, as their sartorial preferences means we are able to understand their personalities better, know a little bit about their pasts and what they're thinking.

Here, we've picked some of the ultimate fashionable literary characters.

  • Cecelia, Atonement

    True, the film ultimately showcases the incredible dress that Cecelia wears when she and Robbie make love in the library, but that doesn't mean the words on the page don't do it justice:

    "“How could he forget that green dress, how it clung to the curve of her hips and hampered her running and showed the beauty of her shoulders”

  • Sayuri, Memoirs of a Geisha

    Coming from a poor family, Sayuri (then known as Chiyo) is unused to wearing fancy clothes, and especially not ones as grand as those worn by a geisha, so when she gets the chance to dress up, she really goes for it.

  • Dorian Gray, The Picture of Dorian Gray

    While his soul may be disfigured that doesn't stop this 'Prince Charming' from being elegantly dressed and impressing everyone in his path.

  • Daisy Buchanan, The Great Gatsby

    Other than Gatsby's shirts, there's also another iconic fashion moment in F Scott Fitzgerald's novel in which he describes Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker:

    "They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house."

  • Effie Trinket, The Hunger Games

    Effie has a number of outrageous costumes in The Hunger Games but the one thing that really sticks in our minds is her pink hair.

  • Catherine Earnshaw, Wuthering Heights

    In Emily Brontë's epic love story, we see Cathy undergo a transformation from ragged, tomboy-esque style with Heathcliff to an elegant lady when she stays with the Earnshaws. While her dresses might be fabulous, it's her look with Heathcliff that we love the most.

  • Scarlett O’Hara, Gone with the Wind

    The green curtain gown in Gone With The Wind is as iconic on the page as it is in the film. While Scarlett isn't exactly the nicest or kindest of characters, we can still admire the way she dresses.

    “Her new green flowered-muslin dress spread its twelve yards of billowing material over her hoops and exactly matched the flat-heeled green morocco slippers her father had recently brought her from Atlanta. The dress set off to perfection the seventeen-inch waist, the smallest in three counties, and the tightly fitting basque showed breasts well matured for her sixteen years.”

  • Emma, Emma

    Spoilt Emma, who thinks herself the ultimate matchmaker is fairly clueless when it comes to love. But we still imagine her always impeccably dressed and ready to receive guests.

  • Orlando, Orlando

    Virginia Woolf's novel Orlando explores the themes of sexuality and transgender, and through Orlando's journey, as he changes from a man into a woman, we see her dressing to whichever gender she wants to be. Because of this we get a wide range of costumes to marvel at.

    “Orlando had now washed, and dressed herself in those Turkish coats and trousers which can be worn indifferently by either sex.”

  • Miranda Priestly, The Devil Wears Prada

    Seeing as she is the editor of a high-fashion magazine, Runway, it would be negligent of us not to include Ms. Priestly in our round-up. While we don't imagine she's always head-to-toe Prada, it's probably not far off it.

  • Anna, Anna Karenina

    At the big ball, Anna is dressed in the opposite way to Kitty - in black. She is darker in comparison, and draws the attention of Vronsky. Tolstoy did this as a deliberate literary device, depicting Anna not as the typical femme fatale (in red) but rather as a more considered woman.

  • Meg, Little Women

    Meg is always immaculate as is always chiding her younger sisters to behave like 'little women', so it makes sense that we always imagine her as the best dressed.

  • Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games

    As Katniss is the carer for her whole household and has to take care of not only her little sister, but her mother too, it makes sense that she's in practical gear - ready to go out hunting. Plus, the bow and arrow are great accessories.

  • Miss Havisham, Great Expectations

    OK, you're going to have to stick with us on this but here's why we love Miss Havisham's wedding dress: because it so brilliantly shows her emotions. While it is, in essence, darkly depressing that she still wears her gown from when she was jilted, Dickens uses this to really show the deep emotional scars, all through the medium of fashion.

  • Kitty, Anna Karenina

    Poor Kitty. Despite the fact that she's snubbed by Vronsky, she looks graceful and beautiful in her dress at the big ball.

    "Although her dress, her coiffure, and all the preparations for the ball had cost Kitty great trouble and consideration, at this moment she walked into the ballroom in her elaborate tulle dress over a pink slip as easily and simply as though all the rosettes and lace, all the minute details of her attire, had not cost her or her family a moment’s attention, as though she had been born in that tulle and lace, with her hair done up high on her head, and a rose and two leaves on the top of it."

  • Christian Grey, Fifty Shades of Grey

    Sure, there's that tie. But then there's also the fact that Christian Grey dons an array of stellar suits throughout the full trilogy of books. The most dapper gent in erotic fiction ever.

  • Bellatrix Lestrange, Harry Potter

    While we're not fans of championing the baddies, it has to be said that Bellatrix's cool goth vibes make her easily a stand-out candidate for best-dressed in the whole of the Harry Potter series. Yeah, we said it.

  • Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

    How we wish we could dress like Holly. Elegant and chic with that black dress and pearl choker. Truman Capote clearly has taste.

    “She was still on the stairs, now she reached the landing, and the ragbag colors of her boy’s hair, tawny streaks, strands of albino blond and yellow caught the hall light. It was a warm evening, nearly summer, and she wore a slim, cool black dress, black sandals, a pearl choker. For all her chic thinness, she had an almost breakfast-cereal air of health, a soap and lemon cleanness, a rough pink darkening in the cheeks. Her mouth was large, her nose upturned. A pair of dark glasses blotted out her eyes. It was a face beyond childhood, yet this side of belonging to a woman. I thought her anywhere between sixteen and thirty; as it turned out, she was shy two months of her nineteenth birthday.”

  • Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    Even though Lisbeth has red hair, she's dyed it black, sports numerous piercings and a dragon tattoo. This punk look is just so cool, basically.

  • Celia Foote, The Help

    Celia has a rough time of it in some ways, as many of her contemporaries look down on her for her poor background and upbringing in the infamous Sugar Ditch, Mississippi. She dresses in a provocative manner and resembles Marilyn Monroe, in her skintight ensembles, and it looks incredible.