Favourite Fashion Moments in Children's Lit

(Image from BBC production of I Capture the Castle, courtesy of reelingreviews.com)

Us fashion bloggers are a funny bunch, aren't we? I suspect that beneath our stylish facades, hardcore bookworms and closet novelists are lurking. Why else would we spend so much time carefully crafting regular posts for the enjoyment of our web audiences? We receive the instant gratification of publishing our navel-gazing words and having a ready audience consume them.

Evidently, though, some fashion smarts snuck in amongst all that reading and writing as if by osmosis. Tastes were formed during formative years. I was reminded of that when I read through What Claudia Wore and recalled how I lingered over the details of the BSC girls' outfits when I was 8. I still own a Super Special where the BSC goes to New York; there was one chapter that described the contents of all their suitcases as they were packing for the trip that delighted me.

As I thought about fashion and children's literature (especially children's literature targeted toward girls) a bit more, I realized there were lots of memorable fashion moments in what I read as a kid that I still recall and love:
  • Anne of Green Gables: Anne gets her first pretty dress with puffed sleeves after much obsessing. She and Diana get ready for the White Sands recital in the east gable room, deliberating over whether to wear the pearl beads Matthew bought her.
  • Little Women: Screw the moral lesson associated with the "Meg Goes to Vanity Fair" chapter. I just loved the makeover aspect of it all.
  • Sweet Valley High and BSC books: All those outfit details were a feast for the imagination.
  • Eyewitness books: The Eyewitness history books had amazing photos of historic costumes and jewelry from Rome, Egypt, China, and medieval times. I drank it all in.
  • Seventeen magazine: I subscribed at the age of 11 and didn't quit until I graduated from high school--only to move on to Cosmo, Glamour, InStyle, Marie Claire, and so on.
  • Archie comics: To this day, Archie comics remain my greatest source of insight into 1950s vintage fashion. Sad, no?
  • I Capture the Castle: Okay, I confess I read this when I was 19, so I guess it doesn't really count. It was the perfect book for a mellow rainy afternoon. I felt Rose and Cassandra's pain as they tried to make do with skimpy wardrobes and craved the smart little black dresses of city women.
I could probably go on and on about my favourite books, but it's your turn: What are some of your favourite fashion moments from your childhood reading material?


  1. oooh! I loved Anne of Green Gables. And that puffed sleeves dress. So gorgeous. The complete boxset is available at Costco right now. I think I'll have to pick one up...

    I also got a ton of fashion ideas from Saved by the Bell... loved Lisa and Kelly's outfits and teased bangs

  2. Ooh don't forget Nancy Drew! And if you want to go real old school I loved Little House on the Prairie for the descriptions of everything, especially the food. Nobody else makes pumpkin pie sound yummier than Laura Ingalls Wilder.

  3. Hmm. Magic School bus!! I'm right behind you with Seventeen.

  4. anne of green gables.. :):)
    i almost forgot about that! :)
    and thanks sweetie for leaving comments on my blog :) will visit more often once im settled :)

  5. LOL -- I felt the same way about Little Women.

  6. o your so right! what an interesting post. When I was cleaning my room out I actually moved all of my books down to the basement and was looking at Nancy Drew's fashion change over the years. They were my favorite books when I was little
    I was also in to anything Disney

  7. I am a huge nerd, I think it's more on my sleeve than lurking though! ^_- But growing up I read mostly "boy" books, after that I read science fiction and fantasy. It was awhile before I discovered novels with female heroines and I still never really fell in love with some of the "classic" girl books...


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