Maybe it's because I'm a poet, too, and that I also married an Englishman, but ever since I was introduced to her in high school, I have loved the poetry — and been impacted by the heartbreaking story — of Sylvia Plath. But just as she has been the inspiration for many young writers in their own confessional poetry or prose, Sylvia Plath's fashion has a unique quality to be admired as well.
Her fashion sense set her apart as a strong and independent woman who had a gift for words and the ability to look utterly chic at the same time. Though her fame was bolstered by her equally talented poet of a husband Ted Hughes, she remained a massive influence in her own right.
When you think of style icons of the past, you might imagine old Hollywood glamour and fashion models of yesteryear. You probably wouldn't pick someone in the literary or academic sphere of influence for ideas on how to dress. But those worlds are just as creative, and a lot can be gained from observing the wardrobe picks of famous writers and artists.
Plath's presence in the literary world during the late '50s and early '60s obviously reflects the wardrobe choices of that time period. But more specifically, she's an unlikely fashion inspiration for her simple and comfortable signature style. She chose to wear outfits that weren't very frilly or eye-catching but that were clean and stream-lined.
One lesser known fact about the writer was that during her time at Cambridge, she apparently wrote fashion reviews for a student paper at university. Her love for scarves, skirts, and trench coats inspires the vintage side of me to experiment with these easy to find pieces that never go out of style.
So here's to a bit of vintage writerly fashion inspiration for your summer and beyond, in these pieced together outfits modeled after the looks of the famous writer. To channel her classic style in your own versions of her looks, make sure to choose understated pieces that can be mixed and matched like simple blouses, skirts, flats, and blazers. Look for traditional colors with minimal flashy designs but feel free to choose simple prints to add a modernized approach.
"Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old womanRises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish."
Flux Trenchcoat, $62, Nasty Gal | Knotted Polka Dot Headwrap, $3, Forever 21 | Sleeveless Cotton Blouse, $18, H&M | Knee-length Skirt, $35, H&M | Lucky Brand Flats, $69, ModCloth | Cambridge Road Satchel, $73, Shopruche
Casual yet classy, this look is inspired by the photos of Sylvia Plath at Notre Dame in Paris. You might find that walking around the city in this outfit inspires you to write a few lines of deeply emotional poetry. Even if it doesn't, you can channel the effortless style of the great poet with plenty of enthusiasm.
"For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge For the hearing of my heart — It really goes."
Peter Pan Blouse, $25, Lands End | Navy Blue Straight Skirt, $63, Elizabeth Custom Skirts | Wide Thick Belt, $28, Etsy | Pearl Stud Earrings, $11, Overstock | Ballet Flats, $15, Amazon | White Large Clutch, $18, Shoptherak
This outfit definitely has that academic look to it, and though it doesn't have a ton of color, that white is perfect for summer. Keep it even more comfortable with a wider, more flowing skirt if you like. Plath's style is perfect for a professional work look or if you are wanting to add a bit of sophistication to your everyday look.
Despite the fact that Sylvia Plath's life ended so tragically as she chose to take her own life, her legacy continues to inspire not only countless aspiring writers but also budding fashionistas alike. I can imagine that if she were still around today, she would be seen in clothes of the same meticulously and brilliantly chosen manner, and would be influencing women everywhere. We didn't get to see more than the first 30 years of her life, but we can still see the effects of her life in the many ways she inspired the world — including her fashion.