5 Literary Fashion Icons That Taught Me The Importance Of Personal Style

by Kerri Jarema

I remember a lot about my favorite characters from books and TV shows — their intelligence, their bravery, their wit, their clothes. Literary fashion icons, like Claudia Kishi from The Baby-Sitters Club or Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, are part of the reason why I've always been loved a well-stocked wardrobe and a woman who can put together a killer outfit. And while that fascination with all things sartorial has followed me ever since, it's become clear to me over the years that the reason I love stylish characters so much isn't only because of how they look — it's because of what their clothing choices say about the women they are.

My favorite fashionable literary heroines are creative, bold, unique, and unafraid of being wholly themselves every single day. And while reading about style choices can be fun and inspiring in simple ways, it's this idea that clothes don't make the woman, but the woman makes the clothes, that fascinated me the most. The five characters below, from childhood favorites to more recent inspirations, have helped shape my own personal style and my relationship with creative clothing expression in different ways. And if you're looking for some fresh inspiration for your own fall wardrobe, I recommend taking a closer look at each of these you fictional fashionistas:

Claudia Kishi from 'The Baby-Sitters Club' by Ann M. Martin Taught Me To Use Clothes As Creative Expression

"Clothes are my trademark. I think clothes make a statement about the person inside them. Since you have to get dressed every day, why not at least make it fun?

Claudia Kishi is undeniably cool. She was the only Baby-Sitters Club member with a landline in her bedroom, she had drawers of hidden candy bars she always shared, she was a talented artist, and she had the best clothes. There was not a BSC book that went by without describing Claudia's outfits — patterned leggings, oversized t-shirts, distressed denim and accessories galore. But what has stayed with me the most is that Claudia always used style as a creative outlet and a way to make the average day special. She was never swayed by Kristy's baseball tees or Mary Anne's plaid skirts. She always rocked what she loved, and she inspired me to find new ways to embrace my own creativity.

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Becky Bloomwood from 'Confessions Of A Shopaholic' by Sophie Kinsella Taught Me That Having Passion Is The Key To Happiness

“A man will never love you or treat you as well as a store. If a man doesn’t fit, you can’t exchange him seven days later for a gorgeous cashmere sweater."

OK, so Becky Bloomwood and her shopaholic tendencies probably aren't something to emulate — she is severely in debt for the entirety of the book after all. But what I've always loved the most about her style obsession is the way her passion for what she's wearing, even though others might deem it frivolous, is tantamount to her own happiness. She might not be creatively fulfilled at work, she might not have a steady relationship, or the perfect house, but she has herself and her passions, and in many ways that's enough. Becky has reminded me steadily over the years that my own interests, pursuits, and passions are meaningful when they're fun and help me express myself... whether other people care or not.

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Luna Lovegood from 'Harry Potter' by J.K. Rowling Taught Me That Being Unique Is Always In Style

"The girl gave off an aura of distinct dottiness. Perhaps it was the fact that she had stuck her wand behind her left ear for safekeeping, or that she had chosen to wear a necklace of Butterbeer corks, or that she was reading a magazine upside-down."

Oh, Luna. Radish-earring-wearing, spectrespec-sporting, Butterbeer-cork-necklace-rocking Luna. There is perhaps no character in literature who has made me want to embrace my uniqueness more than Luna Lovegood. For Luna, of course, this manifests in more than just the clothes she wears, but it's undeniable that what she puts on has a huge effect on how the outside world sees her. But that never stops her from donning a gigantic lion head or sticking her wand behind her ear. Luna makes me want to run to my closet and throw on all those pieces I've been too afraid to wear.

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Lara Jean Covey from 'To All The Boys I've Loved Before' by Jenny Han Taught Me That Being True To Yourself Is Most Important

“There are certain outfits you have that make you feel good every time you wear them, and then there are outfits where you wore them too many times in a row because you liked them so much, and now they just feel like garbage.”

It takes only one viewing of the To All the Boys I've Loved Before film to covet Lara Jean's fresh style. Of course, she's made me want to revamp my entire wardrobe. But what has stuck with me is that Lara Jean never, ever compromises her own self-beliefs, or style, in order to fit in or appeal to the average teenager. She likes to bake and stay in and watch TV and wear ribbons in her hair and scour vintage shops for the perfect pieces, and she's not about to start hitting up parties every night in a random club frock from Forever 21 just because it's what everyone else is doing. It took me a long time to learn that lesson, and she's still in high school. Talk about inspiring.

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Anne Shirley from 'Anne of Green Gables' by L.M. Montgomery Taught Me That Experiementing With Style Can Change Your Outlook

"It is ever so much easier to be good if your clothes are fashionable."

Anne Shirley came to Green Gables as an bedraggled orphan and left a sophisticated school teacher with the handsome Gilbert Blythe on her arm. And she did it through her smarts, tenacity, and persistence, of course, but she also did it through fashion. Who can forget that it took accidentally dyeing her hair green to finally embrace her red tresses? Or that her first puffy-sleeved dress was the key to unlocking her self-confidence. Anne has always reminded me that the way we look and feel can have a massive impact on our outlooks in life. And so whenever I get dressed I think of what will make me feel as good as a puffy-sleeve, and I try to embrace my own red-haired flaws when I look in the mirror, too. After all styles come and go, but self-love is forever.

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