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Friday, August 26, 2016

Clothing in Literature

I’m not what would be called a clothes horse, but I have friends who are very passionate about clothes and style.  One of those fashion lovers is an avid reader and says she always notices what characters wear.  I seldom pay much attention, but then I came across an essay entitled “Clothes in Books and Ways to Go Wrong” by Rosa Lyster.  She argues, “Clothes aren’t just something one puts on a character to stop her from being naked.  Done right, clothes are everything -- a way of describing class, affluence, taste, self-presentation, mental health, body image” (  She makes an interesting argument; I will make a point of noticing more closely how writers clad their characters. 

This essay reminded me of a Warehouse Tour I took at the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario.  The Warehouse Tour allows people to see one of the world’s largest collections of costumes; costumes have been archived since the conception of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and over 55,000 pieces have been gathered.  There are over 10,000 boots and shoes pairs.  The Festival Theatre’s Backstage Tour allows people to see milliners, shoemakers, and sewers at work.  The Festival prides itself on accurately using clothing appropriate to the time period of each play so anyone interested in clothing in drama should definitely take both tours.  And, of course, see a couple of plays too!  The official website is