Well Dressed, Well Read: Emily Climbs

She has literary ambitions, I understand, and considers herself the best dressed girl in High School. Perhaps she is; but somehow her clothes seem to make more impression on you than she does. People criticise Ilse for dressing too richly and too old but she dominates her clothes for all that. Evelyn doesn’t. You always think of her clothes before you think of her. The difference seems to be that Evelyn dresses for other people and Ilse dresses for herself.

  • from Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery

Well Dressed, Well Read: Anne of Windy Poplars

anne of windy poplars

“It will have to do…though green is the one colour above all others that you should never wear, my Katherine. But you’re going to wear a red, pin-tucked chiffon collar I’ve made for you. Yes, you are. You ought to have a red dress, Katherine.”

“I’ve always hated red. When I went to live with Uncle Henry, Aunt Gertrude always made me wear aprons of bright Turkey-red. The other children in school used to call out ‘Fire,’ when I came in with one of those aprons on. Anyway, I can’t be bothered with clothes.”

“Heaven grant me patience! Clothes are very important,” said Anne severely, as she braided and coiled. Then she looked at her work and saw that it was good. She put her arm about Katherine’s shoulders and turned her to the mirror.

“Don’t you truly think we are a pair of quite good-looking girls?” she laughed. “And isn’t it really nice to think people will find some pleasure in looking at us? There are so many homely people who would actually look quite attractive if they took a little pains with themselves. Three Sundays ago in church….you remember the day poor old Mr. Milvain preached and had such a terrible cold in his head that nobody could make out what he was saying?…well, I passed the time making the people around me beautiful. I gave Mrs. Brent a new nose, I waved Mary Addison’s hair, and gave Jane Marden’s a lemon rinse…I dressed emma Dill in blue instead of brown…I dressed Charlotte Blair in stripes instead of checks…I removed several moles…and I shaved off Thomas Anderson’s long, sandy Piccadilly weepers. You couldn’t have known them when I got through with them. And, except perhaps for Mrs. Brent’s nose, they could have done everything themselves. Why, Katherine, your eyes are just the colour of tea…amber tea. Now, live up to your name this evening…a brook should be sparkling…limpid…merry.”

  • from Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery

Well Dressed, Well Read: Nancy Mitford’s “Love In A Cold Climate”

Nancy Mitford Love In a cold climate

Polly wore a white satin dress with pink roses at the bosom and a pink lining to the sash (touches of pink, as the Tatler said) chosen in Paris for her by Mrs. Chaddesley Corbett and brought over in the bag by some South American diplomat, a friend of Lady Montdore’s to save duty, a proceeding of which Lord Montdore knew nothing and which would have perfectly horrified him had he known. Enhanced by this dress, and by a little make-up, Polly’s beauty was greatly remarked upon, especially by those of a former generation, who were all saying that since Lady Helen Vincent, since Lily Langtry, since the Wyndham sisters (according to taste), nothing so perfect had been seen in London.

  • from Love In a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford

Well Dressed, Well Read: “A Wagner Matinee” by Willa Cather


But Mrs. Springer knew nothing of all this, and must have been considerably shocked at what was left of my kinswoman. Beneath the soiled linen duster which, on her arrival, was the most conspicuous feature of her costume, she wore a black stuff dress, whose ornamentation showed that she had surrendered herself unquestioningly into the hands of a country dressmaker. My poor aunt’s figure, however, would have presented astonishing difficulties to any dressmaker. Originally stooped, her shoulders were now almost bent together over her sunken chest. She wore no stays, and her gown, which trailed unevenly behind, rose in a sort of peak over her abdomen.

– from “A Wagner Matinee” in The Bohemian Girl: Stories by Willa Cather

Well Dressed, Well Read: Mavis Gallant’s “A Report”


Above: Canadian writer Mavis Gallant

The official report knows only this: “M Monnerot’s sister’s apartment is occupied by Mlle Brigitte Vanderplank, who is a French citizen. Mlle Vanderplank works for a wholesale dress firm as a hostess and model when coats and dresses are shown to buyers in Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland and Switzerland. She is twenty-four, and speaks French, Flemish, and several German dialects […] Mlle Vanderplank wears an apple-green suit and white shoes. She carries a white purse with a gold chain. She has been described variously as ‘exquisite,’ ‘undernourished,’ ‘common,’ ‘distinguished,’ but all are agreed that she has blond hair.

– from “A Report” in collection In Transit by Mavis Gallant

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