Top 10 Best Dressed Literary Characters

Dominique Francon, Daisy BuchananPhoto: Film interpretations of The Fountainhead’s Dominique Francon (left) and The Great Gatsby’s Daisy Buchanan.

Flavorwire recently compiled their list of “Literature’s 10 Best-Dressed Characters,” which included Lily Bart, of The House of Mirth, and Holly Golightly, of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. While we certainly can’t disagree with their choice of characters, we know more than a few leading ladies who deserve equal recognition! So, without further ado, we’re oh-so pleased to present our list of best dressed literary characters.

10. Leslie Burke Bridge to Terabithia
On her first day at a new middle school, ambitious Leslie sported cut-off denim shorts and a big T-shirt. Being the new kid in class is a tough gig, but Leslie handled the challenge with stylish grace while staying true to herself.

9. Daisy Buchanan The Great Gatsby
This enchanting, albeit thoughtless gal who stole Gatsby’s heart had a voice “full of money,” and embodied the fantastic decadence of America in the 1920s. (For visual inspiration, it doesn’t get much better than the 1974 film adaption.)

8. Madame Defarge A Tale of Two Cities
Okay, so maybe Madame Defarge isn’t the most fashionable villain out there, but can you imaging the sweaters, shawls, scarves, and hats she so furiously knit?

7. Claudia Kishi The Babysitters Club series
This pattern-mixing maven is not only a wholesome role model, she’s a fashion-forward trendsetter who has even inspired a fashion blog or two.

6. Anna Karenina Anna Karenina
We dream of the luxe accessories Anna undoubtedly carried on her many trips to the opera in St. Petersburg.

5. Molly Millions Neuromancer
The image of this svelte, streamlined sci-fi character was inspired by Chrisse Hynde on the first self-titled Pretenders album. And Molly’s signature mirrored shades? Too cool for words!

4. Sabina The Unbearable Lightness of Being
With a bowler hat atop her head and a colorful canvas in front of her, this alluring artiste defines both lightness and personal style in Milan Kundera’s irrefutable classic.

3. Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Author E. L. Konigsburg doesn’t specifically describe Mrs. Frankweiler’s personal style, but we can only imagine the 82-year-old art collecting recluse to posses enviable panache, à la Big Edie Beale.

2. Emma Woodhouse Emma
Cher Horowitz, of Clueless, was loosely based on Jane Austen’s fair Emma Woodhouse. Need we say more?

1. Dominique Francon The Fountainhead
Why try to paraphrase Rand’s eloquent prose? On Dominqiue’s appearance, Rand writes,she looked like a stylized drawing of a woman and made the correct proportions of a normal being appear heavy and awkward beside her. She wore a plain gray suit; the contrast between its tailored severity and her appearance was deliberately exorbitant—and strangely elegant…Her face, her pale gold hair, her suit seemed to have no color, but only a hint, just on the verge of the reality of color, making the full reality seem vulgar.”

Who would you add to the list?


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  1. Avatar
    Paulette W. 10/11/2010 at 12:20 pm #

    Fun post! There are some really stylish ladies in literature 🙂

  2. Avatar
    Louise 10/11/2010 at 12:48 pm #

    I would also add Lucy Pevensie from C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” Those collars!

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    Magatha May 10/11/2010 at 1:16 pm #

    I totally wanted to be Claudia when I was younger

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    Annie (ModCloth) 10/11/2010 at 1:52 pm #

    Good call, Louise! How could I have overlooked Lucy?!

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    LifeAsIShowIt 10/11/2010 at 2:07 pm #

    I think Daisy is my favorite. Always chic!

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    RachelC 10/11/2010 at 3:04 pm #

    Love Becky Thatcher from Vanity Fair!

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    Becky 10/11/2010 at 3:10 pm #

    Haha…Claudia was pretty much my fashion hero when I was a kid! Come to think of it, I’m still obsessed with prints. Though I never got brave enough to mix them.

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    Sophie 10/11/2010 at 4:05 pm #

    Oh great list! I’d almost forgotten about BSC! Claudia was a baller.

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    Michal 10/11/2010 at 4:09 pm #

    I agree that Lucy should be on the list (from Chronicles of Narnia). Also Cassandra from I Capture the Castle!

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    Kaleigh 10/11/2010 at 5:58 pm #

    You simply must add Meg March from Little Women… think how much she fretted over Jo’s scorched skirt and her own mismatched gloves… and how much attention she attracted dressed up in the latest fashions at Sally Gardiner’s ball!

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    Hannah (ModCloth) 10/11/2010 at 7:58 pm #

    Yes, Sabina! I can definitely see her as having pretty awesome style. Great list!

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    Kaelah Bee 10/12/2010 at 11:13 am #

    Babysitters Club! Thank you for triggering my nostalgia!

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    Eliza 10/12/2010 at 3:16 pm #

    Aw, man! The Holly Golightly of Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is, in fact, not stylish. The H.G. as portrayed by Audrey Hepburn is undoubtedly, but the original, true, lady of the lit is a bit scrappy and androgenous. Love her, either way though 🙂

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    Heather 10/12/2010 at 4:07 pm #

    Hmm… Don’t know what was on the original list, but what abou these ones:
    1.) Nancy, Bess and George from Nancy Drew. Nancy was always kind of preppy, Bess was girly, and George was a tomboy.
    2.) Rebecca from “Rebecca”: what with her huge wardrobe and amazing costume party dress, she should definitely be on a list.
    3.) Hester Prynne, “The Scarlet Letter”: for being so creative and transforming the “A” into a piece of art.
    Great Article!

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    Heather 10/12/2010 at 4:10 pm #

    Oh, and also Scarlett O’Hara, but now I see she was on the original list. Curtain dress, anyone?

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    Alyssa 10/12/2010 at 4:21 pm #

    I loved Dominique Francon. Even though she was not the nicest of people she knew how to make an entrance

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    Objecting 10/12/2010 at 5:09 pm #

    I violently disagree with many of these selections. The Babysitters Club? Ayn Rand? Blech.

    • Avatar
      Annie (ModCloth) 10/12/2010 at 6:11 pm #

      Sorry to hear that, Objecting! Who would be on your list of fashionable characters?

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    Lily 10/15/2010 at 2:09 pm #

    I would add Sally Jay Gorce from The Dud Avocado, her glamorous life in the fifties certanly reflected her wonderful style, i always wanted to live like her, wearing elegant gowns, surauded by interesting people making my life into one… sigh…

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    Mary 10/19/2010 at 4:38 pm #

    Julia and Sebastian Flyte from Brideshead Revisited.

    On the original list: My bf won my heart by comparing me to Lady Brett Ashley.

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    Ellie 10/21/2010 at 6:13 pm #

    Lenina Crown from Brave New World definitely belongs on the list.

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    Antonina 02/06/2012 at 11:10 am #

    I love The Fountainhead. I love the style Rand presented in her female leads. Minimalism with flare, seems like a contradiction but neither Dominique nor Dagney could ever enter a room and not be the center. I have always thought that if I ever had the chance to dress for a formal event I would try to channel these two characters and dress accordingly. Nice pick for number one!

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