Now that fall is here, we can anticipate lots of long, lazy Netflix binges, but when was the last time you curled up with a good novel? Since its creation in the late 18th century, the novel has been a favorite of the fashion-forward, and despite major competition these days, it’s still one of our favorite ways to unwind and get inspired—especially now that the latest Girl With the Dragon Tattoo sequel is out. Way back in the day, Jane Austen, Henry James and the old Gothic writers loved a good description of a dress or a hair style, as did F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ayn Rand, Tom Wolfe…we could go on and on. That’s why every chic book shelf needs a few works of fiction. Here are our favorites, both old and new.
The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz
Continuing Stieg Larsson’s series about punk princess Lisbeth Salander, this brand new mystery weaves Riccardo Tisci-esque fashion into a fast-paced caper about computer hacking and world saving. If you’re a fan of Rooney Mara, Givenchy or both, you’ll want to read this before it hits the big screen.
Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell
This collection of connected fictional essays inspired the TV show that motivated a generation of women (like ourselves) to wear slip dresses and tutus and made it perfectly acceptable to spend a month’s rent on a pair of Manolo Blahnik's or Jimmy Choo's. 20 years after its publication, we’re all still asking ourselves in times of wardrobe duress, “What would Carrie Bradshaw do?”
Shopgirl by Steve Martin
The actor and comedian proved a talent for a.) writing exceptional fiction and b.) understanding the minds of young women with this novella about a fragile twenty-something selling gloves at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. Expect lots of great ‘90s fashion, including slithery slip dresses, power suits and loads of minimalist black.
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
Our love affair with the '60s will never die thanks to Jacqueline Susann’s soapy tome about three best friends trying to find their way in a world of New York and Hollywood excess. Think pill box hats, kitten heels, gauzy kaftans, cocktail rings the size of ice cubes, and major, major hair. If you're still mourning the end of Mad Men, you're going to love this book.
Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald
Although Scott Fitzgerald’s wife is better remembered for her tumultuous marriage and struggle with schizophrenia, in her prime she was also an accomplished writer. Her only novel—a thinly-veiled autobiography—tells the story of a society darling who turns to ballet lessons when her marriage goes sour. Flowery descriptions of Jazz Age flappers and champagne-soaked Parisian nights make this a must-read for vintage lovers.
Answered Prayers by Truman Capote
When this account of New York high society was published in the ‘70s, author Truman Capote of Breakfast at Tiffany’s fame lost nearly all his “swans”, the uber-chic women who had confided in him and made him privy to Manhattan’s most glamorous secrets. (Think Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Nan Kempner, Babe Paley and other couture-clad ladies.)