The Most Stylish People in Literature


Another New York Fashion Week is in the books after today. There were some highs, and there were some definite lows. Lots of pictures of celebrities looking bored while models walked past them were taken, and people tweeted things like this:

That somewhat culturally insensitive tweet shows that fashion people aren’t always the smartest. But on the flip side, smart people aren’t always the most fashionable. I mean — not naming names here — but you can win as many prizes as you want, but that shouldn’t stop you from at least attempting to dress a little bit better; comb your hair, buy a suit that fits, wear a color that looks good on you, for god’s sake, clean it up a little, and maybe take a few cues from the people on this list on how to be a well-dressed writer.

Gay Talese

As if we wouldn’t include this literary icon who is almost as well known for his great suits as he is his daring nonfiction. This son of an Italian tailor is the reigning king of well-dressed male writers.

Zadie Smith

The White Teeth and NW author is already a combination of beautiful and brilliant, but she has also crafted a style that’s all her own, which normally includes her signature head wraps and glasses.

Tom Wolfe

There are Gay Talese people and then there are folks that believe the perpetually white suit-clad Bonfire of the Vanities author’s outfits represent the sine qua non of literary menswear.

Donna Tartt

The author of impeccably stylized cult classic The Secret History — not to mention the most sought-after galley of 2013, The Goldfinch — has long maintained a sleek, minimal look that is unmistakable.

Michael Chabon

First of all, Michael Chabon has bedroom eyes. You can’t really deny that a glimpse of the guy’s baby blues gets you thinking, “Hey, what’s up, Kavalier & Clay?” But the reason Chabon makes this list isn’t his peepers, and it’s not because he rocks a paisley shirt like no one’s business; Michael Chabon was rocking the badass henley shirt and geek glasses long before you paid too much for the same outfit.

Deborah Eisenberg

Not only is she one of the best short story writers around, but Deborah Eisenberg has always looked cool, elegant, and artistic.

Toni Morrison

You could take away all of her accomplishments, and Toni Morrison would still look awesome. This Nobel Prize winner’s regal style embodies what all of us should want to look like when we (finally) grow up.

Simon Van Booy

This Wales-born author, whose latest work, The Illusion of Separateness, is one of 2013’s must-read books, has the smart-and-sophisticated-guy-with-an-accent-and-good-glasses thing down pat.

Robert Caro

Some writers work in their pajamas, but not Robert Caro. “He dresses every day in a jacket and tie and reports to a 22nd-floor office in a nondescript building near Columbus Circle, where his neighbors are lawyers or investment firms,” The New York Times reports. “His office looks as if it belongs to the kind of C.P.A. who still uses ledgers and a hand-cranked adding machine. There are an old wooden desk, wooden file cabinets and a maroon leather couch that never gets sat on. Here Caro writes the old-fashioned way: in longhand, on large legal pads.”

Porochista Khakpour

The glamorous author of the forthcoming novel The Last Illusion is easy to spot at literary events if you just look for the best-dressed lady in the room.

Glenn O’Brien

He’s “The Style Guy” for GQ, but the T.V. Party host and author of the guide How to be a Man is as bookish as he is well-versed in rocking a tie. This friend of Andy Warhol’s has been contributing to and editing books more and more in the past several years, and his stylish insights are always welcomed.

The staff of The Paris Review

The Children of Plimpton and their fancy office and nice clothes make us all a little jealous.

Fran Lebowitz

Fran doesn’t know how to get over her eternal writer’s block and finish her book, but she knows how to make a bespoke blazer and white shirt into a trademark look.

Tayari Jones

After you’re finished reading this list, go ahead and Google Image search this author of Silver Sparrow; she always brings her fashion game to literary functions.

Emma Straub

Find us an author who wears a flower in their hair better than the Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures author, and we’ll simply say, “Pssssssh. Nobody pulls that off like Straub.”

Martin Amis

Of course we’re putting this Englishman living in Brooklyn on this list. You’re always going to see Amis in a nice button-up, hair looking untouchable — probably with a drink in his hand.

Lauren Cerand

This publicist is the epitome of literary elegance. Follow her on Twitter to pick up a few tips on how to dress and live better.

Richard Nash

This literary maven and editor is reliably the best-dressed man at any industry event in New York.

Daniel Mendelsohn

This New York Review of Books critic and author always dresses well, but he can also talk to you about everything from Mad Men to Alan Hollinghurst; that intelligence and versatility makes him all the more stylish. He also pulls off the gleaming dome better than just about anybody.

Joan Didion

Just go ahead and bow down to the queen.