I’m so, so excited to announce the first post of an exciting new series: The Authors. This series will feature outfits inspired by my favorite writers. I’ve styled them very specifically to express the personal history and passions of my literary role models. Fittingly we’re starting with the love of my life, Leo Tolstoy. Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy has been a guiding force in my life for many years. His books have gotten me through good times and bad.
Tolstoy was born into an aristocratic family in Russia at their estate Yasnaya Polyana outside of Moscow. Russian winters are notoriously brutal so I started the look off with a heavy wool coat and fur hat. The formal structure is reminiscent of Tolstoy’s time in the military as a young man. And look, he was cuuuute! About mid way through his life Tolstoy went through a moral crisis and renounced the trappings of wealth that he’d been raised in. One way he did this was with clothing. He retreated into baggy, simple, peasant garments. Here’s a photo of him and his wife. In his mind, simple clothing indicated a clean conscience. His books follow this same rule, the extravagantly dressed characters tend to be the most corrupt (think Anna Karenina or Helene from War and Peace). The New York Times Magazine wrote an excellent article on the subject, you can read it here.
In keeping with this philosophy I wore loose pants and a top in neutral colors. Tolstoy may not have been the most stylish, but man was he comfortable! If you want to know what other books to read by Leo, check out my guide to Russian literature.
I got this beautiful notebook on Etsy. It has a quote in Russian from his play The Live Corpse. The translation is “Music is the shorthand of emotion.” This play was one of many pacifist works Tolstoy wrote. His call for non-violent resolution would later influence Ghandi and Martin Luther King.
This bracelet was another Etsy find. On it in Russian is the confessional scene from Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Dostoevsky and Tolstoy were contemporaries. They moved in the same circles and even went to a lot of the same events, and yet, they never met. It’s fascinating. They wrote to each other and admired each other’s work immensely. They tried multiple times to meet and were thwarted repeatedly. I wore the bracelet as an homage to their friendship.
Coat: Gifted vintage, Hat: Vintage, Trousers: Zara, Shirt: Thrifted, Shoes: Primark, Necklace: Forever21, Bracelet: Etsy, Notebook: Etsy
Photos by Stephanie Krist.