A guiding hand

Flavorwire has compiled a list of their top-ten picks for Literature's Best-Dressed Characters. Their choices lean heavily towards Literature That Has Inspired Movie Adaptations, and I'm somewhat chagrined they didn't include my favorite fashion authority from literature, Aunt Alicia from Colette's novella Gigi. Check out a few of her words of sartorial wisdom:

"Rather than a wretched little diamond full of flaws, wear a simple, plainly inexpensive ring. In that case you can say, 'It's a momento. I never part with it, day or night.' Don't ever wear artistic jewelry, it wrecks a woman's reputation."

"What is an artistic jewel?"

"It all depends. A mermaid in gold with eyes of chrysoprase. An Egyptian scarab. A large engraved amethyst. A not very heavy bracelet said to have been chased by a master-hand. A lyre or star, mounted as a brooch. A studded tortoise. In a word, all of them, frightful. Never wear baroque pearls, not even as hat-pins. Beware, above all things, of family jewels!"

"But Grandmama has a beautiful cameo, set as a medallion."

"There are no beautiful cameos," said Alicia, with a toss of the head. "There are precious stones and pearls. There are white, yellow, blue, blue-white or pink diamonds. We won't speak of black diamonds, they're not worth mentioning. Then there are rubies--when you can be sure of them; sapphires, when they come from Kashmir; emeralds, provided they have no fatal flaw, or are not too light in color, or have a yellowish tint."

"Aunt, I'm very fond of opals, too."

"I am very sorry, but you are not to wear them. I won't allow it."

Dumbfounded, Gilberte remained for a moment open-mouthed.

"Oh! Do you too, Aunt, really believe that they bring bad luck?"

"Why in the world not? You silly little creature," Alicia went bubbling on, "you must pretend to believe in such things. Believe in opals, believe--let's see, what can I suggest--in turquoises that die, in the evil eye..."

"But," said Gigi, haltingly, "those are... are superstitions!"

"Of course they are, child. They also go by the name of weaknesses. A pretty little collection of weaknesses, and a terror of spiders, are indispensable stock-in-trade with men."
Of course, the woman fully intended to sell off her teenage niece into elegant prostitution, so maybe she wasn't the world's greatest role model... but I read this book at an impressionable age, and I've winced at the sight of artistic jewelry ever since.
Posted by: Julianka


No comments yet. Be the first!

No new comments are allowed on this post.