It's Bloomsday today, the annual day of celebration of James Joyce and all things literary. In the spirit of the day, Esquire examines the personal style of 5 literary icons..
Why: Brooklynite who rocked a beard that would put to shame any of his modern-day descendants in Williamsburg. Remains unquestioned, undisputed, unchallenged master of the hat: Dented, flipped, or floppy, Whitman's lids are still more identifiable than any personality this side of Johnny Depp. Throw in stick, pipe, and preservation of Brooklyn's Fort Greene Park as public space, and he's miles ahead of your locavore, artisanal, atavistic, speakeasy butcher/bartender hipster.
More after the jump
What: Avant-garde composer, master short-story writer.
Why: "Orientalist." Traveler. Explorer. Tangier's writer in residence. Paved the way for wanderlusting writers from Tennessee Williams to William Burroughs. Man of the medina. First to record songs of nomads in notoriously harsh Atlas Mountains of Southern Morocco for the Library of Congress; did so, presumably, in perfectly tailored dusty white suit. Also got down with arabesque paisleys to match the pattern of his kif smoke.
How: Rumpled oxford shirt, peak-lapel suits (pinstripe, double-breast, khaki, beige), white shoes, ascots, cigarette holder, circular tortoise shades, luggage.
What: Macho bruiser of American letters.
Why: Papa loved to cut a tough-guy profile. Once bragged that he could out-fight, fuck, fish, write, or hunt any other man alive. Image slightly compromised by mad-cat-lady approach to domestic animal hoarding: at last count he owned just less than a kajillion five-toed cats. Still, runways and drinking establishments are awash in looks from the man's Havana days.
How: Guayabera shirt, cotton shorts, and a daiquiri. Throw in some deck shoes for the fishing trip and some sandals for cocktail hour, and you've got yourself an outfit.
What: Journalist, globetrotting novelist.
Why: Bipolar, Catholic, and tantalized with the exoticism he experienced in his travels. A Greene protagonist is far from his home, asea in a foreign milieu, scarred and invariably decked in linens for those warmer climes where the palm trees nod and the ceiling fans whirl. His spies, like himself, wore their whites like a uniform and they wore it well. The grizzled vets and expats could get lost with some native camouflage-cotton short sleeves, enjoying a moment as we speak.
How: Savile Row white suits, crisp white shirt, black or two-tone dark stripe tie (or bow tie), Panama hat, John Lobb oxfords, Blueblockers, plastic-frame aviators.
F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
What: Great. American. Novelist.
Why: Jazz age lush lived fast, died young(ish), wrote like Mozart played the piano. Addicted to glamour and champagne; chased both from Hamptons to South of France to Hollywood. A preppy (way before preppy) with panache. Pleated prohibition lines on suits whiter than snow. Newsboy caps. Plaid.
How: Bright-colored Brooks Brothers suit, two-tone spectators, floppy golf cap, bright tie, colored shirt. No green light.