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Looks from Books: If I Stay

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Welcome to the latest edition of Looks from Books, which aims to prove that you can look smart, while still being book-smart, too. Fashion inspiration can be found between the pages of your favorite stories, on well-designed book covers, and in your favorite characters… if you read closely enough.

This week, we’re taking inspiration from a romantic novel that recently made it’s big screen debut. However, this book has been winning new fans over since 2009… including the star of its adaptation. Here’s Gayle Forman’s If I Stay!

If I Stay Cover
If I Stay Cover || via Amazon

Inside Cover

If I Stay is a 2009 young adult contemporary novel written by Gayle Forman.

The story follows Mia, a young cellist who’s in love with her boyfriend Adam. However, her life is torn completely apart after her family is involved in a car accident on a snowy day, which leaves her parents dead, her brother in intensive care, and herself locked deep in a coma.

Observing the repercussions of the collision within the hospital in an out-of-body experience, particularly the response of her extended family and friends, Mia reflects on her life and ponders whether she should let go and move on, or stay and live a life she doesn’t know she could handle.

The novel has quite the YA following, with enough good reviews from critics and fans alike for its emotional depth and empathetic story-telling to warrant a sequel novel; Where She Went was published in 2011.

A Fashionable Literacy

If i stay movie poster
A promotional poster for the upcoming adaptation || Photo via IMDB

The novel’s first adaptation hit theaters on August 22nd, and stars Chloë Grace Moretz as Mia Hall and Jamie Blackley as Adam.

The film’s star managed to make some waves with YA fans after comments in a June interview with Entertainment Weekly, about how she “doesn’t love the young adult designation” of the novel because it “diminishes the book’s value,” were published. Many took these comments to be demeaning to the YA reader audience, as well as belittling the success of other such novels, like The Fault in Our Stars, 13 Reasons Why, or Speak, which also tackle difficult subject matter from a teenage perspective.

However, critical reception to the film has been primarily even-handed, with most praising Moretz’s emotionally-demanding performance.

How to Add Mia to Your Wardrobe

By integrating key elements from the novel into your own look, you, too, can pay homage to the sweeping romance and drama of the novel.

Make It Music

If I Stay Make Music Tweed Skirt
Product Information: Necklace – Simply Soles, Shirt – Forever21, Cardigan – Delia’s, Skirt – Calvin Klein, Boots – Modcloth, Bracelets – Charlotte Russe.

While Adam takes center stage in Mia’s original quandary – whether she should stay on the West Coast for school or travel to Julliard – there is an even greater love in her life she must weigh into that decision: her love of music. Particularly, for her, the cello… but also her parent’s punk sensibilities and her boyfriend’s involvement with his band. In fact, music winds its way through almost every character.

Integrate the theme of music in the narrative by marrying punk and classical aesthetics, just like Mia’s cello-rebellion against her parent’s rocking upbringing, as well as her relationship with Adam. A leather-lined tweed skirt mixes the best of both worlds, while a demure cardigan and dainty music necklace contrast against rockin’ heeled boots and a Ramones tee. Mixed media bracelets bridge the gap between genres with pearls and studs in equal measure.

Like a Love Song

Product Information: Jacket – Old Navy, Necklace – NastyGal, Shirt – Delia’s, Skirt – Charlotte Russe, Shoes – DSW, Backpack – Delia’s.

Unsurprisingly, the heart of the novel has to do with, well, matters of the heart. While the status of the love story among the young adult set is pretty firmly cemented in many a series, that doesn’t mean Mia and Adams’ is any less extraordinary. And not just in the circumstances that surround it, but in the ways that it accurately describes a teenage relationship, complete with bumps and bruises along the way. It may be a love story, but it’s certainly no fairy tale… Mia and Adam have to work to make their relationship work, too.

Bring out the romance of the novel with a mix of items that are sturdy and soft, spiky and sleek… a reminder that the road is bumpy, and love doesn’t come easy. A distressed denim jacket, acid wash backpack, studded boots, and knotted necklace rough up a flowery crop top and slitted pink maxi skirt to create a look that is sweet and sturdy.

Collegiate Conflictions

Product Information: Sunglasses – Modcloth, Dress – Threadsence, Jacket – Forever 21, Shoes – Zappos, Bag – Modcloth, Necklace – Betsey Johnson.

One of the main conflicts in Mia and Adams’ relationship is their impending split as high school nears its end, as she plans to venture to Julliard, while Adam takes his band to the big time on the opposite coast. Neither one is willing – or wants to! – ask the other to give up on their dream, and the knowledge that their ambitions will inevitably tear them apart drives the couple to fighting. Still, when Mia needs him most, Adam is there as quickly as he can be… because no matter the obstacle, not even growing up can make these two grow apart.

Channel this split between rock ‘n’ roll road life and collegiate coziness with contrasting edgy and college-inspired pieces. A varsity jacket, Converse, and a leather messenger bag are all classic collegiate pieces, while a plaid baby-doll dress, a skull necklace, and star-worthy sunglasses take the look into rocker territory.

What Do You Think?

Have you read Gayle Forman’s best-selling novel, If I Stay? What about it’s sequel, Where She Went? What do you think about the movie adaptation? What do you think about the outfits and styling tips? Let me know in the comments below! 

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DIY Tutorial: Swim Dress Cover-Up


DIY Swim Dress Cover-Up

Summer is almost over and the temperatures are dropping fast! Some people (*cough* myself) spent the whole summer either in a poorly air-conditioned office for an internship or romping the streets of a foreign city for study-abroad, and haven’t had a chance for some low-key, traditional summer fun, like barbeques, picnics, or a pool day.

I decided that I needed to squeeze in at least one relaxing day at the pool before fall, and what’s a good pool day without a good cover-up? (Sidenote: I’m obsessed with cover-ups; here are tutorials for “top” and “bottom” cover-ups.)

Fellow CF writer Catherine mentioned in this post (and hinted at a future DIY…) the super-popular Victoria’s Secret version. Based on all the positive responses to this DIY reusable shopping bag, I decided to repurpose the same technique and similar materials to create my take on the swim dress cover-up.

Read on for step-by-step instructions detailing how you can create your very own swim dress cover-up. (Spoiler alert: it’s incredibly easy and no sewing is required!)


Diy swim dress cover materials

  • Scissors
  • Ribbon
  • Fabric – at least 2-3 yards. Aim for one with “holes” in it, like mesh or crochet lace.

Step One

Diy swim dress cover step 1

Cut two long, equal lengths of ribbon. I always fold and cut a ribbon in half to ensure two equal lengths.

Step Two

Diy swim dress cover step 2

Positioning the fabric so that’s it’s a horizontal rectangle, fold down the top right-hand corner. (As always, follow the diagram!)

Step Three

Diy swim dress cover step 3

Simply thread a ribbon at the edge, looping the ribbon in-between the holes of the fabric, effectively “sewing” down this section.

If you choose to use a fabric without holes, simply sew down the corner a few inches down from where I marked on the diagram to form a “casing.” Thread the ribbon through the casing.

Step Four

Diy swim dress cover step 4

Pull the ribbon a bit so that the ribbon ruches/gathers at this corner edge. You should have a nice curved arch.

Step Five

Diy swim dress cover step 5

To prevent the ruched/gathered part from moving around, you need to secure it in place. You can do this by double knotting the ribbon on itself, making sure to go through the fabric edges. Repeat this step on both sides of the ribbon.

Step Six

Diy swim dress cover step 6

Loop the two ends of the ribbon upwards, and secure on top with a bow. You now have a sleeve!

Step Seven

Simply repeat the process on the top left-hand corner, and you’re done. The handy diagram below shows you how to wear this cover-up:

Vs wrap tutorial
Product Info


Diy swim dress cover finale

Diy swim dress cover details

Feel free to trim the bottom of the fabric to your desired length. I love maxis, so I opted to keep mine long.

Feedback please:

Do you love swim cover-ups as much as I do? Would you make your own DIY swim dress cover-up using this tutorial? Are there any other DIYs you would like to see tutorials for? Let me know in the comments!

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Looks on Campus: Bianca – Indiana Unversity of Pennsylvania

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Taking classes at Indiana University of Pennsylvania during the summer and doing her study abroad experience here in the U.S., Bianca doesn’t go unnoticed with her bubbly personality and fabulously detailed outfit.

She sports a classic college outfit with fall essentials: a cozy sweater, a patterned scarf, and trendy shoes. Bianca is transitioning to her first full year studying in the U.S. starting this fall, so I am certain she will be rocking her classic outfits around campus.

Bianca 101

Indiana university of pa student street fashion

Name: Bianca

College: Indiana University of PA

Hometown: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Major: Chemistry

Age: 21

Year: Senior

Let’s Talk Fashion

Who or what inspires your style? “The situation. It depends on who will be there or what it’s going to be.”

Where do you like to shop? “Wherever there is a sale! All my friends know whenever we go shopping they’ll spend $50 on one shirt and I’ll have 20 bags that added up to the same price. For example, so far I have seen many sales at Aero, Rue 21, and Charlotte Russe.”

How would you describe your sense of style? “It would be to not try anything ‘ridiculous.’ Sometimes you look or think about some outfits and you just know that it’s not the right one. And also not showing a lot of skin!”

Why did you choose this particular outfit? “I love scarves, so I chose this outfit because it’s always a nice detail; you can have a very simple outfit with darker colors, and scarves will add that pop of color to it. Wool sweaters are also comfortable and versatile.”

What fashion advice would you give other college students? “To find your own style first and wear the clothes that make you feel confident.”

What are your favorite trends right now? “I really like the boho trend. Loving it right now!”

Do you have a favorite designer? “Not really. I would wear a top from one designer and then a skirt from another. I think all designers have had successful designs and not-so-successful designs at one point, so it’s hard to name one.”

What do you do for fun? “I love to dance and to read.”

If you could raid anyone’s closet who would it be and why? “I would have Gisele Bündchen’s closet. I think even outside the runway she has a nice style.”

Elements of Bianca’s Outfit

1. Sneaker Wedges

Wedge sneakers trend college fashion

I love Bianca’s shoes because honestly, not many can pull off orange-heeled sneakers, but she did it gracefully! (Although she did say it has caused some controversy with her boyfriend, who jokes that she got them from the cartoon Garfield.)

However, we think her fashion-forward sneaks are right on trend. The gold studded detailing on the sides and the pumpkin orange hue added an edgy vibe to her otherwise casual ensemble.

2. Patterned Scarf

College student wearing a patterned scarf

Pairing cute scarves with comfy sweaters is a go-to combination that can be spotted on pretty much every college campus come fall. Bianca’s colorful patterned scarf has a trendy vibe, plus the blue and orange hues match her sweater and sneakers, respectively. Little details like this really tie a look together!

3. Jewelry + Nails

Pretty neutral nail polish

Since she already had bold statement pieces in her outfit, Bianca went with modest jewelry and a neutral nail color. The only jewelry on her hands was this simple ring with a metallic stripe. It was perfect; there was no need for her to go overboard with jewelry in this flawless school day look.

Do you think Bianca nailed this casual look?

Do you like the minimal jewelry paired with a bold scarf? What about her “Garfield” sneakers? Let us know what you think in the comments section below! 

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