Author-Inspired Fashion: James Joyce

This modernist author’s body of work is unconventional and inspiring.

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Every great writer has a unique style and core themes that carry on throughout their entire body of work. Author-Inspired Fashion is about taking those things and channeling them into fashion inspiration. Today’s literary inspiration is the unconventional modernist James Joyce.

James Joyce
                                                          James Joyce via Wikimedia

After the brutality of WWI, a new movement arose in literary circles: modernism. Common techniques of modernist literature included stream-of-consciousness narratives, and focus on controversial subjects and psychology. Many significant writers popped up from this movement, and among them were voices like Virginia Woolf (author of Mrs. Dalloway), the poet T.S. Eliot, and James Joyce.

Joyce wrote some of the most iconic pieces of modernist literature. His novels include A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Finnegans Wake, and Ulysses. Many find his works tedious to get through (which I can attest to) but these classics are well worth the extra effort.

Below, I’ve created three looks inspired by Joyce’s body of work.



Products: ShirtCardiganSkirtBootsHatBagBracelet

Much of Joyce’s work is about either looking back on the past or reliving a specific memory after years of suppression. Following this theme, many of his short stories are influenced by his childhood in Ireland. His narratives often visit different places in time, so this outfit is inspired by both new trends and old classics.

Starting out with wardrobe classics, like a simple blouse and black boots, creates a perfect blank canvas upon which to build a look. This corduroy skirt is a ’70s throwback that’s become popular again. Pair it with a fringe bag for a look that is both on-trend and retro at the same time. Finish the look off with a hat, cardigan, and thick bracelet.

Losing My Religion

Losing My ReligionJJ

Products: CapeShirtJeansFlatsLipstick (in Pink Plaid), ClutchEarrings

Joyce grew up in a Catholic environment in late 1800s Ireland. Although he was educated by Jesuits and raised by a religious family, he rejected organized religion in his adult life. Even though he no longer identified as Catholic, religion continued to influence Joyce’s work. This look incorporates a mix of formal and laid-back pieces, inspired by Joyce’s dual experiences with religion.

How great are capes right now? They’re fun, stylish, and a great excuse to wear a blanket around all day. Capes serve as a grand, dramatic centerpiece for a laid-back outfit, so pair this versatile grey one with a staple plaid shirt, nude flats, and comfy black jeans. A polished pink lip adds formality to the look, along with a clutch and some rhinestone earrings.


“Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.” ― James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Epiphany JJ

Products: ShirtSkirtTrenchBootsTightsEarrings

One of Joyce’s short stories, The Dead, is about a man named Gabriel and the revelations he experiences after a Feast of the Epiphany celebration. Gabriel awakens feeling reaffirmed in his life, after spending all night disconnected with those around him. Having an epiphany is a special sort of rush, one that’s impossible to replicate, but we can take inspiration from them by mixing elements of color, sparkle, and comfort.

This is an outfit you can easily modify for either winter or summer by adding or subtracting a few layers. A trench coat and tights look especially classy with these gorgeous blush boots. Shed the winter clothes in the spring to reveal this off-the shoulder top and flirty floral skirt. Then sparkle with these stunning earrings.

Final Thoughts

James Joyce’s work can be polarizing, due to its dense subject matter and modernist style. But he is surely one of the most important writers to come out of Ireland, and is truly one of the all-time greats in the world. Perusing his work for inspiration – in and out of fashion – is well worth your time. 

So, what do you think of Author-Inspired Fashion? Have you read James Joyce’s work before, or are you going to check it out now? Which authors would you like to see featured here? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

3 thoughts on “Author-Inspired Fashion: James Joyce”

  1. I love these author inspired fashion posts! Have you considered doing Kate Chopin, H.G. Wells, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, W.H. Auden, or Edna St. Vincent Millay?

  2. Oh, my God! I’m actually reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man now! It is dense, but very beautiful, in a way. One of my favorite musicians was heavily influenced by James Joyce (Hozier), so this is just awesome!


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