Looks from Books: Paper Towns

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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.

Many of you have been requesting a “Looks from Books” post for John Green’s ultra-popular novel The Fault in Our Stars, and I was more than happy to oblige… until I remembered that CF writer Monica created a TFiOS fashion post way back in 2012!

So, instead trying to reinvent the wheel, I decided to give a little more attention to another one of Green’s equally fantastic novels, which has recently been gaining some attention of its own: Paper Towns.


Cover via Amazon

Inside Cover

Paper Towns is a young adult novel written by John Green. Published in 2008, it is the third YA book of his four solo novels that have attained widespread popularity. The other novels are Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and, of course, The Fault in Our Stars.

The novel follows the story of Quentin Jacobsen, a graduating high school senior whose last few months of school are irrevocably altered after he is enlisted into committing a set of pranks by his unrequited crush and next door neighbor, Margo Roth Speigelman, who, subsequent to the shenanigans, disappears without a trace. While attempting to track her down and bring her back home, “Q” begins to realize that there was more to her than just the pretty, popular persona she perpetuated…

Paper Townsdebuted at #5 on the New York Times best-seller list, and was awarded the 2009 Edgar award for best Young Adult novel. In 2014, Green was included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list, for his role in authoring several best-selling novels, as well as being a prolific YouTube blogger with his brother, Hank, on their VlogBrothers channel.

A Fashionable Literacy


A still from the Fault in Our Stars trailer, with Nat Wolff (right) as Isaac

While America – and the world – eagerly awaits for the premiere of The Fault in Our Stars film, another one of Green’s novels has quietly been garnering a little movie buzz… the rights to Paper Towns were recently acquired by Dreamworks.Nat Wolff is already set to star as Quentin. This move has been questioned by fans of Green, since Wolff also stars in The Fault in Our Stars as Gus’ friend, Isaac.

In terms of in-movie fashion direction, as demonstrated in The Fault in Our Stars, costuming seems to be restricted to basic, contemporary fashions that don’t detract from the story line. This is done to bring sharper focus to the emotional plot, as well as reflect what teenagers actually wear, like jeans and t-shirts (even one of the movie stills from TFiOS shows Hazel (Shailene Woodley) wearing the ultimate teen comfort combo of sweatpants and Uggs).

How to Add Quentin and Margo to Your Own Wardrobe

By integrating key elements from the novel into your own look, you, too, can take on the world like Margo and Quentin… providing you have the prerequisite ninja gear suited for the task, of course.

Ninja Attack!


Product Information: Jacket – Nordstrom, Bralette – Threadsence, Tank – H&M, Jeggings – PacSun, Bag – Charlotte Russe, Sneakers – NastyGal.

The whirlwind of events kicking off Quentin’s last month or so of high school is heralded by the arrival of the beautiful adventuress and local legend in the neighborhood of Jefferson Park, Margo Roth Speigelman, through his window, dressed in all black, and and ready to take down the social hierarchy of their H.S. with a crippling series of pranks. With their plan of attack already in place, Q and Margo are going to set some major events in motion that will result in more changes than he might realize.

In accordance with Margo’s plans, “the meek shall do some earth-inheriting” in an outfit that pays homage to her and Q’s night of anarchy, complete with sleek black basics amped up to be just as edgy as their midnight adventures. Black jeggings and snakeprint slip-ons ground the look, while a lacy black bralette layered under a strappy tank make it just a little more daring. A track jacket keeps you from breaking a sweat, while a bucket bag allows you to carry all the essentials… catfish and Mt. Dew not included.

Chain of Clues


Product Information: Clutch – Aldo, Eyeliner – Sephora, Earrings – Topshop, Tee – Modcloth, Bangles – NastyGal, Cardigan – H&M, Boots – Forever 21, Shorts – Charlotte Russe.

Margo has run away before, but plans her excursions out of Orlando to such a degree that she always manages to leave behind a couple of clues just in case. However, this time, the stakes are higher, and the clues are just one more thing Q is beginning to discover about the beautiful girl he thought he knew. All he has to go off of is Woodie Guthrie, Walt Whitman, an abandoned mall, and the words she left behind…

Forge a new path all your own by bringing some pieces inspired by Margo’s clues along for the ride. The destruction of the abandoned mall gives rise to destroyed denim shorts and a thready fringe cardigan, while the short boots get you folk’d up, like Guthrie. A book clutch and winged eyeliner reference her conspicuously-missing notebook, and Whitman’s Leaves of Grass gets gilded with leaf earrings. A stack of bangles stacks up just like the clues to Margo’s whereabouts, while a New York tank references the first location Q guesses she’d be hiding.

Paper Towns and Paper Girls


Product Information: Cardigan – Dorothy Perkins, Top – Delias, Earrings – Modcloth, Pants – Delias, Shoes – Modcloth, Bag – American Eagle.

Margo condemns her and Q’s hometown of Orlando, Florida, during their quest for revenge, as being a “paper town.” While that phrase gets redefined repeatedly throughout the novel, she originally utilizes the phrase as something that is cookie-cutter and perfectly fake. However, she comes to find that she herself – a popular girl obsessed with fashion and popularity, and dating an equally popular jock – could be defined as the same thing. There are many layers to Margo, and it turns out that some of those she needs to find herself.

Explore more of Margo’s hidden personality by using pieces that play up both her preppy and bohemian sides. A prim cardigan, stark white skinnies, and sweet studs represent the girl her parents want her to be, while a flowy tie dye top, macrame bag, and embroidered flats disagree.

What Do You Think?

Have you read Paper Towns? Are you excited about the movie news? Are you going to go see The Fault in Our Stars? Which is your favorite John Green novel? What do you think of the outfits and styling tips? Let me know in the comments below!

6 thoughts on “Looks from Books: Paper Towns”

  1. I personally found Paper Towns to be subpar compared to John Green’s other stuff, but I’m excited for the movie and these outfits are cute!

  2. This is a great post, it would have been nice to see a blue ring or finger cuff in there somewhere (Margo’s graffiti at the beginning of the book!)

  3. I literally finished this book, this morning on the train, I hope you do Looking For Alaska next, she’s such an inspirational girl!

  4. I want to read this book so bad. I plan to read all of John’s books over he summer. I’ve already read The Fault in Our Stars, so I can’t wait to see the movie. I am proud NERDFIGHTER


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