In light of all the recent Joan Didion fetishization — Pack like Joan! Eat like Joan! Get a pair of her glasses on Kickstarter! — it’s fascinating to visit the exhibit Didion by Wasser, now at New York’s Danziger Gallery. In a small room dedicated to Julian Wasser’s iconic shoot featuring Didion and her Corvette Stingray, you’ll find tear sheets and shots of Didion smiling, laughing, looking uncomfortable and, well, seeming like a regular person. (She is also most comfortable when she has a cigarette.) It feels like spying on the writer’s impeccably crafted image.
Seeing Didion laugh made me think about what it means for writers to have personal style — whether it’s their own fashion choices or the clothing they write about. Some of our most iconic writers have turned their attention to fashion; here’s our compilation of 25 essential stories.
In Blake Bailey’s wonderful biography Cheever: A Life, he dives deep into the writer’s feelings about overcoats:
“That winter Cheever took long, staggering walks along Commonwealth Avenue, rarely wearing an overcoat despite freezing weather (his father had warned him that overcoats make one look Irish). Finally he sat next to a bum and the two huddled together, sharing a bottle of fortified wine. When a policeman threatened to arrest him, Cheever gave the man a look of bleary, aristocratic reproach: ‘My name is John Cheever,’ he drawled (Cheevah). ‘You’re out of your mind.'”