Books and Looks – A tour of my bookshelf and wardrobe 

In the absence of an actual book review (new review coming next week, I’m writing this here so I don’t forget!) I thought I would write a little post about something book related that has been keeping me occupied over the last seven months now – a feature I decided to name ‘A Book and a Look’ 

Anyone who follows me on Instagram and/or Twitter may be familiar with the posts I am referring too. A couple of times a week (typically Mondays and Fridays as I like my routine, along with a pleasing pattern on my Instagram grid) I share a photo of a book from my bookshelf whilst wearing an outfit that coordinates in some way – whether it matches the colour or an aspect of the book cover, or if it ties in with the title or theme of the book in some way. I have paired a book about fashion through the ages with a corset, a gothic classic with an equally gothic dress, and a book about a ballroom with a ballgown. I have also recreated Simon Pegg’s outfit from Shaun of the Dead for a book about the making of the film, and wore a very ‘mermaidy’ vintage bridesmaid dress to accompany Monique Roffey’s The Mermaid of Black Conch. It started out as a random thing I did to create some kind of consistent form of content on Instagram, but over time I realise it has actually had a bigger impact then I first thought. 

My first book and a look combo was a simple, and accidental one. Having taken a picture of my latest book in preparation for my review (the brilliant Absorbed by Kylie Whitehead) I noticed that the monochrome cover worked quite nicely with the black and white polka dot dress I happened to be wearing that day. And from that an idea was born, and I decided I would have a go at doing it every week, and seeing what combinations I could come up with. This decision was also one that I thought would help me have a bit more fun with clothes having spent the best part of two years working from my dining room table, with most of my clothes that I previously ‘saved for best’ hanging in the wardrobe unworn. One thing I have taken away from the past couple of years is to not save things for best, and so I am now regularly trying on new clothes and sharing them on Instagram alongside my beloved books (as well as outdoors when I do venture out to be sociable!) 

I have had some lovely feedback on my series of posts and it’s great to see that people seem to enjoy seeing them, with the added bonus that it has given me the chance to share pictures of older books and books that I have owned for a long time that I might not have thought about in a while. So I hope that as well as sharing my outfits I also encourage people to pick up a book that may have gone under the radar that they might love. But one comment that I received a few months ago really stuck with me. It was from someone who said they felt empowered by my posts, and the confidence that I show. This was a lovely thing to hear, but also a strange one for me as someone who has always been very shy. I don’t think the Natalie of a year or two ago would have posted a regular selfie, let alone a couple of pictures per week – including one wearing swimwear and another wearing a big straw hat! This reinforces how much my love of reading (and floaty dresses) has helped build up my confidence, and my ability to embrace my own personal sense of style a little more. I am still someone who is self-conscious of their appearance, as I am sure many people can relate, and I still take dozens of photos which get critiqued by me before I choose one that I think looks acceptable! But it feels like a positive step, and one in which I can have a little fun, and continue to share my love of books along the way. 

So in conclusion to this rambling post I would like to thank everyone who has commented and enjoyed my posts over the last several months, it has been fun seeing people’s reactions. And as an awkward thirty-something slowly emerging from her nerdy little shell, I hope it encourages others to feel good about themselves, to wear the fancy top previously saved for a special occasion, to buy the dress they love but don’t know where to wear it to, and to embrace their own style. 

If you would like to follow me on Instagram you can find me on @theowlonthebookshelf

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