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Your Random Style Icon: Dorothy Parker

March 26, 2012

L-A: Much like Angela Chase, Dorothy Parker was totes my high school icon. More of a mental icon than a fashion icon, but still. Icon.

It started when I had to pick an author for a level two (or grade eleven) lit class and I found a copy of the Portable Dorothy Parker on a bottom shelf of the public library. That shit was life changing, y’all. I still remember finding it, that’s how big a deal it was. Because when you’re a mopey 15 year old girl, this just speaks to you:

Some men break your heart in two,

Some men fawn and flatter,

Some men never look at you;

And that clears up the matter.

I bet you thought I’d go for the men seldom make passes or the three martinis I’m under the table, but no. The former was a big deal, but it was all huge. And the latter I didn’t discover the truth of until I was in my 20s and martinis were making a fashionable comeback. Anyway, my copy of the portable Dorothy Parker is one my most favourite books:

Reading Dorothy Parker was like having a sarcastic and wise older sister who had been there, done that, drank with the boys and would tell you tales of it. So I’ve decided the lady should be one of my style icons. Which may seem odd considering the following photo:

Replace typewriter with a mac and you've pretty much got what I look like when I write blog posts.

But I’m serious. You could totally take this literary icon and turn her into a style icon. She did write for Vogue, after all.

How to have mad literary stylez like Dorothy Parker

typewriter optional

1. Great bangs and a shirt dress are where it’s at.

One of my great life problems, which goes to show I live a pretty solid life, is that I will never be able to wear a shirt dress. They just don’t look good on me. The day I find one that fits right in all places and is flattering is going to be a banner day. I will probably mark that day annually with a cake and a scotch based drink (but not scotch on it’s own. More on this later). But a girl can dream.

this dress is not made for a girl with hips.


The shirt dress says you’ve got style, but you’re busy. Busy thinking of the next bon mots that will amaze the room. Busy thinking of things to write (or whatever it is you do during your day).

2. A simple, yet great, hat.

Dorothy lived during a time when wearing hats all the time were a Thing. But the photos of her in hats don’t feature fancy hats. No, for the same reason she wore the shirt dress, she wore a hat that wasn’t terribly fussy.

While an everyday hat isn’t necessary, you can’t go wrong with owning an awesome hat. 


3. Florals are totally okay

Dorothy didn’t seem to be overly fussy in her style, but she still wore a floral from time to time. I think she probably kept it simple, maybe a wrap blouse, preferably in a material that didn’t need a lot of ironing. Like maybe this.


Or this.


Like Dorothy when she wrote captions for Vogue, I'm fully aware that $1200 for a blouse is a bit ridiculous.

Both cute. Both work practical.

4. Drink with the boys, but wear pearls.

Just because your wit and liver can keep up with the boys doesn’t mean you can’t dress like a lady. Two things that may impress folks when it comes to drinks: ordering coffee black (it means you are serious about your coffee) and drinking old man drinks – so when you say you want a stiff drink, you mean it. These should have prohibition or 1930s themes. Sidecars, old fashioneds, what have you.

I do know that knowing your scotches impresses folks, but as scotch has the taste equivalent of punches and poisons, I will never do more than a scotch based sort of drink.

But I’m thinking I want to start wearing pearls again. And not just for fancy occasions. I need to look into casual pearls.

5. Apparently men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses. So get a good pair and prove Dorothy wrong.

If the movie with Jennifer Jason Leigh is to be believed (don’t bother to watch it…it’s deadly boring), Dorothy wore them while working (she certainly didn’t wear them for photos). She also apparently drank coffee and scotch while working. So, take Dorothy’s advice in moderation. Get an awesome pair of glasses and wear them when you damn well please. And save the stiff drink for outside working hours.

6. Write amusing notes about why your work isn’t done on time.


Writers block happens. And I imagine so too does accountant’s block or policy analyst’s block. So be clever like Dorothy when telling them your work isn’t quite done*. Bonus points for sending it in a telegram. (*we at FPQT take no responsibility for the reaction of your boss if they are not impressed with your telegram. Although, they should at least be impressed that you know how to send a telegram).

9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2012 9:35 am

    Jumpy claps! Dorothy Parker is THE BEST.

    • la permalink*
      March 26, 2012 3:43 pm

      WordPress tried to say this was spam. So not spam. Agree on the Dorothy Parker. She’s on my list of heroes.

      • March 26, 2012 8:02 pm

        What the what!? How rude! Said Dorothy: “This wasn’t just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it.”

  2. March 26, 2012 10:05 am

    I love Dorothy Parker but I’d never really thought of her as a style icon. She so is though!

    • la permalink*
      March 27, 2012 10:27 pm

      I actually hadn’t given her much thought as a style icon until I started writing…and then I realized she totally is. And her choice of florals is kind on trend for spring.

  3. March 27, 2012 10:18 pm

    Yep, Dot is my hero, too. I love “One Perfect Rose” and got all weepy and swoony and totally geeky at the Algonquin on my Dorothy Parker pilgrimage/excuse for overpriced martinis. Thanks for pointing out how STYLISH Mrs. Parker was!

    • la permalink*
      March 27, 2012 10:28 pm

      One Perfect Rose is the tops. I love it. Every time I try to choose a favourite of her poems, I find a new favourite.

      I’ve yet to actually stop for drinks at the Algonquin…but it’s totally going to happen and I will gladly pay through the nose for one. (Maybe on my Christmas trip to NYC).


  1. Top Five Things I’d Been Better Without | Fashionable People, Questionable Things.
  2. They will make passes when you wear these glasses | Fashionable People, Questionable Things.

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