Friday, 2 January 2009

Ways To Channel Miss Havisham In Everyday Life



As you might be aware, I have a deep-seated attraction to fashion eccentrics. Eccentrics in general. Seriously, give me a woman in a neck ruff made of peacock plumage, or who dances the tango in a public park wearing nothing but her bedroom slippers any day!

One of the great eccentrics of English literature is Dickens’s Miss Havisham, a woman who was spurned at the altar and from that day on, stopped the clocks in her house at twenty to nine, left her wedding feast to rot and never wore anything but her wedding dress ever again.

Her character has always been the strangest style icon to me – I have never fully understood why I am so aesthetically interested in her character. But nonetheless. Here are some ways to channel Miss Havisham in everyday life. Without, of course, going haggard and mad like the woman herself.


• Buy old white satin Victorian bodices from eBay that are falling apart. The silk might be shattering, or they might be yellowed with age. Cut off the sleeves or wear them open to reveal a camisole underneath.

• Wear only one shoe!

• Flit around your house in a white lace dress.

• Let your hair grow long and wild and tangled.

• Don piles and piles of old, bejeweled necklaces. Attach cameo pins to the necklaces. The look is excessive and luxe while also being tarnished and in a state of decay.

• Wear a white lace scarf to allude to her torn and ageing veils.

• Invite someone over for tea and cake – but demolish the cake before they arrive, and serve it to them in a pile of icing and crumbs!




Alternatively, Cuaron’s 1998 version of Great Expectations involves a different kind of Miss Havisham, renamed Ms. Dinsmoor and portrayed by the brilliant late Anne Bancroft. In the 1998 adaptation, Dinsmoor may trade in her wedding dress for forest green caftans, but remains as insane as ever. To channel the extravagant Ms Dinsmoor you need to:

• First and foremost: Develop a penchant for the colour green.

• Keep a green parrot in a giant cage.

• Dance to “Besame Mucho” in a green caftan, wearing false eyelashes and your hair styled in a short bob. Don’t forget to emphatically say “chicka boom, chicka boom boom” as you dance! Also, make sure you have martini nearby.

• Wear a green kimono and a green headscarf and lounge around listening to records.

• Wear long strings of pearls and smoke cigarettes (or chocolate cigarettes!) in a long cigarette holder.

• Learn to apply heavy black sixties eye makeup – smoky eyeshadow, false eyelashes and a cat’s eye applied using liquid eyeliner should do it. For a full tutorial, go here!

4 comments:

Sarah Von said...

Awesome and awesome.

nymph & cloud said...

i once compared myself to miss havisham in a livejournal post quite some time ago.
i do not want to ruin anyone's life though, least of all my own.

Fluffy said...

Awesome, awesome post!

I've never felt remotely attracted to any Dickens novel (should I be ashamed?) but I think your post gave me the boost I needed to pick him up at the library! XD So shallow of me, oh well!

Pony said...

Thanks, darlings!

ella - I can see miss havisham in you, in the decadence and the heart-on-her-sleeve, but I can't believe you would ever have her capacity for destruction. Not ever.

fluffy - Don't worry, I'm a former English major and I don't enjoy reading Dickens - he created some incredibly rich characters, but I generally find 19th century literature difficult to dig through :) I hope you enjoy him, though!