Thursday, October 17, 2013


Photo credit: Melanie Dunea

I haven't read Donna Tartt's cult classic The Secret History or her critically acclaimed second novel The Little Friend but I have joyfully allowed myself to be swept up by the total mania surrounding her much anticipated third novel The Goldfinch. I have ordered all her books and while waiting, I have been scouring the web for interviews and biographical pieces.

The one thing that I have come to adore about Tartt, the woman, is that she is so erudite and well-read, that nobody feels any qualms about discussing her very carefully cultivated style. She is so obviously and disarmingly knowledgeable that nobody fears that discussing her singular look would undermine her intellect. Finally, she comes across as so authentically comfortable in her own skin that (in the rare occasion she's agreed to be interviewed) she is happy to discuss her sartorial choices.

Here's a little list of Donna Tartt style tidbits that I have collected and am excited to share with you:

- she used to keep her cigarettes in an ostrich-skin case; she doesn't smoke anymore.
- she is quite petite, only 5 feet tall; "I'm the exact same size as Lolita"
- she loves clothes and loves to buy vintage: 'But vintage clothes work well on me. People used to be smaller. In vintage shops they always say, "Gosh we're glad someone's come along who fits this jacket."'
- she says that she was a tomboy as a child and had no interest in conforming to others' expectations of how a girl should be.
- she still feels funny about "women's costume": 'To really put on high heels and a frilly dress, do you know what I'm saying? It seems kind of... comical.'
- she has a long-standing love affair with men's suits. Her college friend and writer Bret Easton Ellis remembers that while they were at Bennington College in Vermont, they would go to a party and everybody would be wearing black and she would show up 'dressed in a seersucker suit, cigarette in one hand, gin and tonic in the other'.
- she is famous for her "shiny Louise Brooks bob"
- she wears boys' clothes from Gap Kids
- she is "perpetually dressed-up": "If you went to her room at 4am, you'd find her sitting at her desk, smoking a cigarette, wearing a perfectly pressed white shirt buttoned to the top, collar studs, trousers with a knife crease."
- she wears a replica of a Viking ring that was given to her by a stranger in Helsinki before 9/11: I wear it to remind me that nice things can happen.

Please point me to other pieces you think I may have missed.


  1. Thanks for this! I love The Secret History back in 2003 or 2004 and had no idea it was such a hit when I picked it up. The Little Friend didn't capture my imagination the way The Secret History did but I think I never quite relate to protaganists when they're too young; but it was still really well-written, so vivid.

    I don't actually know much about Donna Tartt so it was fun reading the piece...I love the last part about her portrait.

    Oh, and you can reach me at outofthebaaag(at)gmail(dot).com

    1. Lin, I just saw your comment. Strange!
      I will send you an email in a minute.

  2. She sounds interesting. I really like her in the photo, it's like her personality is shining through. Maybe I sound a bit cheesy!

    1. Thank you for your note, Maxens! May be cheesy, but I agree. I am absolutely fascinated with Donna Tartt- the woman- in addition to Donna Tartt- the writer. I look forward to checking out YOUR blog!