Fashion Inspiration: Shakespeare’s Ophelia

Fashion Inspiration: Shakespeare's Ophelia
Dress – River Island; Cardigan – Uniqlo; Rings – Etsy, 1928; Sandals – Charlotte Russe; Lipstain – Pixi Beauty in “Radiant Rose,” Nail Polish – Essie in “Very Structured.”

Nerd alert: The character of Ophelia, from Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, has been on my mind after recently revisiting Queen Gertrude’s soliloquy Queen Gertrude about the young woman’s death. It’s regarded as one of the most poetic deaths in theatre, and an unlikely source of fashion inspiration. The scene as described by Gertrude, however, includes vivid descriptions and is the inspiration for many artists, as seen in the nineteenth-century painting Ophelia (pictured above).

The scene: the fragile, and possibly insane, Ophelia drowns in a river after falling from a tree while collecting flowers for a garland. The flower motif is seen in the floral print maxi dress and the various flower cocktail rings. Shakespeare describes her clothing “spread wide” and “mermaid-like,” and is reflected in the loose silhouette of the maxi dress and draped cardigan. (A long necklace or bangles would weigh down the look and make it too bohemian.)

For a beauty look inspired by Ophelia, wear your hair in relaxed mermaid waves. The colors in the painting are primarily muted neutrals, like forest green, with the exception of the flowers which are almost a cranberry shade. Slick on berry lip color (Pixi makes my favorite lipstain), and paint your nails an interesting neutral (Shakespeare refers to Ophelia’s “muddy death,” so I choose this brown shade) to tie the color palette together.

Would you wear this outfit (if it was warm enough)? Have you ever been inspired by literature or theatre, fashion-wise?

~ Sarah