Bookish Style: The Women of The Vacationers

In my last post, I wrote about the vivid female perspectives of The Vacationers, by Emma Straub. Since Franny, Sylvia, and Carmen are so fleshed out, and because I am such a fan of College Fashion’s Looks from Books, I thought it would be fun to create vacation style sets for each.

I admit that Sylvia and Franny are perhaps a bit less polished than these sets would imply—both don old t-shirts at times in the novel, and at one point Sylvia is described as wearing scuffed-up sneakers. But for me, these sets portray an ideal style for each—one that communicates something of their dreams and personalities.


A seasoned magazine journalist with a down-to-earth outlook, Franny’s go-to traveling ensemble is described as “a pair of black leggings, a black cotton tunic that reached her knees, and a gauzy scarf to keep her warm on the airplane.” While her daughter Sylvia doesn’t seem impressed by the outfit, it has a certain elegance that’s matched by this navy tunic featuring detailed embroidery. These slingback sandals by Sanuk (maker of very comfy flip-flops, in my experience) add a dash of color along with functional appeal, as does this highlighter-yellow wide-brimmed hat. The classic halter one-piece suits Franny’s stalwart elegance—at one point Straub likens her to a “movie star who had relaxed into stout-bodied middle age.” As the family matriarch and cook, Franny wouldn’t go on any excursion without a supply of portable snacks tucked neatly into tupperware-like containers.


Along with Franny, Sylvia—the youngest member of the Post family—seems to occupy the heart of the novel. Armed with a notebook and earbuds, she slips into her own thoughts on the plane to Mallorca. The bookish 18-year-old makes a very specific vacation to-do list that contains one major item: “Lose virginity.” (Straub wrote about her inspiration for this plot point here.)

Sensible-but-adventurous Sylvia reads in the shade of a beach umbrella and would likely tote no-fuss basics like a tube of chapstick and a tastefully-girly beach towel. Sylvia crushes on her hunky Spanish tutor, and when they finally venture outside the vacation house together, Sylvia wears a pair of oversized sunglasses and a daisy-print dress. I think a pair of cute and current canvas teacup shoes would complement the carefree sundress while accommodating Sylvia’s practical bent.


Amongst the Post family and friends, Carmen, a personal trainer from Miami, is an outlier. But her determination and clear-sightedness give boyfriend Bobby Post the impetus he lacks and help move the story along.

Carmen is highly athletic, with a toned physique and an active lifestyle. She wears clothes that allow her to work out at a moment’s notice. She could definitely pull off this little red bikini, but she’d probably keep a pair of running shoes within easy reach, just in case.

Carmen is a mixture of hard and soft traits, and ultimately, she earns a certain amount of respect from the literary Post family. Her strong, feminine qualities play out in her evening ensemble. For a night on the town, I imagine her in a Miami-appropriate pair of red and black stilettos, with a sassy, spiked crossbody bag. A form-fitting white dress and a tropical flower tucked behind one ear pay homage to the wedding she daydreams about while in Mallorca.

What do you think? Which vacation style is your favorite? Do fictional characters inspire your sartorial choices?



5 thoughts on “Bookish Style: The Women of The Vacationers

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