The iconic style of Truman Capote

Never without a cigarette and an ageing heiress

‘The good thing about masturbation’ Truman Capote once said ‘is that you don’t have to dress up for it.’ Well, the author certainly seemed to dress up for just about everything else. The caustic voice of Mid-Century America, Capote’s style was a finely-honed parade of international influences and preppy asides: the heavy-rimmed glasses of the Italian intelligentsia; the jaunty boater of the Oxford undergraduate; the towelling playsuit of the riviera socialite; the pale seersucker of the Deep South plantation. ‘Good taste’ the writer would go on to say, ‘Is the death of art’ – a curious stance from a man who raised his own sartorial taste to an art form unto itself.

In the wardrobe: A bookish combination of fair Isle sweaters, WASP-ish polo shirts, thick knit cardigans (with the elbows worn out), and cuban collared shirts to suit his tropical inclinations. Always travelled with a panama hat (rollable), a club collar shirt and tie pin, and a silk-lapelled tuxedo.


Off the record: ‘Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go.’

Defining look: Horn-rimmed spectacles above a velvet bow tie.

Truman Capote, 1948

Never seen without: A drooping cigarette; an aging heiress.

Further Reading