Traveling by Train: From Couture to Casual in Literature

Today I am currently aboard a train from Montreal to Toronto and it’s my favorite way to travel. I like the idea of a) being on solid ground, b) not being too cramped and c) not having to worry about gas or directions. But what I especially love about train travel is the literature it inspired. Some of my favorite novels are set on trains or include some train travel. A lot can happen when you’re in a confined space for a long period of time. Oh and I can’t forget about the fashion! People used to dress up when train travel was all the rage. The cars used to be lavishly decorated and comfortable. The food had to be better too. For me, traveling by train makes me think of gorgeous clothes, romantic encounters, mysterious circumstances, murder and even magic!

Here are my top favorite stories featuring a train and what I would wear should I suddenly find myself transported aboard:

Anna Karenina: I don’t need to underline the importance of trains in this novel. For such a tragic romantic story, I would need a gown that’s high drama like this velvet one from Oscar de la Renta. The color is dark and the embroidery is rich. The fabric is plush enough to withstand the cold Russian air. And the split is just high enough to entice a count.

Anna Karenina

Murder on the Orient Express: This is one of my favorite mystery novels of all time and a train as the location of a crime is simply brilliant. To be able to get away with murder, one would need a show-stopping dress and this creation from Gucci might just do the trick. This is something the young and fashionable Countess would wear. I think the ostrich feathers and sequins make this dress the spiritual sister of the novel’s scarlet kimono with dragons.


The Harry Potter Series: Who wouldn’t want to get a letter saying you’re a wizard, go on Platform 9 and 3/4 and board the Hogwarts Express?! I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t dreamt of that moment many times and even planned the perfect first day at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry outfit. Obviously, I’d be sorted into Gryffindor so I’d fit right in with this red striped Isabel Marant sweater and gold Isabel Marant for H&M scarf.


The Polar Express: This story is a Christmas classic and should I find myself en route to the North Pole, I’d want to be wearing my comfiest yet still stylish pyjamas. This set from DKNY comes to mind. Maybe I’ll put it on my wish list this year and cross my fingers for Santa to take the hint!

Polar Express

Train travel may have lost most of its glitz and glamour nowadays but hopefully this post makes one nostalgic for the sense of style and spirit of adventure it once represented. I’d be interested to know about any other great train stories and the fashion that can be inspired from them.


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Filed under Fandom, Fashion

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