It’s not uncommon for people to match who or what they like. Children wear the costumes of their favorite superheroes and princesses. Couples coordinate their clothes for dates or events.
Likewise, Fox Point’s Debora O’Donnell wears outfits that match her âlifelong loveâ: books.
His Instagram, @oh_apostrophe, has rows upon rows of her in clothes that complement the covers of the books she holds.
O’Donnell started creating these posts as a “pandemic project” and is now watching his Instagram community grow.
In 2020, O’Donnell was reflecting on what was really important to her. Two long-standing passions come to mind: fashion and books.
As she looked at the cover of a book she was reading, she remembered that she was wearing a matching outfit.
There ! She got the idea to start matching her look to the book covers and then posting pictures of them on Instagram.
How her Instagram grew
O’Donnell’s first article like this featured “Garner’s Modern American Usage,” which had a dark blue cover and a sky blue binding. She wore a petticoat skirt and shoes in the same tones.
âFrom a brand perspective, it’s always great to establish a brand, to have a hook,â said O’Donnell, senior copy expert for Kohl’s. “I was like, ‘Well, that’s how I’m going to establish my brand … But I wanted to go beyond that.”
She quickly added book reviews under the caption sections of her posts.
âIt’s really a platform for me to talk about great books, share my love of fashion, and tell these reviews filtered through my own experiences,â she said. “In a way, I think everything I write is a little glimpse of who I am, what I think about and my ideas.”
âThe support has been incredible,â she said. “As nervous as I was about showing myself or revealing a part of myself in my writingâ¦ I was so happy to see how many people would say they were reading my reviews and eagerly awaiting my reviews. . It was just great having these conversations with people all over the world. ”
As of April 2020, she has posted approximately 213 posts on her Instagram and has gained over 3,650 followers.
The authors of the O’Donnell Features books and other big names, like Belletriste – the book club created by Emma Roberts and her best friend Karah Preiss – shared her posts on their Instagram Stories.
âIt’s always exciting when writers read your reviews,â O’Donnell said. âThe more people you can engage with and connect with through books, that’s what I love about this community on Instagram.â
Combine a long-standing love for books with an admiration for fashion
O’Donnell credits “Little Women” with making her a reader and writer around the age of 7 or 8. Since then, she has read it dozens of times and has collected over 20 copies.
“I never stopped reading,” said O’Donnell, a University of Dayton graduate with her BA in French and English and her MA in English.
Growing up, O’Donnell’s mother set a few rules: no books at the table.
âI would never put my book down,â O’Donnell said with a laugh.
And for every mystery book O’Donnell borrowed from the library, she should also check out a biography.
O’Donnell is still a huge fan of mysteries, but also enjoys thrillers, contemporary fiction, and grammar books, as well as stories of people whose experiences are different from his own.
âIt’s really important for me to diversify my reading,â she said. âI believe the path to empathy and compassion is through reading. You cannot immerse yourself in someone’s story and struggles on some 300 pages without bringing out a different, more enlightened person. … that’s why I love books so much. You get a glimpse into someone’s life and see what they’re going through. “
Currently, O’Donnell has about 62 books on his “TBR” list that “take” his nightstand, table, and counters.
âI love books so much and I just have to have them around,â she said.
While O’Donnell has read “so many great books by so many authors,” she said one of her most popular reads was “Possession” by AS Byatt, and a few of her favorite authors are Tana French, Lisa Jewell and Claire Fuller. .
Just as O’Donnell’s love for literature has stood the test of time, so has his passion for fashion.
âI have such an admiration for fashion,â she said. “Yes, I love it and it is beautiful, but there is also so much thought behind its creation.”
From 1999 to 2005, O’Donnell was a fashion editor for Marshall Field’s, which produced “beautiful” designer fashion catalogs. She formed an appreciation for “the stories the designers tell”.
Prior to Marshall Field’s, she taught part-time at her alma mater, edited for an Ohio publishing house, was a writer for BI Performance Services, and editor for Hazelden Publishing, both in Minnesota.
In 2005, she moved to Wisconsin to be Senior Copy Manager for Kohl’s, then rose through the ranks to her current role working on concepts, such as seasonal projects and new initiatives.
âIt really helped me with my own life and my own Instagram account,â she said. “I want to make sure that I establish a brand so that people know what to expect, that they recognize it, that they connect with it.”
How she creates her Instagram posts
Sometimes O’Donnell stumbles upon a book cover and then remembers seeing a skirt that matches him somewhere (maybe even in his own wardrobe) or vice versa.
âIt’s like a giant memory game,â she said.
Other times, she stumbles upon a blanket she adores and has to find some matching clothes.
âThe cover can certainly inspire me as there are a lot of beautiful book covers,â she said.
As for O’Donnell’s personal style, she’s all about vintage, especially the ’60s. She said there was “nothing” she likes more than a skirt with it on. a big crinoline.
Her “priority” is to buy second-hand items first, she said, finding many of her pieces at local thrift stores or online.
âYou can find a lot of really good pieces that way,â she said. “But it’s also a bit like a second job.”
Occasionally, she incorporates props into her photos. For her article on “Dear Emmie Blue” by Lia Louis, O’Donnell included a red balloon as one is clearly visible on her cover.
One of her favorite articles was the cover of “The Sun Down Motel” by Simone St. James. There’s a photo of a vintage motel sign, and O’Donnell said it was a “serendipity” that she also had a skirt with.
O’Donnell aims to read about two books a week and post two posts on Instagram.
For most of her photos, she sits on a tuft in her bedroom, then makes sure her skirt and book are placed correctly. She uses a ring lamp that her daughter gave her for Christmas. She references the mirror on her door to see the reflection of her iPhone screen, then takes about 20 photos.
âI’ve really, really come to appreciate the work of art directors and photographers, decorators and stylists,â she said. “It’s a little difficult to get everything working properly at the same time, right before you take this picture.”