BY: MAEGAN J
Women in Clothes is a survey-style fashion tome edited by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton. I came across this book three years ago and it immediately became a very pivotal book for me in my fashion journey. What I love about Women in Clothes is that there are no aspirational quotes from designers or tastemakers and no advice on how to achieve a timeless style. Instead, Women in Clothes leans into exploring clothing as self-hood, clothing as armor, and clothing as a means to both reveal and conceal.
Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton
The premise of the entire book is simple: the three writers sought to fill a void in the fashion world by asking a multitude of women from different economic backgrounds, ages, professions, and even gender expressions, questions about what they thought about clothing and getting dressed. Some of the questions include: “What is your process for getting dressed in the morning?” “What are you considering?” “Do you think you have taste or style?” “What do those words mean to you?” “What sorts of things do you do, clothing - or make up - or hair -wise, to feel sexy or alluring?”
The answers are varied, surprising, and hysterical, but most of all they are extremely vulnerable and human. In addition to the survey responses, the book is interspersed with short stories, photos of clothing collections submitted from different women, and clothing “experiments”. In one of my favorite clothing experiments, entitled Thirty-Six Women, artist Miranda July photographed six women wearing one another’s favorite outfits.
Those of you interested in street fashion will find this book to be a welcome addition to your personal library. Women in Clothes manages to discuss fashion from an anthropological perspective without getting bogged down by jargon. Rather than quoting fashion professionals, Women in Clothes avoids making this book aspirational and instead offers a refreshing take on personal style and the cultural significance of clothing. If you are fascinated by why people wear what they wear and what they are trying to communicate to the outside world with their outfits, then this book is definitely for you.
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