Everyone has a memoir in miniature in at least one piece of clothing. In Worn Stories, Emily Spivack has collected over sixty of these clothing-inspired narratives from cultural figures and talented storytellers. First-person accounts range from the everyday to the extraordinary, such as artist Marina Abramovic on the boots she wore to walk the Great Wall of China; musician Rosanne Cash on the purple shirt that belonged to her father; and fashion designer Cynthia Rowley on the Girl Scout sash that informed her business acumen. Other contributors include Greta Gerwig, Heidi Julavits, John Hodgman, Brandi Chastain, Marcus Samuelsson, Piper Kerman, Maira Kalman, Sasha Frere-Jones, Simon Doonan, Albert Maysles, Susan Orlean, Andy Spade, Paola Antonelli, David Carr, Andrew Kuo, and more. By turns funny, tragic, poignant, and celebratory, Worn Stories offers a revealing look at the clothes that protect us, serve as a uniform, assert our identity, or bring back the past—clothes that are encoded with the stories of our lives.
Spivak, creator of the Smithsonian's fashion blog, Threaded, assembles a charming collection of one- or two-page essays about favorite items of clothing, each one accompanied on the facing page by a photo of the particular item. Contributors as disparate as mumblecore queen Greta Gerwig, attorney Ross Intelisano, music critic Sasha Frere-Jones, chef April Bloomfield, and performance artist Marina Abramovic, among others, are invited to opine here. Highlights include a tribute to a practical dress and to a garment manufacturer grandfather, "the man who dressed New York" from Jill Meisner (of Refinery 29). Also notable is Spivak's own loquacious ode to a pair of flip-flops worn "precisely, perhaps, because they are so ordinary." Author Heidi Julavits, meanwhile, closely studies her privileged neighbors' insouciant style of dress: "threadbare flannels with paint stains, patched jeans, faded and torn polo shirts." The simple photos of each beloved item a T-shirt here, a pair of work boots there are intimate and sweet. Spivak has created a fashion book for everyone who feels that so far they have been left out of the fun. 62 illus.