“Tracy Tynan uses the universal medium of clothing to tell the highly specific story of her bohemian British upbringing, and she does so with wit, candor, and yes—style” (Lena Dunham).
Tracy Peacock Tynan grew up in London in the 1950’s and 60s, privy to her parents’ glamorous parties and famous friends—Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, and Orson Welles. Cecil Beaton and Katharine Hepburn were her godparents. These stylish showbiz people were role models for Tracy, who became a clotheshorse at a young age.
Tracy’s father, Kenneth Tynan, was a powerful theater critic and writer for the Evening Standard, The Observer, and The New Yorker. Her mother was Elaine Dundy, a successful novelist and biographer, whose works have recently been revived by The New York Review of Books. Both of Tracy’s parents, particularly her father, were known as much for what they wore as what they wrote.
In her “moving, candid, and often hilarious” memoir (Wall Street Journal), Tracy recalls her father’s dandy attire and her mother’s Pucci dresses, as well as her parents’ rancorous marriage and divorce, her father’s prodigious talents and celebrity lifestyle, and her mother’s lifelong struggle with addiction. She tackles issues big and small—relationships, marriage, children, stepchildren, blended families, her parent’s decline and deaths, and her work as a costume designer—with humor, insight, and with the special joy that can only come from finding the perfect outfit. “A powerful concoction of famous names, famous fashions, and famous psychiatric disorders…Wear and Tear is just the thing for a weekend in the Hamptons” (New York Post).
Hollywood costume designer Tynan begins her juicy yet touching memoir by recounting the challenges of growing up in London as the only child of legendary theater critic Kenneth Tynan, creator of the avant-garde revue Oh Calcutta!, and novelist Elaine Dundy, who divorced Kenneth on Tynan's 13th birthday. During breaks from boarding school, Tynan spent most of her time in the U.S. with her mother, who moved to New York to reinvent herself. Tynan was able to detect her mother's alcoholism at a young age and vividly recalls her mother's embarrassing behavior while under the influence. Tynan's love of and fascination with clothing became the guiding force in her life. Descriptions of outfits or items of clothing are woven into the narrative as she recounts encountering family friends such as Orson Welles and Tennessee Williams and becoming attuned to her mother's addiction and her father's well-known penchant for sadomasochism. Tynan captures the hedonism of London in the swinging '60s, and the emotional journey of a survivor.