THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Women in Clothes is a book unlike any other. It is essentially a conversation among hundreds of women of all nationalities—famous, anonymous, religious, secular, married, single, young, old—on the subject of clothing, and how the garments we put on every day define and shape our lives.
It began with a survey. The editors composed a list of more than fifty questions designed to prompt women to think more deeply about their personal style. Writers, activists, and artists including Cindy Sherman, Kim Gordon, Kalpona Akter, Sarah Nicole Prickett, Tavi Gevinson, Miranda July, Roxane Gay, Lena Dunham, and Molly Ringwald answered these questions with photographs, interviews, personal testimonies, and illustrations.
Even our most basic clothing choices can give us confidence, show the connection between our appearance and our habits of mind, express our values and our politics, bond us with our friends, or function as armor or disguise. They are the tools we use to reinvent ourselves and to transform how others see us. Women in Clothes embraces the complexity of women’s style decisions, revealing the sometimes funny, sometimes strange, always thoughtful impulses that influence our daily ritual of getting dressed.
Thoughtfully crafted and visually entertaining, this collection, edited by Heti (How Should A Person Be?), Julavits (The Vanishers), and Shapton (Swimming Studies), uses personal reflections from 642 contributors to examine women's relationship with clothes in a deceptively lighthearted and irreverent tone. Reminiscent of women's collaborative book projects from the 1970s, women (and a few men) are quoted in survey responses, essays, artworks, and recorded snippets of conversation. Though the book satisfies voyeuristic pleasures, on a basic level, it also inspires meaningful questions by virtue of its structure; contributions are well-organized in short sections (participants like Lena Dunham and Cindy Sherman are granted longer entries) with surprising juxtapositions for example, rapid-fire answers to the editors' survey questions about shopping sit comfortably next to an essay on the political and personal implications of wearing a head scarf. The prose is spliced with striking visuals, such as photos of actress Zosia Mamet (Girls) imitating 50 poses from fashion magazine covers, and many passages yield deeper revelations: "What I Spent" uses a diary-style record of clothing and toiletry purchases to examine the effect that physical difference, such as scoliosis, has on self-presentation and confidence. A provocative time capsule of contemporary womanhood, this collection is highly recommended. B&w illus and photos throughout, 32 pages in full color.