Friday, December 30, 2016

Completed: Women in Clothes

Dear Jenny,

This book! Oh, this book! 

When you gave me this book, I initially thought, "Really? A 500+ page book of what? Short stories or some shit?" I know -- that's bitchy. I admit it. So I added it to my TBR list so I knew that I would pick it up, rather than letting it fester on my shelf forever.  (See? That's love. :)

And then... I began to read this book. And I loved this book. I read some of it every day for weeks and I was genuinely sad when I was done with it. Like, crushed. "Wait. What? There's no more?"

I have given this book to several friends who, I can tell, have the "Really? 500+ pages of what? Short stories or some shit?" reaction and I just hope that they can get past it long enough to read the first story/vignette/chapter/etc. so they, too, will get hooked.

What makes this book so f'ing great? Rock-damned-solid EDITING. 

I mean, the content is terrific, but these women took SO MUCH content and then grabbed only the very best of it and compiled it so beautifully and artfully into this book. Lemme splain. (No. There is too much. Lemme sum up. Heh.)

The authors' names on the front of this books are "Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavitz, Leanne Shapton & 639 others." 639 others! Whaaaa---? These women sent this survey about fashion and to over 600 women from all walks of life, all corners of the world, etc. 

And when I say "Survey" (survey questions are given at the front of the book) I'm talking over 100 questions. And good questions with good follow-up questions. Like: "Do you think you have taste or style? Which is more important? What do those words mean to you?" (11) or "Tell us about something in your closet that you keep, but never wear. What is it, why don't you wear it, and why do you keep it?" (12) 

And then they spent years choosing the best of the best of the responses and compiling this book. 

But wait! There's more! It's not just a bunch of survey answers, slapped together. Oooo.... noooo! It is a dissection of all of this information and a strategic re-organization of all of the data in the best possible ways to make each vignette the most interesting thing it can be.

What do I mean? Well, there area a bunch of chapters that take out survey responses that pertain to one single topic. For instance: "Handmade" [249] -- there are only 13 responses here that deal with the topic (remember -- they sent this to over 600 people!) so you KNOW these are the very best. That, my friend, is some heroic editing.

There is also a bunch of art and art projects throughout. Like... six strangers each wearing each other's favorite outfits [157] No shit. It's wonderful (Really. Just that project is worth reading this book!) (Molly Ringwald is one of the six strangers. I also loved that). There are also running features (women reporting on compliments they have gotten -- little snippets throughout the book that say "Compliment" at the top, then the item in question and then the story). And photographs --- oh, the photographs! ("Send a photograph of your mother before she had children and tell us what you see" [331] So great!) And interviews! And essays! And a fantastic well-organized (by category) TOC at the front, so you can easily find all the stuff in the book!

And the contributions are from all kinds of people from everywhere around the world. So many different cultural views. Transgender women and men, famous women, not-so-famous women. Heavy women, thin women. Old women, young women. Oh, you get the picture. And in the back of the book, a sentence or two about every. single. contributor. [500] So great! 

So... I just took this picture of my book. Each of those flags represents something I wanted to tell you about when I was reading it. But just flipping through it again to write this review made me keep saying, "Oh, and there was this awesome thing! And THIS awesome thing!" And... you know... just read it yourself.

I left it on the dining room table and I read 10-20 pages over coffee every morning. It was the BEST start to my day the entire time I did it. Maybe I need to do it again -- I know I missed a lot. Also... sheesh. Gotta grab the good things where we can right now, amiright?

Can you tell I loved this book? 
Thanks for giving it to me -- I'm sorry I doubted you. xoxo


PS -- More cool! There's a list of all of the questions on the Women in Clothes website with links, so you can see all of the responses that they got. 

1 comment:

  1. Aw, I'm so glad it was good. I'll admit that I never read this book--I just read a review of it and thought, "I bet Kelly would like this!" I remember thinking that we talked so much about clothes, and "the uniform" and that the whole idea of the book was a lot like how we talked about clothes when we were together.

    It sounds so fantastic, I just ordered myself a copy!