Book Report: Women In Clothes

Women In ClothesWhat’s The Buzz?: Well for one thing, September is kind of when the fashion industry explodes upon itself. With the heartiest issues of fashion mags hitting the stands, clothing and fall wardrobes are on the minds of many. As the title of this book implies, it is a nonfiction tome about clothes, and to a degree, fashion. Women In Clothes has earned tons of buzz over the last little bit in part because of its novel concept – which I’ll explain in a moment – but also because of its uniquely mixed bag of contributors, from everyday women to more notable names like Girls’ Lena Dunham and Molly Ringwald.

What’s The Plot?: Women In Clothes started as a vague concept by one of the three editors (Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton). Sheila was going through a transition in her life (post-divorce, new relationship) that made her think about style for the first time in her life. She posited a survey at Heidi, suggesting she might actually write an article in terms of how women define their personal styles or what they consider fashionable. From there, the concept snowballed, with dozens more questions added to the original list of about 10 (sample question series: “What are the shopping habits you follow? Are you always looking? Do you only look for particular pieces when you need them?”) and literally hundreds of women surveyed from all walks of life. This book is essentially a compendium of these varied perspectives on dressing, fashion, style, shopping, clothing, comfort, trends, and more. From Podcast transcripts to first-person essays, to photo collages of a woman’s particular ‘collection’ of an item, to commentaries on photos of their moms, to yes, answers to those survey questions, this book is chockful of personal, intriguing takes on all aspects of clothing.

Do I Need To Care About Fashion?: Generally speaking, no. The ladies who edited Women In Clothes point out at the beginning that they made this as sort of a response to the traditional ‘fashion books’ on the shelves, all of which they felt were too specific or too tied into the author’s sense of style. But let me unpack that a bit more. What this book is meant to do is to open up your horizons when it comes to fashion and style. It is by no means a traditional guide on ‘how to dress’. It is, however, a sort of anthropological collection of what clothing means to women today – so if you have no interest in that, well then, you won’t get much out of this book. But it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Vogue-subscribing fashionista or a mom of three that’s looking to get her groove back, this insightful book has something for anyone with even the faintest interest in a trip to the mall (or wherever you obtain your clothes).

639 Contributors – Sounds Like A Massive Book. How Long Is It?: Short answer – long. Women In Clothes is quite dense (another departure from a standard fashion book), with small type text filling up columns on every page. While there are plenty of photos interjected, one novel aspect of this compendium is the fact the editors deliberately chose not to include each woman’s photograph with whatever aspect of her fashionable self she was sharing. It really opens up your mind in a neat way to read these stories and answers, image-free. But yeah, the book is brick-sized, and I wouldn’t recommend sitting down and trying to absorb it all at once. It’s the kind of thing you can page through while waiting for water to boil, or to unwind right before bed, or even as an alternative to skimming a magazine while chilling on your patio. This is basically a fashion textbook, but it’s by no means boring. I mostly recommend spacing out your reading so you can absorb and marvel over each little entry.

Who Should Read This Book?:  Like I mentioned above, this book really works for all levels of interest in fashion (and all ages – it’s so not targeted to twenty-somethings). One of the reasons I was so excited to include it on the Canadian Gift Guide is I think it would make a really thoughtful, savvy gift for your girlfriends and sisters this upcoming holiday season (or perhaps for a fall birthday), with a fab price point of just $34.95. Part of me can also see giving this to a young girl, perhaps in junior high or high school, as sort of an introduction to style and fashion beyond following the proverbial teenage herd. Just a thought 🙂

Women In Clothes is available at fine booksellers nationwide, so snap up a copy for yourself and every gal in your life that could use a little fashionable perspective. Plus, I’ve got a copy of the book to gift to one lovely reader! Here’s how to enter for your chance to win:

1) Tell me in the comments below by October 8, 2014 – Tell me why you’re keen to read Women In Clothes? What kind of interest do you have in fashion in general?

2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around October 9, 2014 to select the winner(s), who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.

3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.

4) Bonus Entry: Follow Penguin Canada on Twitter, tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet about why you’d love to read this book. Post a link to your Tweet below to earn yourself an extra entry into the draw.

5) Bonus Entry #2: Add this book to your to-read list on GoodReads, and leave a link back to the page it’s on below to earn yourself another bonus entry.

33 Responses to “Book Report: Women In Clothes”
  1. Aria says:

    I’ve lost some weight lately so I’m thinking about clothes more, this book might help with that.

  2. Susan says:

    I know that my niece would love this book as she has always had an interest in fashion and starting designing her doll’s clothes very early in life.

  3. cookie3 says:

    Used to have a great interest in fashion until a specific health problem has forced me to wear clothes that are not constrictive but very soft in a certain area of my body.For sure the current trend of skinny jeans is a nightmare for me at the moment. I’d love to read the book though.

  4. Paige says:

    I’ve heard about this book and I can’t wait to read it. I love fashion blogs (and yours) and reading about fashion in general.

  5. prim says:

    you had me at ‘clothes’ – this sounds like an interesting read

  6. Joan G. says:

    I’d like this book so I can share it with my friends and have some fun making fashion decisions over a few glasses of wine.

  7. beewbedard says:

    love clothes and fashion

  8. janicour says:

    I love clothes, I would be interested to read this book.

  9. janicour says:

  10. Elaan says:

    I am very interested in style, since I seem to lack it. 🙂 I’d love to read this book!

  11. Elaan says:

  12. lucy kabatoff says:

    would love to read this book

  13. intensev5 says:

    I love fashion and this would be a great book for me.

  14. Cynthia Wandler says:

    I am interested to read about the feelings other women around the world where clothes is concerned and find out what we have in common with them.

  15. Athena says:

    It looks like it would be an interesting read, and I love fashion!

  16. sonya says:

    I’d like to win this. Sounds interesting.

  17. Steph says:

    I would love to read this to get me inspired for the changing seasons (and changing wardrobe!)

  18. Janet says:

    I would love to read this as I have a lifelong interest in styles and trends and just what people are wearing.

  19. Susan T. says:

    I love fashion and actually wrote my thesis on Roman period clothing, jewelery and hair styles.

  20. Susan T. says:

    My tweet:
    I follow on twitter as @suekitty13

  21. Dreena says:

    I’d like to read this book as I have an interest in style and fashion. It would be interesting to read about the thoughts of other women.

  22. Dreena says:

    Bonus tweet and follower of Penguin Canada:

  23. I love fashion in general and like to keep up with trends.

  24. Love fashion so I’d like to read this!

  25. Megan Young says:

    I need a new book to read and this one sounds really cool. I love fashion and flipping through Vogue magazine imagining I could buy and wear all of the things in print.

  26. Nancy says:

    I love style and second hand is good enough for me.

  27. prim says:

    I keep on seeing this book everywhere, so i’m curious to read what it’s all about.

  28. Aimee says:

    I need style advice. Maybe this book will help

  29. Jessica Lord says:

    I would love to have this for my daughter

  30. Janet M says:

    I am interested in fashion and know young people who also may be interested.

  31. Janet M says:

    janet m ‏@asherares 8s9 seconds ago

    @PenguinCanada @cdngiftguide Women In clothes is on my to read list as I love all things fashion.

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