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Target Underwear and a Vera Wang Gown: Notes from a Single Girl's Closet Hardcover – July 6, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; First Edition edition (July 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592402216
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592402212
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,090,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Halpern, a 30-something writer for Marie Claire, rehashes her life's pinnacles and pitfalls, epitomized by the clothing that marks seminal moments. Target undies constitute her covert economic side; the Vera Wang is her "breakup" gown, worn in solitude to buoy her spirits. Between these two extremes, each garment in Halpern's sartorial spectrum hooks to a stage in her life—from the Madonna-inspired do-rag that wowed her suburban high school to the hideous Lycra flower dresses in pre-Barneys Los Angeles, an omen that she's erred in moving there after attending college in New York. "Fashionista, I am not," she claims, but six-inch platforms, Fair Isle sweaters and Dolphin shorts induce torrents of memories relived in vivid, intimate detail. Prone to shopping benders, Halpern fixates on clothes to a frightening degree; her biggest romantic challenge is never to repeat a date outfit. Yet she has serious wit up her sleeve, belying her shallow posturing. Her shrewd eye for the image culture and its throttlehold over women, herself included, touches on the pressures of perfection. At times, Halpern overstates her points with an endless parade of anecdotal outfits. But her bubbly, sisterly writing glosses over any downers, freeing readers to bask in wardrobe nostalgia. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Formerly an East Coaster and now a West Coaster, editor Halpern tells the story of her love-hate affairs with clothing, from the very beginning in long-gone Philadelphia stores such as Bonwit Teller and Strawbridge & Clothier. Her story is recorded in chapters that each stand for every two years or so; for instance, 1982 is the year of LaCoste polo shirts; the tenth grade, an infatuation with Madonna; the makeshift prom dress; not to forget fake Pradas, six-inch heels, Target underwear, among many other items. Parallel anecdotes highlight her relationships with men--Adam, Evan, Pete--all of whom gravitate to her looks and, yes, overall appearance. What might resonate, in a morose psychological sense, is her dependence on style, not substance--a lesson for either gender searching for a long-term relationship.

Sullivan, on the other hand, applies a documentary-like examination to the indigo-cotton pants we call jeans, the ultimate in democratic clothing. Its origins were in Europe--well before San Francisco's Levi Strauss in the mid-1800s. Plus, jeans' history is detailed in tandem with American events: Teddy Roosevelt and John Wayne as proponents of Western culture; Rosie the Riveter, a symbol of female progress during world wars; Elvis and Brando, indicators of the glamorous rebel--all complete with photographs and interview snippets. Fascinating facts abound: $14 billion sold in 2004 in the U.S. alone and a suburban Illinois store with 14,000 pairs. Yet the bottom-line question, as always, remains: Do they flatten your butt? Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

This was a fun and witty book to read.
Dizziey
A nifty idea, but the writing is sloppy and the author is not nearly as funny as she thinks she is.
Savvy Sal
And I know someone like her would be miserable reading this book.
Jaide St. Claire

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Halpern will win you over if you give her a chance. From the title and the cover art, I wasn't sure if this book would be my cup of tea. The opening chapter is a grandiose attempt to define an entire life by formative childhood experiences in elegant downtown department stores. It's a forced thesis about an entire life via a shopping metaphor, but, fortunately, it is the weakest link to the whole book. The following essays really pick up and let the reader bond with Halpern.

Bonding is precisely what this book is about. I bonded with Halpern on her specific body flaws, her ridiculous attempts to compensate for her height with platform shoes and hooker heels all throughout her adult life, her female friendships, her off-the-wall dot com job, and her relationship struggles. Despite the cover and the subtitle, don't expect this to be a whiny female rant about personal flaws and interpersonal drama. It's a witty, over-the-top, self-satire that any modern gal will relate to. Halpern writes with the wisdom that comes from experience, so she is able to analyze the flaws in her logic during her younger years.

One of the turning points in the essay collection (which follows Halpern's life in a chronological fashion)

is her long-term relationship with a down-to-earth, fun-loving guy. Obsessed with presenting a perfect image for him and meeting his every need (or her imagined version of his needs), Halpern buries her true self so deep that the perfect man breaks up with her due to her superficiality. After a year of depression and unemployment, Halpern picks herself up and makes positive changes. Upon reading about this period in her life, I thought, a-ha! Creating that perfect image was exactly what Halpern tried and failed to do in her opening essay.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By K. Jovanovic on July 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When I picked up this book, I honestly had no idea what to expect. I pretty much went into it with no expectations; however, as soon as I started reading it I found that I couldn't put it down. It's a very easy, entertaining, true to life read. I think that it really shows what life is like for women living and growing up in a world obsessed with looks and material things and how this affects the way we feel about ourselves and our bodies. I recommend this book to any woman who's ever felt insecure about the way she looks or dresses.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E. Northrop on August 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This was one of the most enjoyable memoirs I've ever read. Ms. Halpern is a fantastic writer and memoirist, humorous, self-depracating, knowing, insightful, and brave.

I reveled in all the '80s-decade fashion and pop culture references, and could really relate to her mishaps in school, as most will. Her family descriptions were utterly delightful, heartwarming and memorable. The chapters that she shared her experience with her powerful producer boyfriend/fiance were super-brave. He definitely did not appreciate fully what he let go.

The chapter/essay about fragrances and how certain scents remind her of certain people were really relevant to me. I will forever think of my Grandma when I catch a whiff of Downy and White Shoulders.

I can't wait to see what Ms. Halpern does for an encore. I look forward to it expectantly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By F. Chloupek on July 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is a series of short stories that highlight anecdotes from the author's life -- largely revolving around her fashion choices that were going on during that period of her life.

Now, I'm the same age as Ms. Halpern, so I've been through the same fashions as her -- though from the XY side of the gene pool instead of the XX.

Still I can contribute my own fashion faux pas to the time (pegged Jeans and torn knees anyone? MC Hammer pants?) and expected this to be a fun light hearted read. And for the most point it was light.

The important thing for me, thoguh is to get some sympathy/empathy/caring for the author and those around her. In this book, I didn't. The early part of the book, where she discusses her childhood was OK, but as the book wore on, especially the episodes set in and after LA, I found myself skimming more and more trying to get to the end.

There are some amusing pieces in the book, and if you have one afternoon to skim the book and focus on these its not a bad read, but there were more misses than hits. 2&1/2 stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Erin Bertrand on January 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I thought this book was "okay." Very simple writing and easy to read. The content (to me) wasn't all that interesting. I was surprised that this book actually "made it" to become a book. However, I read it for my book club and I would say 1/2 of the group (12 of us) really enjoyed it. So, it's really a matter of taste.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dizziey on September 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In "Target Underwear and a Vera Wang Gown: Notes from a Single Girl's Closet," Adena Halpern wrote about her relationship with fashion ever since she was a young girl, very much influenced by her mother. She wrote about spending time in the shopping malls with her mother, trying to stand out in high school by wearing trendy clothes and "Madonna" was her idol in terms of dressing uniquely. Adena was able to relate fashion to her life and she wrote about how fashion was very much part of her life; be in in terms of dating, jobs and friendships.

This was a fun and witty book to read. It was also unusual to read about someone's life in regards to fashion. I wouldn't call this a memoir but it certainly read like one. I highly recommend this book for those who are into fashion or those who just feel like reading a relaxing and fun book.
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