Your Garage botysf16 Amazon Fashion Learn more Discover it Drowners Fire TV Stick Subscribe & Save Patriotic Picks Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer WienerDog WienerDog WienerDog  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 All-New Kindle Oasis Segway miniPro

Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on August 25, 2010
The premise of this book is that human beings have an innate need for aesthetic beauty, and that the relative affluence of our current culture and the lowering of the cost of beautiful things has resulted in a culture that is more visually sophisticated than ever before. I agree with the premise, those who don't seem to disagree mainly for political reasons, since this is not the anti-capitalist book they would have preferred to read. If you liked "Populuxe" by Thomas Hine and "Learning from Las Vegas" by Robert Venturi then you will be sympathetic to the author's celebration of the democratization of good design and the ability of consumers to express themselves individually.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 17, 2008
This book is nice training for deconstructing items into small bits for analysis. It teaches how to articulate the meaning of an object, moving from a compositional view of an artifact, to signifiers and signifieds, and from their to what the object means. In one example, she claims the aesthetic touches of a toilet brush connote deeper values that just wanting to impress the neighbors. The small bits of style on toilet brushes are signifiers of cleanliness, sterility, or something equally desirable for a bathroom brush. Thus, toilet brush designs that support these qualities are better designs, because they have more meaning.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 30, 2013
A great idea to look at aesthetics from this perspective of advertising and media. Unfortunately this ambitious book strings together just too many ideas with little analysis. Good stuff, but not well organized. Still worth a read.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 24, 2003
Yes, Virginia, style does matter. This is hardly a revelation. Anyone who has seen someone spend $10,000 more on some nameplate car rather than a nearly identical non-status car (Infiniti vs. Nissan) knows people will spend a lot of extra dough for image. (Or, to reverse it, Mazda marketed its excellent 929 luxury sedan by pointing out it didn't have to charge as much because the car wasn't made my a separate luxury division. A smart idea, but people didn't buy it, and Mazda no longer makes the 929.) And yes, style adds value to the GNP: any car salesman will tell you the new models move faster; that's why they change styles every few years. The book in general tells us something that I at least think is painfully obvious: style is important. The multitudes of examples and various anecdotes the author cites in this book are redundant, and serve to just beef up a thin and obvious premise. It's as though someone just now wrote a book and said, "We live in the information age!" Well, duh. When I read this book, I was reminded of kids in school padding their science and history and literature papers to get them up to 20 pages, or whatever the requirement was. This would have made a nifty magazine article, but it's not enough for a book, even a small book with large print and wide margins such as this one. (Books pay more than magazine articles, however.) There's not enough substance to your style, Virginia!
0Comment|15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon October 25, 2004
You don't have to read Virginia Postrel's articulate, funny, well-written, well-argued, inventive exploration of surfaces and surfacing desire to know that people all over recognize The Substance of Style.

Exploring the difference between brown worn work shoes and Kenneth Cole patents might seem purely superficial, but the straight guys have tuned into their wives and girlfriends and thus the Queer Eye guys, and tuned out the same critics who for years insisted that the prom queen couldn't be a Nobel laureate.

While observers may think this fascination with the superficial indicates our civilization has gone to hell in a Prada bag, Postrel makes the sensible argument that changing our look--and thus our identity--to create meaning is a fundamental human activity. Her incisive arguments cover topics as diverse as Starbucks, religious objections to makeup, Martha (no last name needed), and Afghani women painting fingernails after the defeat of the Taliban. This book enlightens with its substance, but pleases overwhelmingly with its style.
0Comment|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 21, 2004
Postrel's thesis is deceptively simple: human beings are more than merely rational creatures. We enjoy our senses and we seek pleasure through them.
That, of course, is enough to indict her in the eyes of those for whom the ascetic ideal is indeed ideal. These fundamentalists come in many forms: religious, political, environmental, aesthetic. They have one thing in common. They all want the rest of us to share their deep concern for whatever it is they're deeply concerned about.
Inevitably, all fundamentalists are about the narcissistic project of saving the world. Postrel, in this elegant book, is wiser than to think that what we consume or sanctimoniously don't consume can save the world, or even ourselves. She puts daily aesthetics into a proper place, a place not where grand projects clash, but where simple pleasures and differences are savored. I thank her for that.
0Comment|12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 4, 2012
I love this book - great deal. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the economics of style. Actually, if you like economics at all, this book is a great deal.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 30, 2013
I liked the ideas in this book, it was very enlightening. Quick read too. It was for a class which is why I could not bring myself to "love it"...
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 25, 2004
An extremely important book written from the perspective of a keen and honest observer. Ms Postrel is an accomplished writer whose English is both compelling and convincing. Naomi Kliens sobering counterpoints, mentioned above, entirely misses the boat. The positive message elucidating the dynamics of style informs those who have read the book. The No Logo opinion of Klein, reveals her underlying mistrust of the market and her complete lack of awarness that she has consumer-conferred power within it. There's a better way to consume - with self interest - and with style. If you don't like it - don't buy it.
0Comment|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 3, 2003
Postrel takes an interesting thesis -- that we, as a culture, are becoming more aesthetically savvy, and that aesthetic expression is hard-coded in us -- and supports it with a grab bag of documentary and anecdotal evidence.
She builds whole pages on a TV interior designer's insistence that 8 year-olds worship design, and relies on thesis repetition to make up for the lack of thesis support. In the last chapter, it seems as though every paragraph ends with a variant of "Pretty and Smart," which is not only annoying, but often unsupported.
The greatest problem, though, is the lack of a logical thread -- Postrel makes the valid argument that aesthetic taste is a personal, subjective thing, but then goes on to brand whole genres and generations as objectively "ugly." She also feels that external aesthetic mandates are generally misguided, unless, of course, they're hers.
Postrel raises interesting issues, and has certainly done her reporting homework. In the end, however, "The Substance of Style" has not much of either.
0Comment|19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse