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Women in Clothes Paperback – Deckle Edge, September 4, 2014

3.7 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Poems, interviews, pieces that read like diary or journal entries—all these responses help the editors fulfill their aims: to liberate readers from the idea that women have to fit a certain image or ideal, to show the connection between dress and ‘habits of mind,’ and to offer readers ‘a new way of interpreting their outsides.’ ‘What are my values?’ one woman asks. ‘What do I want to express?’ Those questions inform the multitude of eclectic responses gathered in this delightfully idiosyncratic book.”—Kirkus 

“Thoughtfully crafted and visually entertaining, this collection, edited by Heti, Julavits, and Shapton, uses personal reflections from 642 contributors to examine women’s relationship with clothes in a deceptively lighthearted and irreverent tone….it also inspires meaningful questions…the prose is spliced with striking visuals…[a] provocative time capsule of contemporary womanhood.”Publishers Weekly

“[A] delirious assortment of conversations, essays, journal entries, and photographs…This big, busy book feels like a thrift store brimming with jumbles of clothes and accessories and alive with women’s voices. Their comments and stories are canny, funny, incisive, twee, surprising, and caring, as thoughts and anecdotes about clothes touch on everything from gender to beauty, sex, mother-daughter relationships, aspirations, money, human rights, health, work, creativity, and violence. A uniquely kaleidoscopic and spirited approach to an irresistible subject of universal resonance.”
Booklist

“This is the wisdom of the crowd, and while it's not authoritative or prescriptive, it's reassuring and fun.”
Associated Press

“This charming patchwork expands the scope of fashion writing by looking not at forerunners of style but at how those outside the industry think about what they wear….The range of women involved [is] dazzling…a welcome addition to writing that often focuses on a single trend for all.”
—Madeleine Schwartz, The Boston Globe

“[A] thoughtful, droll, and often moving tome…Women in Clothes is the pulchritudinous addendum to Mr. Twain’s famous quote—clothes make the woman.”
—Sloane Crosley, Interview

 “[A] winningly zine-like compendium.”
—Meghan O’Grady, Vogue.com

Women in Clothes dares to dive into the realm of heels and chiffon to suss out the deeper underpinnings of what we wear.”
—Bustle.com


 

About the Author

SHEILA HETI is the author of five books, including the critically acclaimed How Should a Person Be? She writes regularly for the London Review of Books and is an editor and interviewer at The Believer magazine.
HEIDI JULAVITS is the author of four novels, most recently The Vanishers, winner of the PEN/New England Fiction Award. She is a founding editor of The Believer and an associate professor at Columbia University.
LEANNE SHAPTON is a Canadian illustrator, author, and publisher based in New York City. She is the author of Important Artifacts and Swimming Studies, winner of the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Rider Press (September 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399166564
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399166563
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.3 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
just received this book from amazon on friday. finished it sunday afternoon. i didn't really know what to expect from this book...the write up in a magazine made it sound interesting.

it is without a doubt one of the best books i've ever read. i felt so emotionally drained yet revitalized at the same time. i found myself veering off into my own thoughts time and again. the book is cathartic, whether you want it to be or not...sad and funny and just so damn human or should i say woman? plan on crying or at least getting close, especially if your own mother is gone.

i wish i had the words to describe it. you just have to read it..you really NEED to read it. i have this overwhelming urge now to document my whole life and send it to the authors.

my one tiny critique would be that the print is very, very small and the layout on some pages defies any real ability to read them without a ruler in hand to go from line to line. i found that extremely frustrating and gave up on a few pages before i even read the first word. thankfully, the whole book is not laid out that way or i would have sent it back unread.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a collection of conversations, surveys, projects, and quips from women all over. Some are funny, some are quirky, some are sad, but together they add depth to the idea of fashion. I felt as if I knew women better after reading this book; sitting in a coffee shop, I felt a certain unity, or at least an understanding, with the minds of everyone else sitting there. I even looked at myself differently after reading this, not feeling so neurotic for some of the things I do in my daily (or traveling or shopping) routine-- the book normalized my experience of choosing and wearing clothes. For being such a large collection, it was really easy to get through. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in clothes, fashion, psychology (of women in particular), or even in relationships, because this book touches on far more than the superficial subject of just 'clothes.' A really great read.
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Format: Paperback
I love fashion, fashion magazines and particularly meditations or essays about what clothes mean to us, such as the Vogue column where people reminisce about an item of clothing or style icon that changed their lives. I was expecting, but didn't quite get this in "Women in Clothes."

This book collects interview responses from more than 600 women to a series of questions about clothing.

As some other reviewers have mentioned, I felt this book suffered from too-small type (it was hard for my 50-ish eyes to read) and from not identifying most of the survey respondents until the end. It would have been interesting to know more about people than just their names. In some cases, I wasn't even sure if a person was male or female (there are some transgender individuals). Age, location, and other identifiers would have given context to the responses.

I also felt the book started off badly with an interview between the authors that read like a literally transcribed phone conversation--this put me off to the point I almost didn't read the book.

Glad I kept going. I did enjoy this book, but I think the best way to read it is by skimming it and diving in to those that interest you. Personally, I enjoy reading about people who enjoy fashion, style and clothes and how they make the most of it, such as artists, entertainers, performers and designers. However, many of the respondents in this book seemed to actively hate fashion or purposely try NOT to look attractive. I didn't really care to read about this.

This book is very cerebral and may appeal more to you if you are involved in women's studies, gender studies, in or recently out of college or grad school. It made me feel a bit old and bourgeois for caring about clothes…which wasn't what I expected from this book.
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By arizonamegs on October 24, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to love this book. Instead I felt overwhelmed and a bit bored. The writing is clever, the idea great. It just didn't hold my interest as I had hoped. I am sure others will find it dearly engaging. There are some smart contributors and that makes the book fun to flip through. It did remind me of being an art student in the early 90s, which was nice to go back to in my mind. And some of the surveys are just plain fun to read. I like the surveys that are on the book's website.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was truly hoping for something more insightful that really examined the influence of clothes. Clothes have an artistic appeal for me and their power in self expression and as functional supports to life's challenges as well as enhancements to adventures and celebrations is worthy of exploration. Clothes are like silent companions that travel with you through life, holding memories like no photograph can. This book didn't even come close to delivering on that. In fact it seemed like it was a collection of initial research and not such good research at that. The opening is a transcription of the conversations and emails of the authors as they try to shape the focus of the book and it is meant as an introduction. It was a signal of what was to come: disjointed, without focus, irrelevant distractions. It barely grazes what it set out to do. There was one interview in this book of Nigel Alexander which examined what I thought this book was going to be about but that was it. Added to that, the authors thought it was creative and charming to present pictures of people's collections of very uninteresting things such as bobby pins. Pass this one up; it will disappoint you.
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