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Dress Code: Unlocking Fashion from the New Look to Millennial Pink Paperback – March 15, 2022
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A New Yorker Magazine Best Book of 2022 * An Esquire Best Nonfiction Book of 2022 * A Town & Country Must-Read Book of 2022 * A Fashionista Summer Read
“Smart, funny, and impressively thorough.”—The Cut
In the spirit of works by Jia Tolentino and Anne Helen Peterson, a smart and incisive essay collection centered on the fashion industry—its history, its importance, why we wear what we wear, and why it matters—from Elle Magazine’s fashion features director.
Why does fashion hold so much power over us? Most of us care about how we dress and how we present ourselves. Style offers clues about everything from class to which in-group we belong to. Bad Feminist for fashion, Dress Code takes aim at the institutions within the fashion industry while reminding us of the importance of dress and what it means for self-presentation. Everything—from societal changes to the progress (or lack thereof) of women’s rights to the hidden motivations behind what we choose to wear to align ourselves with a particular social group—can be tracked through clothing.
Veronique Hyland examines thought-provoking questions such as: Why has the “French girl” persisted as our most undying archetype? What does “dressing for yourself” really mean for a woman? How should a female politician dress? Will gender-differentiated fashion go forever out of style? How has social media affected and warped our sense of self-presentation, and how are we styling ourselves expressly for it?
Not everyone participates in painting, literature, or film. But there is no “opting out” of fashion. And yet, fashion is still seen as superficial and trivial, and only the finest of couture is considered as art. Hyland argues that fashion is a key that unlocks questions of power, sexuality, and class, taps into history, and sends signals to the world around us. Clothes means something—even if you’re “just” wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
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“Controlling what you wear is a proxy for controlling what you do,” Hyland writes in this examination not only of fashion but also of sartorial life more generally. Hyland finds meaning in what we wear, whether in the nineteenth-century vogue for bloomers or in courtroom attire, which is chosen to convey its wearer’s respectability.” — New Yorker
“Smart, funny, and impressively thorough.” — The Cut
“Whether you realize it or not, every outfit you choose makes a statement, telling the world who you are and who you want to be. With a rich sense of history and firm grasp on the current culture, Véronique Hyland is your fashion trend translator. Her debut essay collection—wry, thoughtful, and always provocative—is a must read for anyone who cares about clothes…which is to say, everyone.” — Nina Garcia, ELLE Editor-in-Chief and Project Runway judge
“This riveting, mind-expanding book made me see the world differently. I'll be thinking about Hyland's funny, incisive observations for years to come -- she has a way of putting things that makes the world snap into focus with its colors slightly sharper and brighter. You will not be able to stop talking about the things you learn from this book!” — Emily Gould, author of Friendship and Perfect Tunes
"Anyone who opts in to wearing clothes (and even those who opt out) should pay attention to this book." — Library Journal (starred review)
"Véronique Hyland's tremendous essay collection is for fashionistas who like their frock talk served with politics." — Shelf Awareness, starred review
About the Author
Véronique Hyland is ELLE’s fashion features director. Her work has previously appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, W, New York magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, and Condé Nast Traveler.
- Publisher : Harper Perennial; Bilingual edition (March 15, 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0063050838
- ISBN-13 : 978-0063050839
- Item Weight : 7.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.65 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #71,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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By Tricia on April 23, 2022
Hyland is ELLE’s fashion features director among having her work featured in countless other famous fashion and regular magazines. So, if you are like me and enjoy flipping through ELLE’s pages each month, this is a book you will love because think of it is as an expansion of those beloved articles.
The care that Hyland has put into each essay is astounding. This small book is a little over 250 pages, but it packs a punch with 15 essays. It covers four major topics: Underpinnings: Why We Wear What We Wear, The Top Layer: Fashion and the Wider World, High Heels: Dressing Up for the Patriarchy, and Moon Boots and Jumpsuits: The Future of Fashion.
If you’re a fashionista or just interested in fashion history, this book will interest you. Even though I read the entire book, different essays stood out more. Three that come to mind are “Patagonia on Bedford Avenue,” “Déjà Hue,” and “The Revolution Will Be Spandex-Clad.” I connected with them and found myself googling events or people Hyland had mentioned. Whereas others were just more of a read to me. I equate this to reading an issue of ELLE, some essays I love, others I read once. But I also see it as a great discussion book - like the magazine - because different essays will interest different people.
I don’t know if you want to call me a fashionista right now laying here in my joggers and an oversized sweatshirt, so maybe just call me a fashion nerd until I’m off bed rest. But I really enjoyed my time reading DRESS CODE. It made me feel educated and fancy, something I really needed at the moment.
Even needing to google most of the names of the people mentioned, the particular pieces of clothing and the fashion shows in Paris/London with their couture masters, I really enjoyed getting a new perspective into the fashion world and industry. For me, the concept of fashion as central is someone's life is foreign, but reading this book it not only made perfect sense but also gave me interesting insights on how we can use clothing to our own advantage.
My favorite chapters were the one about work clothes and their impacts on people's perceptions of success and status, the one on attires for trials and the expectations they try to convey, and the one on the evolution of women's clothes and the suffering they can bring to the wearer. Some common themes throughout the chapters were also super interesting, such as comprehending why fashion holds a different value for men and woman, based on their role of creator & muse/consumer. One discussion of "doing it for oneself" while at the same time meeting the world's expectations was very eye-opening.
Hyland managed to write a book perfect for the curious but unfashionable people, the ones that just blindly follow (or try to to follow) the trends. For the initiated on the theme, it might read as too obvious, but for me it was fun, interesting and certainly full of content that I wouldn't have consumed otherwise.