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Tim Gunn Almost Made It Work
on July 21, 2013
I give this book a mixed review. To me, the title was misleading because I thought the book would emphasize and showcase Mr. Gunn's well-known fashion advice and clothing expertise. Perhaps a title such as "Tim Gunn's Look At Fashion History" would have been more consistent with the content. Even so, the book is a charmingly written "look-back" at clothing history in the Western world. I learned a lot of fascinating facts about the evolution of clothing trends, and the significant impact of social change on the clothes our ancestors wore as well as those we wear today. It's a well-researched (but not academic) book, and the chapters are organized by type of clothing (such as "Hats", "Sweaters", "Shoes", "Athletic Wear", etc.). You'd think a history book about clothes would be arranged chronologically, but his choice to mix it up by topic works surprisingly well. He weaves in the meaning and function of clothes by tracing them back to their origins. And of course along the way, he does manage to convey his pet peeves and iconic no-nonsense advice for the careful reader. For example, in the underwear section there's a highlighted section on page 13 with the ominous heading "Does Your Bra Fit"? (Uh, probably not). And in the section on capris and shorts, he states unequivocally that "The baggy cargo capri is the single worst item of clothing in America today". And although he writes of gloves as "remnants of the past", the chapter on them was so captivating I went out and bought a beautiful leather pair for winter. The pictures, which include movie stars past and present, old photographs, portraits, art work, advertisements, and more, work well to illustrate the points he wants to make.
Oh, I do love this guy. He says what he thinks, and he loves and respects clothes. He pokes gentle fun at some of the outlandish ways people dress themselves, and he's outrageously funny when going after recent fads that he really does not like (such as capris and flip-flops). But there's not a single mean sarcastic put-down in the entire book. And I like that.
Another reviewer noted after reading this book that she looks at the clothes in her closet in a completely different way. So do I - and I think that's a great compliment to Tim Gunn.