Book Fitting: Women in Clothes

Book Fitting: In Which a Librarian Tries On a Book

Here at TADL, we love us some books, but there are just so many! Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO television series Girls and author of the new book Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”, (ahem, both available at the library) said it best: “Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading”.

Unfortunately, a Tuemondnesday probably isn’t in the near future; so instead we’d like to tell you: it’s ok to “try on” a book. Don’t call it book quitting, call it book fitting. That’s actually the beauty of the public library, taking home a book to see if it fits you and bringing it back if it doesn’t. Actually, you have to bring it back either way, but you get the idea.

This week I’m trying on Women In Clothes, “conceived and edited” by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton.

The book is described as “an exploration of the questions we ask ourselves while getting dressed every day” and these questions were asked to 639 women. These are essays and interviews and photos that reveal not only the drama and spirit of personal style, but also the sentiment behind those clothes and the life stories that are wrapped up in the way we dress.

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For example, as a New Yorker born in India describes how after September 11, she and her family were terrified to “look strange” and had an aunt that tried to wear jeans after only wearing saris and couldn’t sit down in them. Or a series of photos called Mothers as Others where women were prompted to talk about a picture of their mothers as young women, before they became mothers. Or actor Molly Ringwald discussing her first clothing memory.

Reading the Q & A from the women surveyed, I couldn’t help but think about my own answer to some of the questions and what that says about my history or where I’m currently at in life.  Was there a time in your life when your style changed dramatically? is one of the book’s questions. And as a new mom, my own answer was “Eesh, yes.” and also “Eesh, yoga pants.” But it was fun to reminisce about other times my style had changed, from desperately wishing I could afford colored jeans at KMart to discovering vintage clothing stores.

It’s a great book to flip through, visually pleasing, with artistic, big, colorful photographs; but also a book that you could really sit with and spend an entire afternoon (or a week, it’s over 500 pages) immersed in and, as soon as I return it, I certainly recommend that you check it out.

Photo credit: All photos featured are images from the book.

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