What is “Women in Clothes”?
It’s a guide to thinking about dressing, it’s a philosophy of style, it’s chicken soup for the I-don’t-know-what-to-wear soul.
It’s a book, published by blue rider press in 2014.
What Heti, Julavits, and Shapton perform in their act of magic, is to survey over 600 women about their thoughts, insights, and comments on anything related to clothes or fashion and publish it in a book that is long, but illustrated and has photos and the design is beautiful.
It’s built around 639 essays that were filled out by women all over, anonymous, famous, almost famous, or obscure. Including questions like: ‘When do you feel your most attractive?’, ‘What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?’ or ‘Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically?’.
You can even go on the website now and either fill out a survey or read others’ surveys. The book is nice because the editors have only included all of the survey responses that you’d absolutely want to read about.
I’m going to answer a few of the survey questions here about myself. I encourage you to comment below some of your own answers.
24. DO YOU REMEMBER THE BIGGEST WASTE OF MONEY YOU EVER MADE ON AN ITEM OF CLOTHING?
This one is easy for me. Before moving to Milwaukee, WI for university, I lived in a small town. I had this idea in my head that I’d be cool enough once I shopped at Urban Outfitters, that somehow my style would be perfected if I just had access to that store. I think I’ve been there like 3 times in the entire 4 years I’ve lived here now, so I quickly got over that idea. One time on a trip to Chicago for school my freshman year, I found myself in love with this soft, floral kimono. I am a pretty big cheapskate so spending over $40 on an item of clothing is very rare. I paid like $74 for this kimono and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever wore it. I keep trying but haven’t managed to yet. Just reinforces my ideas that I currently hold: it’s not about the trend or brand.
19. WHAT ARE YOU WEARING ON YOUR BODY AND FACE, AND HOW IS YOUR HAIR DONE, RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT?
Oh man. I’m not wearing any makeup, because I’ve pretty much ditched the idea of makeup all together in recent years. Maybe I’ll return in the future to that. My hair is actually okay today. About a month ago I cut my hair to a short bob after it’d been the longest I’ve ever had it in my life. I’ve kind of tolerated it with an edge of disgust, since but today I’ve pinned my bangs up and I kind of like it. I’m wearing these black, stripe-textured leggings I bought from a retail store in Chile. They have a hole in the knee from falling while rollerblading at home once. No socks. I don’t wear them if I don’t have to. Multiple layers on top. I find comfort in layering lately. a black cuddledud tank top and a pink chiffon tank top over that. Over that a see-through lace top that I talk about here and over that a madewell, thrifted sweater that is grey with darker grey stripes and a turtleneck.
11. IS THERE ANY FASHION TREND YOU’VE REFUSED TO PARTICIPATE IN AND WHY?
I remember when skinny jeans first became something. I think I might’ve been around middle school age and I clearly recall saying to my mom, “I will never wear skinny jeans”. Now it’s pretty much all I wear and a lot of what other people wear. I’m not sure why I was so resistant to it as a youngin. It just looked like such a stupid thing to wear. But then followed leggings and other skinny-ended trends. And now I barely wear anything that isn’t skinny-ended. I do tend to prefer skinny pants as to skinny jeans, such as corduroy material or suede or linen.
Find these and many more questions on their site.
The experience of finding and reading this book was a bit like finding treasure and each page offered a different jewel. The creativity and ideas behind it just seemed to really align with what I had been looking for. Each page is something fresh and interesting.
A few examples of what you’ll find within:
- Sheila Heti’s “Survey Answered With Phrases From My Diary” (p 179)
- a project by Miranda July entitled “Thirty-six women” in which six strangers model each others favorite outfits. (p. 158)
- a project called “Mothers as Others” whose prompt was “Send a photograph of your mother from the time before she had children and tell us what you see.”
- Rachel Hurn’s shirts stolen from her boyfriend (in photographs)
- “What I Wore to Fall in Love” as written by Sarah Nicole Prickett
This book offered to me something I didn’t think fashion books could offer: substance, insight into other women’s ideas about clothes, ideas about the role of style in one’s life.
For me, it’s everything I had been wondering about the women I pass on the street who have intriguing outfits, or the people I see on my way to work, or people with perfect outfits that I’ll never know if they were effortless or effort-full.
After telling you about how great this book is I feel like I may just wander over to amazon to buy it.