Women in Clothes

Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton

Around the time I was 5 years old, I told my mom that I wanted to wear a slip, meant to be layered under my church attire, as a dress by itself. I couldn’t articulate it at the time, but I remember liking the shape of the slip better my voluminous, frilly Sunday best. This was obviously and completely inappropriate, and my mother shut that nonsense down immediately. (To be fair, I was clearly onto something…even if it was a decade too early both for my age and as a trend. Remember all of those slip dresses in the 90s?). 

When I was old enough to have summer jobs and earn my own money, I’d save up for back-to-school shopping. My father wasn’t just tolerant of my interest in building a stylish closet but supported it fully. When I got home with my loot excited to show him what I bought, he’d egg me on with cheers of “Fashion shoooow”. 

Why the trip down memory lane? I tell you these little anecdotes to illustrate that, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been a person who has thought a lot and subsequently talked a lot about all aspects of dress. That’s why when I started reading Women in Clothes, I felt like this book just GOT me. This unique tome is a collection of essays, interviews, and observations about, you guessed it…clothes! 

Now don’t go thinking that this is some style guide or retrospective by a fashion insider speaking from on high. No, this is like having a conversation with a friend. You know what I mean. Sometimes necessary (“What the hell am I going to wear to this party?) and sometimes indulgent (“Do I need another pair of black stiletto heels?). The concept was born from a survey that intended to explore how women approach getting dressed. The ladies in this book represent a diverse group of cultures, backgrounds, professions and generations. There are stories that may feel familiar and points of view you have never even considered. At the very least, it will have you thinking about your own relationship with the way you use your style to communicate to the world. As far as I’m concerned, that’s always worthy of a conversation.