I don’t tend to read books about fashion or style, preferring to dedicate my personal time to other literary pursuits. I also happen to think clothes are meant to be worn, not read about.
For my birthday, a dear friend gave me “Women in Clothes“, a book I had heard about but didn’t buy myself as it seemed like homework. Little did I know I would devour it in 48 hours once I started reading it. Penned by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton, the self-described “book unlike any other” is not quite so unique, but it is most definitely inspiring, interesting and thought-provoking.
I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what I am going to wear every morning, but I do spend time thinking about who I want to be, the image I want to project on the world. This image can vary from day to day but the one common denominator is that I reveal myself through my outfits. When I used to work regularly as a personal stylist, my work revolved mainly around this very idea to use clothes as tools to express your personality. I still have a couple clients from the Mademoiselle Style era (in case my older readers remember) who are building their wardrobe as their personality and life evolves. It is a very interesting phenomenon to witness and help with. It is much harder to apply the same rules to myself though and this is where “Women in Clothes” comes in.
It isn’t a style guide, it isn’t a story. It is a selection of essays, conversations and interviews with over 600 women around the world about their style and how they dress. If, like me you tend to feel intimidated by Fashion and stylish people, this will instantly make you feel better and at peace with who you are. Reading words from all these highly intelligent and talented women who are experiencing the same feelings as me is liberating. Writers who can pen complex novels but can’t pick an outfit for their book signing. Photographers who capture the beauty in everything but are having trouble deciding on a pair of shoes. This speaks to me so much more than any editorial in a fashion magazine. This obviously also speaks to me way more than any style advice book could ever do.
It is also a book that reads like conversations with my girlfriends. I have many texts, whatsapps and emails dedicated solely to personal style issues, shopping dilemmas and the all important hair topic. It doesn’t mean we are particularly shallow, it just means we all realise how much clothing and style impacts on our daily lives. Reading this book made me think back about my own style, how it evolved and “devolved” in the past few years. How I choose to brandish the fact I don’t like getting dolled up like some badge of honour and what it says about me. How I shed all the unnecessary layers to build it all back from scratch and how I reinvented my personal style.
If you feel you are thinking about clothes a little too much, read this book, it is like having 600 friends in your hands, talking back at you.