This book is the blog I always wanted to find on the internet. Style stories. Stories about our emotional attachment to certain garments. Stories on why we dress the way we do. How our insecurities play a role. How our perception of ourselves plays a role. Less about things to buy or outfits, more about the women inside. And her philosophy. And the clothes of course ! Its just clothes and they do not need a philosophy, you may argue. I write a blog on personal style. I obviously don’t think of them as ‘just clothes’.
An excerpt from the book :
” A problem I’ve always had with fashion magazines is that women are encouraged to copy other women. While I suspect that many men enjoy copying other men (consider the idea of the alpha male and beta males), and while part of what makes a man “superior” is how close he can get to “embodying manliness”, I feel it’s the opposite for a woman. The most compelling women are the ones who are distinctive, who are most like themselves and least like other women. There is no other Marilyn Monroe. There is no other Anaïs Nin. And being as iconic and inimitable as they were would be better than being like either one of them. It’s almost as if fashion magazines don’t understand what a woman wants. I think she wants to be unique among women, a creature unlike any other. “
If the authors can write the passage above, a book they wrote would obviously be different than any other style book on the market. Most style books ask you to detox, buy classics, etc. This book is different. It doesn’t start off with an assumption that you don’t have style but they do know it all and are helping you find yours. They stay neutral. They understand that we are all unique. They ask the questions and compile a few answers. They make me slow down and think. You can pick any page, any passage and its like a chance encounter with a stranger who has shared something intimate.
A few select questions :
What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had with someone on the subject of fashion or style? What is your cultural background, and how has that influenced how you dress? • Did your parents teach you things about clothing, care for your clothing, dressing, or style? Many people say they want to feel “comfortable,” or that they admire people who seem “confident.” What do these words really mean to you? • Do you care about lingerie? • Do you notice women on the street? What are you trying to achieve when you dress? • What, for you, is the difference between dressing and dressing up? • If you had to wear a “uniform,” what would it look like? • If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be? • If you were totally comfortable with your body, or your body was a bit closer to what you wish it was like, what would you wear? • When do you feel at your most attractive? What do you think of perfume? Please describe your body. • Please describe your mind. • Please describe your emotions. Tell us about something in your closet that you keep but never wear. Looking back at your purchases over the past five to fifteen years, can you generalize about what sorts of things were the most valuable to buy? What are some dressing rules that you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but that you follow? • How do you conform to or rebel against the dress expectations at your workplace? If you were building up your wardrobe from nothing, what would you do differently this time? • Do you have any shopping rules you follow? • How does how you dress play into your ambitions for yourself? • How does money fit into all this? • Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple?
I would have discussed lots of these questions with my friend Maanasa at some point in our lives. Its a smarter approach to style, than making Pinterest boards or buying Jane Birkin’s basics. I don’t know the answers to all of them. For example, ‘What are you trying to achieve when you dress?’ I would like to say ‘I dress for my pleasure’ but that is not the entire truth. A sample answer that I do know :
Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important?
I would tend towards : style. I have lived in a lot of places – a conservative society, a rich society, a wealthy society, a traditional society, a poor student community, a poor neighbourhood, a poor country, a poor suburb, a wealthy suburb, a village, a small town, a big town, a campground, city, metropolitan city, …. Every society had its own notion on what’s tasteful. The universally tasteful objects are usually stifling for me. You can be donned head to toe in a Chanel suit, carry a birkin, wear a Rolex, collect Picasso, buy furniture from Restoration Hardware, wear antique jewellry won in estate auctions and be tasteful. I believe that too much of a good taste is boring. Its a changing world and we finally are free of the rules. I see style as making my own rules on what’s tasteful and applying my own brain to this matters. More important.
I am slowly working on answering these questions for myself. I grew up with an uncle who tried to tell me that I should form an opinion on everything. If not, people will be eager to impose theirs on me. He would tell me that lots of women in his generation would subscribe to whatever their father/brother/husband believed in. He was always asking me questions. This book is full of such material and has some answers for alternative perspectives. If any of these questions caught your attention and if you want to share an answer with me, please do so as a comment ?
The Book has a website : Fill the Survey