Tuesday, June 02, 2015

What We’re Reading Now: A Survey on (and for) Women and How They Dress--and Much More…

Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton et al (391.2 Women)

Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton surveyed over 600 women worldwide regarding their clothes.  The questions and answers ranged all over the map.

Does place determine how your dress?  Gisela Williams responded to Berlin’s harsh winter by buying (and wearing) a pair of blue-sequined Uggs.

Would you rather have great taste or great style? Actress/writer Lena Dunham opts for great style-it’s a feeling that no one else could have put on what you’re wearing that day because it came from you. 

What’s the situation with your hair? Talita S has been at absolute war with hers since she dyed it green when she was 11.

When do you feel most attractive? For Young Kim, it’s when she has clear skin, manageable hair and the right outfit for the occasion. 

What’s your stance on modesty? Claire O remembers her mother telling her that clothes are fine, but she (the mom) has always preferred the way she looks naked.

Mothers as others: Participants sent in pictures of their mothers before they had children and wrote about their reactions to Mom before she was Mom.

My outfits: Thessaly La Force describes her clothing for a January day in Iowa as “Lovechild of Shackleton and Pocahontas”

Advice and tips: 
  • Margaux Williamson advises wearing clothes that feel right when they’re on your body-and that make you feel less sad.
  • Ramou Sarr recommends Spanx-they may kill her, but she doesn’t care.
  • Writer Patricia Marx’s mother told her to stay away from white-based plaids.
  • Gillian Schwartz’s mom recommended buying cashmere sweaters and extension cords-both worthy investments.

Participants’ collections highlight the survey.  Collections vary: Tift Merritt’s handmade guitar straps; Benedicte Pinset’s white sneakers; found shopping bags from New York City streets, decorated with artistic touches; Molly Murray’s three-inch heels.  There are many more to please and puzzle the beholder. 

I loved the pictures and the stories in the Ring Cycle--fifteen women in a newspaper office photocopied their hands and talked about their rings. I identified with the “Map of my floor” project-- changing from exercise to work clothes, rejecting outfits before settling on the one to wear that day--my floor bears a resemblance to that on occasion.   This was just a fun book--read a section, think about it, then read another section.  There are strong feelings involved in what we wear and “Women in Clothes” does a great job exploring this.

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