Women in Clothes
By Leanne Shapton, Heidi Julavits, Sheila Heti
Women in Clothes is a book unlike any other. It is essentially a conversation among hundreds of women of all nationalities—famous, anonymous, religious, secular, married, single, young, old—on the subject of clothing, and how the garments we put on every day define and shape our lives.
It began with a survey. The editors composed a list of more than fifty questions designed to prompt women to think more deeply about their personal style. Writers, activists, and artists including Cindy Sherman, Kim Gordon, Kalpona Akter, Sarah Nicole Prickett, Tavi Gevinson, Miranda July, Roxane Gay, Lena Dunham, and Molly Ringwald answered these questions with photographs, interviews, personal testimonies, and illustrations.
Even our most basic clothing choices can give us confidence, show the connection between our appearance and our habits of mind, express our values and our politics, bond us with our friends, or function as armor or disguise. They are the tools we use to reinvent ourselves and to transform how others see us. Women in Clothes embraces the complexity of women’s style decisions, revealing the sometimes funny, sometimes strange, always thoughtful impulses that influence our daily ritual of getting dressed.
“Poems, interviews, pieces that read like diary or journal entries—all these responses help the editors fulfill their aims: to liberate readers from the idea that women have to fit a certain image or ideal, to show the connection between dress and ‘habits of mind,’ and to offer readers ‘a new way of interpreting their outsides.’ ‘What are my values?’ one woman asks. ‘What do I want to express?’ Those questions inform the multitude of eclectic responses gathered in this delightfully idiosyncratic book.”—Kirkus
“Thoughtfully crafted and visually entertaining, this collection, edited by Heti, Julavits, and Shapton, uses personal reflections from 642 contributors to examine women’s relationship with clothes in a deceptively lighthearted and irreverent tone….it also inspires meaningful questions…the prose is spliced with striking visuals…[a] provocative time capsule of contemporary womanhood.”—Publishers Weekl
“[A] delirious assortment of conversations, essays, journal entries, and photographs…This big, busy book feels like a thrift store brimming with jumbles of clothes and accessories and alive with women’s voices. Their comments and stories are canny, funny, incisive, twee, surprising, and caring, as thoughts and anecdotes about clothes touch on everything from gender to beauty, sex, mother-daughter relationships, aspirations, money, human rights, health, work, creativity, and violence. A uniquely kaleidoscopic and spirited approach to an irresistible subject of universal resonance.”—Booklist
“This is the wisdom of the crowd, and while it’s not authoritative or prescriptive, it’s reassuring and fun.”—Associated Press
Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Blue Rider Press (September 4, 2014)
SHEILA HETI is the author of five books, including the critically acclaimed How Should a Person Be? She writes regularly for the London Review of Books and is an editor and interviewer at The Believer magazine.
Heidi Julavits has published short fiction in Esquire, Story, Zoetrope, McSweeney’s, and The Best American Short Stories 1999. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
LEANNE SHAPTON is a Canadian illustrator, author, and publisher based in New York City. She is the author of Important Artifacts and Swimming Studies, winner of the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography.
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