On Sunday night my best friend spent a solid five hours helping me organize my unruly wardrobe–“That’s the skirt I wore when we had just dessert at Spice Market.” “Remember when I wore maxis for a month in senior year.” “That’s the dress I wore on the date for the third anniversary.” Almost every piece evoked a memory, a story, an embarrassment, a phase…it’s the case for many women (and men!), really, in fact, the inextricable relationship between our clothes and our lives served as inspiration for two semi-recent book releases I’m finally getting a chance to delve into.
One thing I find special, and enticing about both books is that they give legitimacy to clothes (forget, for a moment, words like fashion or style) and prove, in a way that is, to me, indisputable, that clothes are often imbued with meaning, be it sentimental or politician in a way that is often ignored.
Worn Stories, edited by Emily Spivack,and Women In Clothes, edited by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanna Shapton (“& 639 others”) are both effective in showing the meaning of clothes to people famous and non-famous, industry-involved and otherwise.
Worn Stories, edited by Emily Spivack
Worn Stories is a series of vignettes–each juxtaposed with a photograph. Contributors include Simon Doonan reflecting on a pair of shorts inextricably tied, in his memory, to the AIDS epidemic in 80’s L.A., to Maira Kalman’s paragraph about a green cardigan her mother liked on her. Stories come, somewhat primarily, from artists (visual or digital, writers, designers, musicians, filmmakers, etc.) but also from lawyers, professors, and more.
Women In Clothes, edited by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanna Shapton (“& 639 others”)
Women in Clothes clocks in at almost 500 pages, which almost seems short when I think about how perfect that three-word-title is for a subject so rife with emotion and memory for myself and so many of the women in my life. The book is text-heavy but includes an extensive photo series of Zosia Mamet imitating poses from fashion editorials in a black leotard. Tavi Gevinson writes an essay called “Color Taxonomy,” Lena Dunham is interviewed. One of my favorite pieces though is a paragraph of dialogue between two women in the changing room of a NYC gym in which one asks the other where she bought her bra.
Though the premises are similar each book brings a unique perspective, not to mention contributors, to the table. Highly recommended for anyone in clothes.