Friday, August 13, 2010

Book Review: The Thoughtful Dresser

The Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, the Pleasures of Shopping, and Why Clothes MatterThe Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, the Pleasures of Shopping, and Why Clothes Matter by Linda Grant

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. It has been a looooong time since I reviewed any kind of book. And when I started this book, I didn't think I would ever finish it, but last night in the wee hours of the morning when I should have been sleeping I got to the end. Hallelujah - I finally finished a book!

I really, really enjoyed this book. As I have gotten more involved in the style blog community - both with my own blog and in reading others, I felt like this was a good time to explore some deeper thoughts on fashion and style in general. And this book did not disappoint. The author's premise is that all depths are covered by a surface and that the surface matters. That what you wear and how you dress sends a message to the outside world, one that is seen and judged by every person that you encounter.

I was surprised at the depth of the writing of this book. The author, Linda Grant, certainly can turn a pretty phrase and in my opinion is very well-written. The way that the book reads is also very interesting. Rather than carrying one cohesive thesis throughout the book, it is more like a series of articles covering differing topics and areas within fashion and its surprising depths and impact upon women and their views of themselves and the outside world. And Grant does a great job convincing the reader of fashion's necessity to the lives of people - no matter what hardships we go through. She begins the book examining fashion and the Holocaust. Not two topics you would ever think would go together, but Grant does an admirable job in showing how the two actually converge.

The other thing that I loved about the book was Grant's look back into history at fashion - particularly how the world has changed from post World War II to present day. It not only is a great look at the history of fashion, but also a look at women's history post-World War II as well. And it is surprising to discover that even as women made strides to "liberate" themselves and assert our rights, we actually have become trapped by images forced at us of models with pre-pubescent bodies wearing high-fashion clothing and told by the high-fashion design houses that this is what is considered "beautiful". It is a fascinating look back and helps one to realize that this hasn't always been considered the standard of beauty.

The other thing that is fascinating about the book is how seriously women take beauty. And how we cope through unthinkable tragedies by tending to this basic human desire that we have - to look beautiful. It makes sense to me, especially after reading John and Stasi Eldredge's Captivatinga couple years ago, but it is very interesting to see Grant come to the same conclusion.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It definitely broadened my view on the importance of fashion and style and any time my worldview is broadened, I am a fan.

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