Women in Clothes
October 16, 2014 12:16 PM Subscribe
Through original interviews, conversations, surveys, projects, diagrams and drawings from over six hundred contributors – including Miranda July, Cindy Sherman, Elif Batuman, Mac McClelland, Lena Dunham, Molly Ringwald, Tavi Gevinson, Rachel Kushner, Roxane Gay and Sarah Nicole Prickett – Women in Clothes explores the wide range of motives that inform how women present themselves through clothes, and what style really means.Feeling inspired? Answer the book's inaugural survey here. A selection of completed surveys, sorted by author or by question, can be found at the Women in Clothes website.
Amy Feltman interviews Women in Clothes editors Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton for The Rumpus:
Rumpus: Are there any pieces or styles that you absolutely will not wear?Elisabeth Donnelly interviews the editors for Flavorwire:
Heti: I personally don't really like revealing my body. I don't feel like that's what I want to do in the world. I don't feel like that's what I want people to interact with when they interact with me. I like interacting with people with my face rather than with my figure. But that's just my own shit.
Julavits: Thongs. I don't like interacting with people through my thongs.
What kinds of conversations did you and the contributors have about how pain plays into women's relationships with clothing — be it money, class, weight, etc.?Sasha Weiss reviews Women in Clothes for the New York Times Sunday Book Review:
SH: I think the most pain came from people who were in unhappy economic situations. This was most apparent in the interviews Julia Wallace did with Cambodian garment workers, one of whom speaks of holding a bra in front of her — a bra she is sewing in a factory, unable to imagine the woman who will one day wear it, thinking how beautiful she would be if she could wear it. But certain American respondents experienced this pain, too. One woman tells of trying on clothes in a department store that she'd never be able to afford, and how great and professional they made her feel, but that ultimately it was this “little fantasy."
The book began as a survey consisting of an "ever-evolving" list of questions that the editors sent out to more than 600 women. A small sample: Do you think you have taste or style? Can you say a bit about how your mother's body and style has been passed down to you? Are there any dressing rules you'd want to convey to other women? Do you ever wish you were a man or could dress like a man or had a man's body?More reviews, interviews, and features:
The questions are provocative and psychological. They suggest that a closet is an archive of emotion. (As one of the women interviewed puts it, already wise at 28: "We are always asking for something when we get dressed. Asking to be loved, [...] to be admired, to be left alone, to make people laugh, to scare people, to look wealthy, to say I'm poor, I love myself.") The questions also resist the idea, commonly held, that paying too much attention to dress is frivolous. For most of the women interviewed here, dress is a tool they learn to deploy around the same time they are taught to use a knife and fork, and it is just as essential for their social survival.
• New Yorker: In the Communal Dressing Room
• NPR: For 'Women In Clothes,' It's Not What You Wear, It's Why You Wear It
• The Rumpus: Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton & 639 Others
• Style: The "Women in Clothes" Editors Talk Style, Identity, and the Outfits That Made Them Cry
• T Magazine: A Conversation With the Editors Behind the Book "Women in Clothes" [video]
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