Monday, May 11, 2009

The Thoughtful Dresser

The Thoughtful Dresser is a series of essays on the importance of clothes, a defence of fashion as a social pursuit and as an art, and a delve into the author's personal wardrobe.

Linda Grant writes with authority and enthusiasm, and her own vignettes of outfits worn give the essays fascinating detail. I was fascinated by her description of 19th century department stores as empowering public spaces for women, as it's easy to extrapolate from them to etsy, ebay, and indeed the predominantly consumer-focussed internet as a whole.

I'd question Grant's persistent need to defend fashion, to take issue with the notion that a fascination with clothes is the mark of an inherently frivolous mind. Better to pass such issues off with more dismissiveness, or indeed to note how essential frivolity is. I also thought that the book showed its blog roots a bit too clearly - it could have been strengthened by paring it down to cater for the reader who goes through it in one or two sittings and doesn't want so much reinforcement of opinions.

But it's a diverting read, and I haven't been able to leave the house since finishing it without remembering that "a good handbag makes the outfit".

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