UP Book Club: “Women In Clothes”

Maybe I’m biased – after all, I am writing this on a fashion blog – but I believe clothes transcend a superficial vanity. An outfit can reflect an idea, a culture, or an identity; it can change how you carry yourself and who you are on any given day. 

I’ve always been really close to my grandma; she grew up as a free-spirit with a strong work ethic, which I recognize in myself. I think one of the main reasons we became so close is through the language of fashion. Even as a kid, I remember trying on her bohemian skirts, billowy blouses, Audrey Hepburn-style dresses, and fringe jackets. I was so inspired and consumed by a connection to both my grandma and her history. I truly do believe an outfit can connect you back to your culture or reflect some sort of characteristic within yourself.

Editors of Women in Clothes: Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton, and Sheila Heti. Image via vogue.com, photo by Gus Powell.
Editors of Women in Clothes: Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton, and Sheila Heti. Image via vogue.com, photo by Gus Powell.

What I’m talking about is the central focus of the book, Women In Clothes. This book is a collection of essays, photography, conversations, and other mediums that explore how fashion shapes and connects women. In other words, it’s about way more than “looking cute.” I love reading the most recent issues of Vogue and Marie Claire, but style will always be about more than “do’s and dont’s” list. In its purest form, clothing can serve as a memory, emotion, argument, or idea.

Quote and image via npr.org
Quote and image via npr.org

In the above picture, book contributor Jowita Bydlowska reflects on how her mother’s fashion has helped her understand her life. Referring to the photograph, she says, “”My mom is the one with fake eyelashes and headband, smoking a cigarette, being badass. … I love how feisty she is here, and how self-aware and sexual she is. She looks like this in most pictures from that time, and always with those fake lashes on. Brigitte Bardot. Her bikini is like something from Blow-Up. I know that she was really popular with the boys but that she didn’t fall in love easily, so she probably buried a couple of hearts in that pile of sand” (quote via npr.org).

The book features work from all types of women, including some familiar names, specifically Lena Dunham and Molly Ringwald. As fans of fashion, it’s easy to forget that style is about more than glamour or fitting a specific look. It’s a representation of you – whatever that may mean to the individual.

SONG OF THE WEEK: “Common Knowledge,” Conor Oberst

– Jenny Henderson

Leave a Reply