What's on my mind.

28 February 2008

Intelligence ∝ 1/Fashion Sense

The other topic that article that caught my attention on The Smart Set was about clothes. It's actually a review of The Meaning of Sunglasses: And a Guide to Almost All Things Fashionable by Hadley Freeman. Jessa Crispin spends a little time telling you what the book is not as well as what it is.

Crispin brings up the Hollywood stereotype that intelligent women are bad dressers, it makes them easy to identify in a B-movie. Then she tears into fashion books and shopping guides. Most fashion books, according to Crispin, advise a woman on how to dress to hide her (preceived) flaws. From what I've seen of makeover shows, that's the standard there, too. She critiques one shopping guide author as sounding too much like a sales clerk on commission, extolling women to buy designer this and designer that, and making shopping too much work, with the persona inventing and planning around one's hormonal cycle. I like tips on how to dress my body to it's best advantage as much as the next person, but I don't need entire chapters on each problem area. I also don't need shopping to become more work than fun. I generally agree with her critique of the fashion advice industry.

Crispin then tells you about how Sunglasses is different from everything else she's read in the genre. The shopping advice is for real women (you know one's that don't wear evening gowns while riding horses bareback with a lovely barebacked man), practical advice even. She makes the shopping advice in the book sound a bit like the kind a best girlfriend would give you. She says she'd rather have Freeman with her in the dressing room, telling her "she's too old for the mini-skirt", rather than the author of that shopping guide telling her "it's fabulous and everyone is wearing them this season". Woman all over, even well dressed ones, need that kind of honesty in the dressing room. Apparently Freeman believes that fashion isn't to please others but to express one's self, or at least shouldn't be.

I'm not sure how someone else tells you to dress to express yourself but I'd like to see. Hopefully the local library will get it.

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