Saturday, March 7, 2015

The DNF Files: Women in Clothes

Published September 4, 2014 by Blue Rider Press
Paperback, 528 pages
Borrowed from library

So... what's it about?
Women in Clothes is a collection of essays, surveys and various other things by women on the clothes they wear, their style and the fashion choices they make day to day. 

Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:
"Women in Clothes is a book unlike any other. It is essentially a conversation among hundreds of women of all nationalities—famous, anonymous, religious, secular, married, single, young, old—on the subject of clothing, and how the garments we put on every day define and shape our lives.
It began with a survey. The editors composed a list of more than fifty questions designed to prompt women to think more deeply about their personal style. Writers, activists, and artists including Cindy Sherman, Kim Gordon, Kalpona Akter, Sarah Nicole Prickett, Tavi Gevinson, Miranda July, Roxane Gay, Lena Dunham, and Molly Ringwald answered these questions with photographs, interviews, personal testimonies, and illustrations.
Even our most basic clothing choices can give us confidence, show the connection between our appearance and our habits of mind, express our values and our politics, bond us with our friends, or function as armor or disguise. They are the tools we use to reinvent ourselves and to transform how others see us. Women in Clothes embraces the complexity of women’s style decisions, revealing the sometimes funny, sometimes strange, always thoughtful impulses that influence our daily ritual of getting dressed."

What initially attracted you to it?
I think I found this book through Goodreads on one of my book finding sprees and thought it looked like an interesting and enlightening book on fashion. I love clothes and makeup and while it never occurred to me to stop for a minute and think about my fashion choices and how they reflect who I am and the world around me, I thought that Women in Clothes would be the perfect book to get me to start thinking about it. 

How far did you read until you decided it was over?
I forgot to check before I returned it to the library but I think I was around the 180 to 200 mark. Which considering the book is 528 pages long is nothing more than a decently sized dent.

Why'd you put it down?
Well... the due date on the book was up and since there are a ton of holds on it at the library I had to return it even though I did give myself three days to try and get as much finished as possible. And I tried for the first night and then I couldn't do it any more. 

I feel like given another chance, I might have been able to find insight in this book and a new favourite to grace my bookshelves. I realize that 180 pages out of a 528 in total is hardly enough for me to form a proper judgement as I'm sure there were some essays or surveys that I missed that were really good so I'm not denying the book's potential.

But the 180 pages I read were just mediocre. I think I knew going into this book that it wasn't going to be a very structured collection. I imagined it to be similar to Tavi Gevinson's Rookie Yearbook with pieces from all sorts of people except that it was directed to a little bit of an older audience and all about fashion. And that was more or less what I got but something about the book just became really repetitive for me. Reading the essays and the surveys were interesting but none of them stood out. I did notice when reading the appendix that the authors did make an effort to include women from all different backgrounds which is good but when you're reading, that type of diversity was often irrelevant unless you get to those essays specifically about a woman's experience with clothes and how it related to her background but otherwise, that type of information wasn't mentioned. I feel like they could have included a bio for each woman with the surveys and the essays instead of having a whole separate section for it at the back.

So... I don't know. I mean I obviously had to return it but I think even if I had an endless amount of time, my opinions would stay the same. 

But on a positive note, was there anything you did like about it?
I liked the idea of the book. I liked the surveys. I liked the essays. I liked the collections of clothings. I liked the projects. I liked the book. But it was just a little too long and repetitive so that over time, the book's novelty wore off for me. 

Final Notes

So Women in Clothes is an interesting situation because even though I did DNF it (let's leave the fact that I had to out of this), I do still feel like I could have gotten a very rewarding reading experience from it. Because I didn't hate it at all. Sure a lot of it was very scattered and it's loosely organized but I did enjoy everything I read even though it wasn't LOVE. I just feel like it's length and repetitiveness put me off from wanting to continue. I don't think it's the type of book you read word for word front to back in one sitting anyway. So I'm probably going to end up buying this book from Indigo to keep and just refer to whenever I want to. That way I can flip through the book depending on my mood and can thumb through it however fast or slow I want. 

I know this won't be a favourite of mine though and I know it probably won't achieve what it set out to do for me. Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps there is a hidden gem in the pages I didn't read but a lot of the stories I went through, while interesting, didn't scratch very deep under the surface. 

I still want to own it though. I know, this is so weird because I just said it wasn't going to be a favourite but it was fun to read at points and I think without time restraints, Women in Clothes would make a great coffeetable book for me to just browse through or skim through whenever I please. 

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