Women in Clothes - Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton
What do nearly all books about style have in common? Photographs. Pictures, the glossier, the high-color, the better. Surely an image alone does speak volumes, especially when you’re talking clothing, coiffing, outward comportment. But that’s what makes Women in Clothes so intriguing. Plumbing the depths of the skin-deep, literary heavy-hitters (Heidi Julavits, Sheila Heti, and Leanne Shapton) compiled an expansive questionnaire on clothing, style, and questions of beauty, which they gave to a very diverse group of women. This volume consists of responses to their survey from 639 women, punctuated by a number of visual features and side-conversations which have taken place apropos of the survey, all of it delighting in the analysis of every imaginable facet of fashion. Upon flipping to any random page, I’d hazard that any woman will become immediately engrossed, whatever her own deportment, however complex her feelings on the subject of fashion. The reason, I think, that this book is so compelling, is that there are no photographs of the women surveyed. It’s clear, from their words, that among the respondents there are conventionally “well-dressed" women, unkempt and homely women, some really eccentric women, and women in conservative religious dress. But you can’t actually see them, and so, with only their own reflections to go on, you can’t do what you might normally.