Women in Clothes
Almost two years ago, I read an article on Flavorwire calling for contributors to what looked to be my dream book–a book edited by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton that would focus on women’s relationship to the clothing we wear. With such talented and interesting editors, I knew the project was going to be a good one. So I immediately filled out a survey and emailed it to the editors, excited to be a part of something crowdsourced and new.
In October, when the book published, all of the contributors got a free copy. I was blown away by how beautiful the book was, and just how vibrant and unique and diverse. There are interviews, essays, and poems, but there are also women’s Xeroxed hands, photos of collections of various items (earplugs used over the course of a week, handmade dresses, leopard-print tops), pictures of Molly Ringwald (and other women) wearing other women’s clothing, projects in which women analyze the things they bought over a period of time and why they bought them, compliments, and conversations. Because the editors were so open and inviting with their call for contributors, the book represents the voices and views of more than 600 women around the world–that’s powerful stuff.
Of course, when I got the book, the first thing I did was flip to the contributor section to see just how much of my survey was included. One of the editors had also asked me to share the Google doc I use to get dressed in the morning–the ongoing document where I jot down ideas for outfits and then delete them as I wear them. I thought maybe there was a chance that was included in the book–the editor had called me a “clothing curator” after all!
But, it wasn’t. In fact, there are only four words that belong to me in the entire 515-page book. And that’s fine by me, because it’s been so much fun to be a part of this project. I plan on writing more about the book and I’m thinking of doing some posts inspired by the book, but today, I wanted to tell you about the event I was able to participate in on Friday night at Harvard Bookstore.
An important part of the book’s launch have been events held at local bookstores with various contributors hosting clothing swaps. (If you’re not familiar with the concept of a clothing swap, I’ve hosted three, and written about all of them.) For Boston’s event, Harvard Bookstore asked me if I would participate. I made sure they knew I only had four words in the book, and then I agreed.
So that’s how I found myself sitting at a table in front of a microphone in a room full of people, talking about a book I didn’t write. There were two other contributors there as well, who were both in a similar situation, and I think we did a good job, given the circumstances. I was super nervous, given that I don’t have any experience talking to a roomful of people and I was afraid I was going to be completely out of my element.
But, because I am a lucky lady, I had a whole cheering section of friends and family there to support me, which helped immensely. I also had a new dress that I bought on a whim in San Francisco because it was brightly colored and has cacti on it. That helped too.
The crowd was great–very engaged and excited and interested in the book and the swap. A few women came to talk with us afterward and I even got to sign a few books and take some photos. It was a lot of fun–I felt like a rockstar. We had some great questions, and though I was worried I was going to be out of my element, it turns out that talking about dressing and style and image and identity is something I’m pretty comfortable with, and happy to do.
I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to sing the praises of Women in Clothes, and to be involved with the project in any capacity. It’s seriously a great book, and if you have any interest in how women wear what they wear, or know anyone who does (it’s a great gift), I’d highly recommend reading it.
And if you came out to the event last week, thank you thank you thank you! You’re the best.
*All photos courtesy of Thomas Kielich