Review: The Worn Archive

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I picked up a copy of the The WORN Archive: A Fashion Journal about the Art, Ideas, & History of What We Wear, on a whim while in Portland last October. I have read most of the articles in the 400+ page book which is an anthology of the first 14 issues of the Worn Fashion Journal magazine. What was so refreshing about the book and its entry into the Worn Fashion Journal is that it focuses on personal style over fashion trends. They focus on gender and body issues as well as how people create their own personal looks through thrifting, vintgae, modern and handmade items. Its more like Bust magazine with an emphasis on clothing and fashion than a Vogue magazine. Sadly, the publication is defunct now but the back issues are still available as well as the book.

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The book is printed on heavyweight uncoated paper that makes it feel like an art book and is filled with great illustrations. Its also beautifully designed.

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The models range in size, shape, age and color to present a diverse representation of people who care about how they dress.

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All in all, its been one of my favorite book purchases of the past year. I often pick it up and flip through it to look at the wonderful photography and illustrations or to skim an article again. ITs a refreshingly different take on fashion and beauty and I wish there were more things like this in the world, especially since Worn is no more.

Here is the promo video for the Worn Archive book launch which puts some faces to the staff behind the book and publication:

And this led me to their Secondhand Prom Mash-Up video which made my Monday!

(All photos from Drawn & Quarterly)

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Book Review: The Gentle Art of Domesticity

The Gentle Art of Domesticity

I had postponed reading The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket for several years as I had been (as might be described in Jane Austen’s Persuasion) “persuaded” by an older, more well-read (at least when it came to the subject of domestic arts) friend that the book was haphazard and inaccurate. On a holiday whim, I added it to my Amazon wishlist in hopes of a secondhand copy to test my friend’s theory.

The Gentle Art of Domesticity

I’ve read about 50 pages so far and I feel vindicated to have overlooked the prejudices and given this book a chance.

Rather than attempting to be an all-encompassing history and cultural overview of all the facets of the “gentle arts”, this book is the perspective of one well-read, well-educated, modern woman and her passions for the “home arts” — i.e. baking, sewing, quilting, gardening and knitting and such.

The Gentle Art of Domesticity

I find it a hugely enjoyable book that I will both share and covet (look out secondhand bookshops, I will need additional copies because I am keeping my edition). I can already think of several people who would enjoy this book and intend to refer back to it regularly for ideas and inspiration. I have already jotted down lists of book recommendations, artists I would like to learn more about,  a few knitting projects and some recipes I’d like to try.

The Gentle Art of Domesticity

The Gentle Art of Domesticity

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Book Review: The Secret Lives of Dresses

As I’m sure you’ve already read The Secret Lives of Dresses or added it to your GoodReads queue, I won’t go into to too much detail about this book. But, on the off-hand chance that you haven’t heard about this book, allow me to recommend it to you now.

The premise of the book is Dora, a college grad with no specific life direction, is called home to her sickly grandmother where she must decide to either save her grandmother’s vintage clothing store or let it go. Dora is, like most college students, vague about her future prospects and largely uninterested in the frilly, fancy vintage confections that her grandmother loved.

As expected, her grandmother’s illness changes Dora’s opinion about vintage clothes and the course of her life.

I love to think that finding vintage fashion will alter one’s life perspective as it certainly has changed mine but I know some people will find the book overly fantastic and unrealistic. Isn’t that why we read books? We want the happy ending, or at least I do.

I was particularly taken by the actual “secret lives of dresses” — the short stories sprinkled throughout the book about the lives the dresses led before coming to the vintage shop. Its made me think more about the life my vintage clothes led before they came to me. Were the dresses at fancy parties, graduations, anniversaries or barbeques? Were they worn by housewives, school teachers or working girls? As a result, several of my dresses have earned names — not necessarily clever names but names just the same that separate them as unique items with a specific personality and past. My Pendleton jacket is now just called Penny — she’s spunky and ready for adventure, I imagine her former owner put on penny loafers and tied her hair back in a ponytail to fix a bike tire, weed a garden or collect books for a charity drive. She’s my go-to girl.

Other dresses are slowly revealing their names and pasts to me and I thank Erin McKean for making me think about the past in a new way.

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Book review: A Vintage Affair

I’ve read many of Isabel Wolff’s previous books and several of them can be described as quintessential chick lit — girl who works in publishing falls for the wrong guy before she discovers the right guy sorts of stories. So I was pleasantly surprised when I came across her newest novel, A Vintage Affair. This story deals starts when the protagonist Phoebe leaves her job as an auctioneer to open a vintage clothing store. I loved the descriptions of the clothing and the design of her shop. Phoebe has a bit of emotional baggage to contend with through the story as well as befriending an elderly woman with her own stories to tell all while surrounded by beautiful vintage garments.

Without giving away too much of the story, let me just say that I loved the story. It has a little history, a little fashion and a little romance all sandwiched between its hardback covers. A Vintage Affair is the perfect light read and it will certainly stir the urge to scout out every vintage store that crosses your path.

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