Women in Clothes [BOOK REVIEW]

Book Reviews, Fashion & Beauty

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Women in Clothes is a collection of surveys about garments of clothing and how they shape our lives. It’s an intriguing 500+ page conversation that you’d have with your girlfriends, reflecting on all aspects of clothing, garments, and beauty. I loved the photos of real women’s clothing collections from the false eyelashes and dress sets, to grey sweaters and raincoats– proving that all women have a type of garment they covet more than anything. I enjoyed reading the various features and found that I had something in common with the way that each woman dresses.

I know the kind of dresser I want to be — a sophisticated, classy, vintage goddess with so much sass it turns heads. When I picture myself working and living in Toronto, that’s what I see. In reality I live so far north of the city it’s a mission to get down there, and the closest I’ve come to vintage is wearing the clothes my best friend gives away. She’s got great taste but our bodies are so different that her clothes never look right on me, I feel strange when I wear them, like I’m pretending to be someone else. Funds, patience, and the mindset that I don’t have to look great if I’m just running errands has dictated my style for years, but I am willing to change. I’m willing to take a good hard look at who I am and let my clothing express that. Even the best dressed women put on their pants one leg at a time.

There is no exact science to the way I dress but I do have a few rules for myself:

  • NEVER wear a tight top with wearing leggings or tights, make sure the top is loose and covers your crotch
  • if your pants are baggy wear a tighter shirt and vice versa
  • tuck in your shirts when wearing high-waisted pants
  • heels and a blazer make every outfit better
  • jewelry is your friend — your mom has a boatload for you to borrow

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Women in Clothes has so many layers of information, stories, and photos. I found the project called Ring Cycle truly interesting — fifteen women who work in a newspaper office photocopy their hands and talk about their rings. I enjoyed learning where and how these women came to own their rings — it made me look at the only ring I wear a little differently. My boyfriend bought it for me for Valentine’s day about four years ago, it’s technically a promise ring with a blue diamond (representing honesty, fidelity, and love) hidden on the inside of the band. He doesn’t call it a promise ring though, it’s a just because I love you so much ring. I wear it on the middle finger of my left hand because I felt it would be bad luck to wear it on my wedding finger. It’s white gold, simple and beautiful. I never take it off (except to shower and sleep) and I’ll never forget his bashful face or nervously sweaty temples when he handed it to me.

Another one of their projects entitled Mothers As Others was incredibly moving and wonderful to read. The premise was for women to send in a photo of their mother before she had children and write what they saw. While reading, I couldn’t help but wonder what their mothers’ reactions would be to what their daughters thought about them. Do they know how beautiful their daughters think they are? How much they inspired their lives, as well as fashion? I found a few photos of my mom before she had kids, these might have even been taken before she met my dad. She’s probably only eighteen or nineteen but she looks mature for her age. She looks confident and happy in her own skin, she appears strong and fierce, like she knows exactly where she’s supposed to be. She’s beautiful and her smile is endless. She’s got amazing hair (look at those bangs) and knows how to dress for her figure. I love the high-waist skirts and pants, the belts, and the collared shirts she wears. My mom still has a great sense for fashion (she helps me pick outfits all the time), a timeless style, and sometimes I see glimpses of the confidence she embodied all those years ago.

The best part about Women in Clothes is not the great writing or even the interesting surveys, it’s being able to place each survey or project into the confines of your own life. I learned so much about myself, my style, and the person I want to share with the world by reading this book. Although this book has a lot to do with clothes, how we wear them, and how we feel in them, mostly it shows the reader that they are not alone. There are so many women out there that think like you, that have the same insecurities and questions about clothing as you, just open the book to page one and you’ll find that out.

 “Taste is a wink, not a thud.”

Talk soon,
Vanessa
* Quote from page 22 of Women in Clothes
*Thanks to Penguin Random House for this book
*Thoughts are my own

 

how to feel less (a)lone(ly)

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

Don’t you just love how to posts? Especially ones that ensure that if you follow all 5/10/25 steps you’ll be happier/smarter/techier/the best blogger ever/hired? I love them too, they’re one of my guilty pleasures because even just thinking about doing those things makes me feel that much better/happier/whatever-er. It is rare that I put those thoughts into action but I’m going to try to make an effort to do so, even if some lists are lame.

Based on recent experience I wanted to share my own how to list. As in HOW TO FEEL LESS (a)LONE(ly). This is easier said than done and there are many exceptions to every how to list but alas, here it is:

1. GO OUT AND TALK TO PEOPLE. PEOPLE NEED PEOPLE/ISLANDS ARE BORING. CONNECT WITH PEOPLE THROUGH CONVERSATION (FACE-TO-FACE NOT VIA EMAIL). IF SEEING IS BELIEVING THEN YOU SHOULD PROBABLY SEE YOUR FRIENDS INSTEAD OF JUST BELIEVING THAT THEY ARE STILL IN YOUR LIFE.

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2. DON’T FEAR SOLITUDE. DON’T FEAR BEING ALONE. JUST FIND SOMETHING YOU LOVE TO DO AND DO IT. FOLLOW YOUR PASSIONS. YOU’LL FEEL FULFILLED, CREATIVE, AND ALIVE. LEARN HOW TO LOVE LOVE AND ALL THAT IT REPRESENTS.

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3. IF THAT DOESN’T WORK, SURROUND YOURSELF WITH BOOKS. ENTER A NEW WORLD AND MEET “NEW PEOPLE”. THIS IS JUST A BACK UP THOUGH. TRY NUMBER ONE AND TWO OVER AND OVER UNTIL YOU FEEL LIKE A HUMAN BEING AGAIN.

photo 2This process may not work for you. I know that we all go through phases where we just want to be alone, where we don’t want to talk to anyone, where we just want to disconnect and run away from the world. Constant attachment to our phones and social media require us to have a tech-detox every once in a while but that doesn’t necessarily mean we need to stop connecting with people. Maybe you’re not sick of people, maybe you’re just sick of the way you connect with them. It’s so easy to feel lonely when the only form of communication you have with your bestie/boyfriend/sister is through text message, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. It’s too easy to lose focus on your life, to envy the lives of other people when you soak up all of their social media posts. There’s no need for that. There is no need to hide from the world just because you think others are living a better life than you — Instagram ain’t the whole story.

Wait? Am I rambling. Yes. Okay… what was I saying? Oh yeah. Stop pushing people away, stop “liking” photos and start making memories. Tell someone in person how much you loved their photos from their trip (or better yet ask them to coffee and see the photos in person, maybe even hear about all of the moments that  they can’t share in a photo).

Feeling lonely? Stop hiding. Start living. 

“being alone never felt right. sometimes it felt good, but it never felt right.”
― Charles BukowskiWomen

“The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.”
― Mitch AlbomThe Five People You Meet in Heaven – Meniti Bianglala

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

“Then think what sweetness is, and how you must find it again.”

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

In a place and time when arranged marriages are the norm, when a dowry can put families in a huge amount of debt, when a husband can find a new wife should his current wife not bare him a son, when daughters are considered ‘mistakes’ and are expected to marry, keep house, and produce sons, Anu and Damini find the strength and courage to persevere.

My latest Random House read is The Selector of Souls by Shauna Singh Baldwin.

Before this novel I had never read anything by Shauna Singh Baldwin and I am glad that I gave her a chance. They way she moulds and blends two stories of two different women, while keeping in mind the history of which the story springs is flawless.

So, the ultimate question, do I love this novel? In all honesty it hasn’t found its way into my top five favourite books list but there were a lot of things that I liked about it, starting with the main characters. I found is easy to fall in love with Anu and her will to change her life when many other women in her position wouldn’t have dared. It was a little harder for me to sympathize with Damini, a women who seemed torn by what is ‘right’ and what is tradition. I learned a lot from both women but I found Anu’s perseverance most enlightening. Perhaps my favourite quote from this novel is said by Anu after she makes a life-altering decision, one that her family does not understand.

“I could live to be a hundred and never meet everyone’s expectations, Aunty,” (page 166).

How true that is. Although I have never had to struggle with the kind of hardships the women in this novel had to, I understand what it’s like to be afraid that you won’t meet the expectations that people have set for you. I also understand the courage it takes to do something that most people would scorn you for. Because of that I am truly glad I read this novel.

I will warn you that I struggled a little with this one, I found some parts a little slow (granted the novel is over 500 pages so one is expected to read a little slow) but I knew I had to stick it out. Part of my struggle with the novel had to do with a feeling of guilt that loomed inside me. I have never felt unwanted or as if I was a mistake. I have never had to deal with physical or emotional abuse and the fear that consumes you. I couldn’t imagine switching places with any girl or woman in this novel.

Although the guilt subsided and I eventually let the story take me over, I will never forget what I learned from the women in this novel. I will be more conscious of how lucky I am to be a woman who is treated with love and respect.

Love Always
Vanessa Xo
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Synopsis (from the Random House of Canada Limited website)
The Selector of Souls begins with a scene that is terrifying, harrowing and yet strangely tender: we’re in the mid ranges of the Himalayas as a young woman gives birth to her third child with the help of her mother, Damini. The birth brings no joy, just a horrible accounting, and the act that follows—the huge sacrifice made by Damini out of love of her daughter—haunts the novel.

In Shauna Singh Baldwin’s enthralling novel, two fascinating, strong-willed women must deal with the relentless logic forced upon them by survival: Damini, a Hindu midwife, and Anu, who flees an abusive marriage for the sanctuary of the Catholic church. When Sister Anu comes to Damini’s home village to open a clinic, their paths cross, and each are certain they are doing what’s best for women. What do health, justice, education and equality mean for women when India is marching toward prosperity, growth and becoming a nuclear power? If the baby girls and women around them are to survive, Damini and Anu must find creative ways to break with tradition and help this community change from within.