Clothes…and Other Things That Matter – Alexandra Shulman

Published by: Cassell
Pages: 352
Date released: 23/04/2020
Date read: 01/06/2020

In Clothes…and Other Things That Matter, Alexandra Shulman delves into her own life to look at the emotions, ambitions, expectations and meanings behind the way we dress.

In 40 essays covering everything from the bra to the bikini, the trench coat to sneakers, the slip dress to the suit, she explores their meaning in women’s lives and how our wardrobes intersect with the larger world – the career ladder, motherhood, romance, sexual identity, ambition, failure, body image and celebrity.

By turns funny, refreshingly self-deprecating and often very moving, this startlingly honest memoir from the ex-Editor of British Vogue will encourage women of all ages to consider what their own clothes mean to them, the life they live in them and the stories they tell.

I adore Alexandra Shulman and her writing. I mean, I’ve never met her and she might be more like Miranda from The Devil Wears Prada, but through her books, I love her. This is her second book I’ve got and it’s just so nice to read.

She has a way of depicting quite a high-end, elitist (meant in the best way) life of top fashion magazine editing in such an everyday way, like there’s no reason why we can’t all be top Vogue editors, and I love that. In the currant climate, it might seem frivolous to be discussing clothes as if they matter more than just to protect our modesty, but Alexandra really explains just how emotional clothing and accessories can be.

To me, especially during the pandemic, clothes have literally just been about comfort. A rotation of half a dozen pairs of jogging bottoms, vests, jumpers and slippers. I didn’t think I held particularly personal connections to items of clothing, but after I read this, I went into my wardrobe and had a look through my clothes. There was the black blouse I wore to my father’s funeral; the navy dress I wore to my aunt’s funeral; the (hideous) striped dress I wore to my graduation; my first pair of heels I bought with my own money; the dress I could once fit into before now struggles a bit since it shrunk in the wardrobe. Clothes have the power to hold an emotion that you didn’t even realise was there, and Alexandra has depicted that perfectly.

My one issue with the book though, potentially a tiny thing, is that the photos are all in black and white. Not a huge issue you would think, but when you get to chapters specifically about colour – about gold clothes, navy clothes, or large brash costume jewellery – it would help to tie it all together if you could actually see the colours she is talking about.

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