The Thoughtful Dresser

Linda Grant

The Thoughtful Dresser

'A good handbag makes the outfit. Only the rich can afford cheap shoes. The only thing worse than being skint is looking as if you're skint.' For centuries, an interest in clothes has been dismissed as the trivial pursuit of vain empty-headed women. Yet, clothes matter, whether you are interested in fashion or not because what we choose to dress ourselves in defines our identity. For the immigrant arriving in a new country to the teenager who needs to be part of the fashion pack or the woman turning forty who must reassess her wardrobe, the truth is that how we look and what we wear, tells a story. And what a story. 3.8 out of 5 based on 8 reviews
The Thoughtful Dresser

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Family & Lifestyle
Format Paperback
Pages 320
RRP £11.99
Date of Publication March 2009
ISBN 978-1844085569
Publisher Virago
 

'A good handbag makes the outfit. Only the rich can afford cheap shoes. The only thing worse than being skint is looking as if you're skint.' For centuries, an interest in clothes has been dismissed as the trivial pursuit of vain empty-headed women. Yet, clothes matter, whether you are interested in fashion or not because what we choose to dress ourselves in defines our identity. For the immigrant arriving in a new country to the teenager who needs to be part of the fashion pack or the woman turning forty who must reassess her wardrobe, the truth is that how we look and what we wear, tells a story. And what a story.

Reviews

The Guardian

Alice Rawsthorn

Her book is short on vanity (there are doleful references to her family's thick ankles) and has a warmth that is generally missing from the scholarly critiques of fashion theorists. For a thoughtful dresser like me, it is a treat to read someone writing seriously about the pleasure of clothes, having ploughed through joyless economic and psychological analyses of the subject... I only wish that Linda Grant had written this funny, perceptive book years ago.

21/03/2009

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The Independent

Catherine Horwood

Well done to Grant for pricking the pomposity of the more academic dress historians. Instead, she turns to look at the place of fashion in literature, the growth of department stores as havens for emancipated women, and the rising influence of designers such as Christian Dior. But this is no paean of praise for fashion. It is the pleasure, and the angst, of choosing, buying and wearing clothes that fascinate Grant... Thanks to [her] stimulating and beautifully-written book, I for one will be feeling less guilty on my next visit to Liberty's.

03/04/2009

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The Times

Sarah Vine

In less fiercely intelligent hands, this book might have struggled to keep its chin up. But Grant has a sharp mind, and is not afraid to wield it... Her ideas come at you thick, fast and well argued... This is a book that celebrates fashion in the most intelligent, heartfelt and irresistible of ways.

14/03/2009

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The Observer

Viv Groskop

The Thoughtful Dresser is exactly what you would expect from this author: compelling, analytical, surprising. It's also funny... I questioned whether sometimes Grant wasn't a little too self-defensive; after all, she has an authoritative voice and doesn't need to apologise for herself... The thing is, anyone who finds fashion trivial won't be tempted to pick this up in any case, which is their loss. There is, however, a whole army of women who have been crying out for The Thoughtful Dresser.

01/03/2009

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The Daily Mail

Val Hennessey

As riveting as Grant's book undoubtedly is, it does nothing to change my opinion that women who are slaves to fashion and who bang on about clothes all the time are vacuous, self-indulgent, frivolous twits.

09/03/2009

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The Financial Times

Leah Armstrong

...she is most successful when discussing the concept of clothing as armour: a means by which to protect oneself in times of adversity... Unfortunately, the book’s exclusively female perspective undermines Grant’s claim that fashion is a universal human interest. Like the retail experience itself, The Thoughtful Dresser is comforting and reassuring, but ultimately rather unfulfilling.

06/04/2009

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The Sunday Times

Zoë Heller

[Grant] repeatedly insists that she is not interested in discussing the politics of her fashion habit... But beneath this pose of Paris Hilton style complacency, there evidently lurks some residual anxiety. It emerges in the jarring attempt to use Auschwitz as a rationale for owning an Armani. It shows up in her insistence that she has “earned the right” to wear a Nicole Fahri shearling... A thoughtful dresser would have considered where and by whom the shearling coat that she so richly deserves was actually made.

01/03/2009

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The Daily Telegraph

Lynn Barber

Grant’s book is based on her “thoughtful dresser” blog and I am beginning to recognise the symptoms of blog books – a lack of consistency, or form, or structure, a plethora of eye-catching controversial statements but no sustained argument to back them up. I found reading this book almost exactly reproduced the feelings I get from clothes shopping – keen anticipation quickly followed by frustration, weariness, confusion, and bitter disappointment when something that looked good from a distance turns out to be poorly made.

06/03/2009

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