How to Shop: It’s strange that fashion guides still exist, yet they continue to come out every season.

Jessa Crispin – The Smart Set

Copyright The Smart Set
An excerpt:
… It makes me wonder where Hadley Freeman has been all my life. (Writing for the Guardian, apparently.) Her new book The Meaning of Sunglasses: And a Guide to Almost All Things Fashionable will not make you feel worse about the state of your thighs, nor your brain. Freeman namedrops Andrea Dworkin and poet Joseph Parisi as often as she does Anna Wintour. She’s the one you want on the other side of the changing room, not Redstone. If you came out looking cheap, she would grab you by the shoulders, turn you around, and demand you change immediately. As she writes in the section labeled “Cleavage, and the plumbing of depths,” “Show me a woman with a good three inches of cleavage on display, and I’ll show you a woman who, rightly or wrongly, has little faith in her powers of conversation.”
Freeman wrote a book for women who actually exist. Women who have to wait for buses in the middle of winter. Women who like to dance at parties, and do not want to have to sit in the corner because their feet are bleeding. She knows that these women live in the real world, where fur is not harvested from free-range chinchillas that all die of natural causes (see “Fur: bad”).
She also knows that clothing is not about a set of rules or dressing to please men. “Fashion should be about self-expression, and if your self has a little more going for it than worrying about what pleases either of the two pillars of fashion dictatorship – men’s mags (tight, short, available) or TV-style makeover shows (fluted sleeves, bias cuts, unthreatening) – then flaunt it to the world, and if they don’t like it, that’s just too bad.”
If more fashion writing was done in the tone of smartypants Freeman, we could avoid the fear that caring about our appearance makes us a vain fool or a victim. A work colleague recently took one look at the four-inch peep toe heels I was wearing and snarled, “Don’t you know why men invented high heels?” I doubted anything I said would deflect what was coming next, so I just shrugged. “So you can’t run away when they want to rape you.” I understand. I used to be a humorless feminist, too, complete with shaved head and my father’s combat boots. Then I discovered Charles David heels and got over it. If only The Meaning of Sunglasses had existed sooner, I could have spent less time being a self-righteous twit. • 20 February 2008
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