Monday, February 11, 2013

W6: WomanStyle

No sooner did this week’s book, a definitive guide on women’s fashion published in 1979, come out of the Biblio-Mat then I was approached by a woman who offered to swap her random acquisition on model ships for it. I graciously declined for I am a man of virtue and integrity and to switch out a book would be cheating the intent of this project, plus I already spend a great deal of time writing in the basement of the AGO surrounded by actual model ships and the notion of glamrock and hip flares seemed more entertaining.

The lack of a space signifies cutting edge.
If you have ever wondered what body style you are or if that pair of crochet shorts are appropriate for winter gatherings, then this 1979 book by Leah Feldon is a must read. For the rest of us with Y chromosomes, WomanStyle is still an enlightening look at the much maligned fashion era that is the 70s. Sadly, though, shoulder-pads were not quite a staple of the decade as much as it was the 80s but the seventy-five colour images still provided sufficient amusement.

Brilliant editor, mediocre at furniture camouflaging.
The opening chapter introduces what the perfectly proportioned body looks like, along with all the reasons, in detail, on why 90% of the women in society will not fit into this “privileged and elite group”. Ten years or so ago there was a show called ‘Are You Hot?’ where a panel of judges critiqued people’s bodies on stage. This section was not unlike that show. But fret not, tucked between the in-depth flaw assessments is the nugget of advice to not be overcritical. Crises averted.

Looking like that exempts you from good penmanship.
The following chapters were vastly more useful, though, with sections on what to wear, how to wear it, and most importantly understanding lines of all sorts, for fashion is all about lines - necklines, hemlines, bustlines, waistlines, etc (the smaller  the better if this book is any indication). Being quite versed in sartorial knowledge, I was duly impressed on the amount of practical and useful fashion advice contained within that was still applicable today. My preconception was that much of the book would date itself but sections on garment care, colour theory, and fabric selection makes this publication timeless and relevant for any age.

Mostly timeless, anyway.
I was very much sold on this book, until the section on shoes and footwear. Feldon opens with the virtues of owning comfortable footwear and keeping her shoe wardrobe to a minimum. All credibility suddenly flew out of the beige bellbottomed window. I have lived with enough women to know that shoes are the lifeblood of women’s fashion, and quite possibly their existence. It is a fact of life. I remember carrying one of my roommates through the streets of LA after dinner once because her four inch heels made her feet bleed and she couldn’t walk the three blocks back to the hotel. Two weeks later she bought the same pair in leopard print. Comfort and practicality do not even register on the consideration list for choosing shoes. The true extent of the author's fashion knowledge has become questionable at best. Follow the advice in WomenStyle at your own discretion.

Book rating: 8.5/10 (the garment care page now lets me snip clothing tags with reckless abandon)

Random quote: “One other thing you’re going to need, aside from your iron will, is a good-quality full-length mirror – one of life’s absolute necessities. There is simply no way to truly see proportion without it. So if you don’t have one, turn to “Mirrors” in your Yellow Pages, do some comparison shopping and have one delivered.”

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