Clothes… and other things that matter by Alexandra Shulman is a fascinating non fiction read. Alexandra Shulman is the former Editor-in-Chief for British Vogue magazine, so she knows a thing or two about clothes. In her new book, Alexandra Shulman asks questions such as;
Why do we wear the things we wear?
And why do we keep some items for a very long time and yet some we get don’t?
Which items we attach an emotional value to and why?
And what could be said about the world we live in by looking at the clothes we wear.
Book Cover Notes
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.
From the bra to the bikini, the trench coat to trainers, 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.
Shulman explores the person our clothes allow us to be – and sometimes the person they turn us into.
At the beginning of Clothes… and other things that matter, the author shares an inventory of what’s currently in her wardrobe. It reads as quite a long list, but wouldn’t you expect a former editor of Vogue magazine to have a large and interesting wardrobe collection, I certainly did. I enjoyed the honesty in that list, I’m sure most of us would be amazed at how much ‘stuff’ we have too if we were to pull everything out of our wardrobes, cupboards and draws. (Unless you’ve already been Marie Kondo’d 🙂 )
The authors style of writing is chatty and easy to read. The book offers a glimpse into the world of Vogue and fashion but its not a gossip and glamour book. This is a personal look back at what clothes have meant to her. The relationship she has had with certain clothes due to her shape, height, decade and personality type.
Each chapter covers a different item of clothing such as hats, handbags, denim, white shoes (my personal dislike especially with black tights, I mean what is that?!). I did chuckle at the 80s glam, shoulder pads, dodgy perms and wardrobe malfunctions. We’ve all been there right?
The Perfect Dress… “During the Vogue years, I was always publishing pictures captioned the ‘perfect’ this and the ‘perfect’ that. Perfect is a winning word. But by definition, it is also wildly imprecise and totally inaccurate. You could go as far as saying it is a lie. Perfection is only in the eye of the beholder or the person who is making that value judgement. As a reality it is surely nonexistent.”
Throughout the book the author shares certain items that she has kept because they have a special meaning to her. Whether it’s a memory of a vogue photoshoot, a glamorous party event or a gift from a family member. It reminded me of some of the things I hold onto, especially jewellery, that when I wear or look at, they take me back to a moment or a special person. They are the clothes that matter.
The Chanel Jacket… “I regard them as an insurance policy. I feel safer in the knowledge that they are there for me to wear should I need to impress a prospective employer of some kind. I know that although they are decades old they are still an effective shorthand. I can put on a Chanel jacket and a pair of heels and immediately I can be seen by the wider world, as somebody who, at some point, edited Vogue.”
At times I found it difficult to relate to the authors viewpoint as it’s clear she has had a privileged upbringing. There were some observations and opinions, including political ones, that I felt were unnecessary for the book topic. But I guess that’s the fascination with memoirs like this, you do get a glimpse into someone else’s life, even if it’s a world away from your own.
Whilst reading this book I was prompted to reflect on my own preferred style of clothes. Having recently turned 50 I am definitely changing my relationship with clothes. Preferring less fast fashion and more classic items that will mix and match well and last a long time, much like the wardrobe of the author.
This isn’t a behind the scenes, gossip and glamour vogue book. It’s one woman’s thoughts and observations on the history of clothes and what they mean to her and the memories certain items can trigger.
An interesting read for fashion enthusiasts.
Where To Buy
Further book info
- Published Date: 10th June 2021
- Publisher: Cassell
- Page Count: 368
About The Author
Alexandra Shulman is a journalist, consultant and commentator. She was Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue from 1992–2017, the magazine’s longest serving editor.
Shulman has been Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and is an honorary fellow of the University of the Arts. She won 2017 Periodical Publisher’s Association Editor’s Editor Award and The Drapers Award 2017 for Outstanding Contribution to Fashion. Shulman is Vice President of The London Library and was awarded the CBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List.
She has a weekly column in the Mail on Sunday, is a contributor to other national newspapers and has written two novels: Can We Still Be Friends? (2012) and The Parrots (2015). Inside Vogue: The Diary of My 100th Year was published by Fig Tree in October 2016. Alexandra was featured in a three-part primetime BBC series on Vogue’s centenary year in 2016.
Where to Find Alexandra Online
I hope you’ve enjoyed my book review of Clothes… and other things that matter by Alexandra Shulman. Don’t forget to check out the authors other books:
Inside Vogue: My Diary Of Vogue’s 100th Year
Alexandra Shulman reveals the emotional and logistical minefield of producing the 100th anniversary issue (that Duchess of Cambridge cover surprise), organising the star-studded Vogue 100 Gala, working with designers from Victoria Beckham to Karl Lagerfeld and contributors from David Bailey to Alexa Chung. All under the continual scrutiny of a television documentary crew.
Summer, 1983. Best friends, Sal, Annie and Kendra are fresh-faced and fresh out of university. Three very different girls about to walk three very different but equally tangled paths . . .
Outsiders see things others don’t.
Blessed with status, love, wealth and connections the Tennisons seemed the most enviable of families – until Antonella and Matteo Fullardi, dangerously attractive Italian siblings and offspring of an Italian fashion dynasty, enter their well-managed lives.
Blog Tour Organised by
Random Things Tours
Thanks to Anne @randomttours for inviting me on the tour and thanks also to Cassell publishing, Alexandra Shulman for me copy of the book for an honest review..
More Book Reviews like this from Touring Tales:
Quite by Claudia Winkleman – This is a love letter to life – the real, sometimes messy kind. Quite celebrates friendship, the power of art, the highs and lows of parenting, and of course, how a good eyeliner can really save your life.
Resourceful Living by Lisa Dawson – multi-award-winning interiors blogger, writer, workshop presenter and social media influencer. How to revamp your home with existing pieces, vintage finds and key purchases.
A year of living simply by Kate Humble – Kate Humble’s fresh and frank exploration of a stripped-back approach to life.