Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fear and Clothing: Required Reading

A few weeks ago, I happened across a review in the Globe and Mail of Cintra Wilson's new book, Fear and Clothing: Unbuckling American Style. Intrigued sufficiently to place an order with Amazon, I waited and waited for this book to come through the door. It was worth the wait. This is the most insightful exploration of why we wear what we wear that I've come across. Also the most hilarious. The story about the return of Uncle Rick's swagger via cowboy hat is laugh-out-loud funny. As a hat person I "get it" when she writes that the "right hat can be serious voodoo when the cosmos demonstrates it is yours-- your head and the hat seem to instantly embrace, and beneath this union you may find yourself instantly transformed". 

The breadth of the author's exploration is breathtaking, as she travels across and around the States, from the Bible Belt (Alabama) to the Gun Belt (Kansas) to the Macrame Belt (San Francisco) to the Beltway (Wash, DC). She takes us from her teenage friend, Mitzy, dressed all in black with veil (a look the author's mother described as "Satan's Beekeeper"), through her punk days, her time in rehab, and her career as a fashion writer for the NY Times. 
But seriously, Ms. Wilson makes the important distinction between Fashion and Style, the former being for robots ("fantasies for people who have forgotten how to have any of their own"), and the latter being "magic, connective, and humanizing". She states toward the end of her book,

Finding your style is like finding God--it's utterly personal. You find your truths wherever they find you, and you recognize them because they irresistibly resonate with you.

On the last page, she writes,

Let fashion be a means of expanding your ability to recognize the profligate and promiscuous nature of beauty. Beauty, like nature, does not discriminate. Everyone gets to have it, every day.

Really, this is what this gem of a book is all about. I'm not sure about other knitters out there, but it's a big part of why I knit, and why I like to design what I knit. Cintra Wilson makes this most important point of all: is too short to wear disguises that hide you from the world, because these choices can end up hiding you from yourself...your true beauty is found by boldly striding down the most daringly personal catwalk that you allow yourself to explore.

Thanks for this reminder, Cintra. Now I'm fired up to do just that!


  1. Thanks for the information. I need to get my hands on this book!

  2. I'm not sure how I missed this review in the Globe. It sounds like a fascinating book. The woman I know who look great have Style.

  3. Wow! Thanks so much for this review...popping off to Amazon now.