36. The Secret Lives of Dresses

Book Reviews / Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Eyelet ruffles, black chiffon, mother-of-pearl buttons, brooches, Italian knit suits, housedresses, brown Weejuns, regal gowns…. Do the clothes make the woman?  We’ve heard phrases uttered many times to this effect.  I guess I would answer it can help in certain circumstances.  As for The Secret Lives of Dresses it seems to help Dora the principal character of the story a lot.  I’m not a crazy head over heels vintage shopper, but I do enjoy checking out the accessories, so this book jumped out at me.  I couldn’t help thinking about my grand-mother through this story.  The vintage jargon brings a feeling of nostalgia and comfort.  You should grab a cuppa and snuggle next to a nice fire to enjoy this simple but sentimental story.

Dora is a young intelligent woman who is heading toward graduate school early and hasn’t got a clue what she wants to do with her life.  She’s working in the college coffee-house at Lymond College and has an enormous crush on her flirtatious boss that doesn’t date undergrads Dora.  Mimi, Dora’s grandmother, has had a stroke and is hospitalized.  Dora is left to run her grandmother’s vintage clothing shop, unsure that Mimi will recover.  When one day, Dora realizes that Mimi has been writing secret stories about some of the dresses in her shop.   Not only does Dora become acquainted with the shop where she grew up, but simple housedresses, smart suits, and cotton shirtdresses start to become her new flattering vintage wardrobe which take her down the route of life she hadn’t bargained for.

Erin McKean wrote The Secret Lives of Dresses in February 2011.  She is actually a lexicographer and the founder and CEO of www.wordnik.com, which is an extensive online dictionary.  She equally blogs about dresses on www.dressaday.com and writes about words on www.dictionaryevangelist.com.  I would say she’s got that mix of a fresh retro style and a nerdy interesting knack for words.  Check Erin McKean out below talking about words and dictionaries on TEDTalks.  You can get a good sense of who she is.  Wonder if she’ll write a second fiction novel?  I’m sure it will be worth four stars like this one.

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.

                                                                 ——- Gustave FLAUBERT

10 Replies to “36. The Secret Lives of Dresses”

  1. So far i only knew about Stevie Wonder’s “secret life of plants” now i’m going to discover the secret life of dresses, well life is for learning right ?

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