When I was asked to to a review on a re-released edition of Anne Fogarty's "Wife Dressing", I jumped at the chance. Anne Fogarty is the woman who is credited with bringing Dior's "New Look" to American housewives. She is best known for her love of full skirts and petticoats, and nipped in waists (she was blessed with an 18 inch waist, though she attributes that to wearing shapewear everyday). Although she was a prominent designer, she thought of herself first and foremost as a wife.
All three times.
Now, the title may have you rolling you eyes, but there are few instances where Anne (I'm going to call her Anne and pretend we're good friends) brings up dressing for your husbands sake. It's full of advice and timeless tips that women have, over time, forgotten. I could relate to so much of it, I wondered if Anne and I could have actually been friends once upon a time.
When I get dressed in the morning I think through what my day will be like: what I will be doing, the climate indoor and out, how long I will be away from home if at all, how much I will be walking, who I will be with, the list goes on. Point is, I put what some might think is too much thought into dressing, whereas reading what Anne wrote, that is just what every woman should be doing for a successful outfit. She talks extensively about brining a tote, or large bag with you when you will be out of the house all day, full of things you may need. Shoes to change into for evening, fresh gloves for a lunch date, different jewelry, makeup, etc. You would carry a small clutch in the large bag and keep the large bag in your car, office, or whatever you choose, and take out the clutch when you go out to lunch, shopping, etc.
She writes about personal experiences and describes outfits in detail, and some of her choices really surprise me. I thought she would be quite a traditional post war era woman, but she has some non-traditional favorites, such as tweed cocktail dresses, mink purses, and thinks the little black dress is a tad overworn.
I really enjoyed her book, she assures the reader that "You are you. You are not the model in that photograph or the girl beside you in an elevator or a woman eating lunch at the next table." I enjoyed her advice for cocktail parties, hosting dinners for husbands bosses, and especially her recollection of packing a suitcase of nothing but petticoats only to have it opened at customs and burst into a fluffy mess.
In a way it made me a bit sad that such care and pride is no longer practiced with dressing for modern times, but that is a post for another time. I do recommend Wife Dressing to anyone seeking timeless advice in dressing, a bit of a giggle, and some insight into the life and thoughts of a great american designer. And while I think wardrobe isn't quite the secret to a happy marriage, I do believe that it's something that can lift the spirits and make one feel good about oneself. I think Anne and I could agree on that :)
Published in 2008 by Glitterati Incorporated