Book Review: Trappings: Stories of Women, Power, and Clothing

by Erin on January 16, 2008

book cover: Trappings

I've been meaning to write about Trappings for a while now, and then of course I "tidied" my office and an enormous number of things got put in one of those dread piles (from which only now are the bravest and most stalwart to-dos escaping).

But I'm glad this book struggled back to the top, because I thoroughly enjoyed it. The authors, Tiffany Ludwig and Renee Piechocki (who call themselves Two Girls Working) did something very simple, and very worthwhile: they traveled around and interviewed women about what they wore that made them feel powerful, and why.

The clothing (and makeup, and hair, and tattoos, and so forth) that the women interviewed talk about are all over the place: purple capes, red lipstick, cowboy hats, black bras, bellydancing costumes, and tribal dress. Ludwig and Piechocki seem to have done their best to get a good mix of ages, geographic distributions, socioeconomic classes, races, and (admirably) included transpeople, as well.

My only disappointment with the book is not the authors' fault — it was that so few women interviewed had MADE their "powerful items." (I think the only people wearing things that they had made themselves were two women who were Eastern Shoshone and Crow, in traditional dress.) I think making something yourself adds an extra dimension to clothing — I've gotten to the point now where I hardly ever wear a dress or skirt that I didn't make, just because I feel so much better, more competent, and more all-around alive when I'm wearing something I did make.

That said, Trappings is a wonderful read. Check it out!

What do YOU wear that makes you feel powerful? Feel free to tell me in the comments …

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