Books: Wife Dressing

by Erin on March 24, 2008

Wife Dressing

I've been meaning to review Wife Dressing: The Fine Art of Being a Well-Dressed Wife for ages; it's been sitting here on the little typing table I use as an auxiliary desk (which should have a big bin on it labeled "stuff you should get to today but probably won't").

Make no mistake, this is a book primarily about "dressing for HIM" (the sub-subtitle is "With Provocative Notes for the Patient Husband Who Pays the Bills") and, although Fogarty was a very successful designer, she downplays that quite a bit (she spends more time talking about her eighteen-inch waist!). You get the impression that perhaps her Mister (one or all of them; she married three times) wasn't entirely comfortable with a breadwinning wife and that this book, in part, was meant to reassure him that he, too, was important in her life … even if she was selling thousands of dollars of dresses every year.

But once you get past that, the book is full of gems, such as:

A travel wardrobe is personal. … It is a condensation of your regular wardrobe, not a separate entity. After all, you're still the same person whether you're at home or far away, and you'll want familiar garments with you. Never cut your gear so close to the bone that you leave your personality behind.

(italics Fogarty's)

or how about this?

As for flagrant bad taste, there aren't too many examples. Shorts on a city street is one of the worst. This shows a lack of self-respect and a contempt for the people who are properly dressed. …. Strapless dresses in town are as bad. If a dress is strapless, it's either a cocktail dress that should be worn after five or else it's a sundress and should stay in the sun.

And my favorite:

The art of courage and discretion is a clarion cry for individuality, a turning away from slavish adherence to every fashion or beauty trend. Courage and discretion go hand in hand: the courage to dare to be yourself, the discretion not to overdo; the courage to do something unusual, the discretion to temper it.

That's good advice for everyone, whether there's a husband in the picture or not. In fact, it's even good advice for husbands themselves.

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