New Book Help?

by Erin on June 26, 2012

So … I have a new book coming out next year. It’s called The Hundred Dresses, and it’s about the most iconic dress styles of our age, and how and why to wear them.  What do I mean by “iconic dress styles”? Well, it’s everything from fashion classics like the Fortuny column and the Chanel jersey dress, to folklore styles like the wench and the “Guinevere,” ethnic styles like the flamenco, the cheongsam and the sari, as well as pop-culture icons like the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and the “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria” dirndl, and modern touchpoints like the J-Lo (yeah, you know the one I’m talking about) and the Mouret Galaxy. Whew!

Here’s a quick excerpt from the current draft — a dress archetype familiar to regular readers of this blog, the Airship Hostess.

The Airship Hostess dress is not for present-day flight attendants or even stewardesses: it is a purely notional dress for an alternate history where giant cruise-ship-like dirigibles float through the skies, doing the New York to still-exotic San Francisco run at a leisurely 135 mph.

The Airship Hostess dress is vaguely 1930s; vaguely 1940s, but with a distinctly official air. There are useful pockets (usually asymmetrical); there are buttons (usually asymmetrical); there’s a long, narrow skirt and a little collar, and definitely something pointy and art-deco-y going on. It’s worn bare-headed, or with a jaunty little hat, and purses or bags are not carried while on duty (that’s what the pockets are for). Dickies and gloves? Optional.

The women in the Airship Hostess dresses are the heroines of screwball comedies: they’re heiresses running away from their inheritances, grifters on the make (with hearts of gold), dames both dizzy and hard-bitten. They have secrets; they have repartee; they do their safety briefing before takeoff as a patter song. They always fall in love on their voyages, either with the poor boy in steerage (who is a prince in disguise) or with the older, world-weary war correspondent, or (occasionally) with the semi-sloshed and semi-louche lounge piano player.

Even though modern airships are limited to thrill rides and hovering over major sporting events (yawn) the Airship Hostess dress is not. It’s amazing how competent a trim, tailored, functional dress — one that isn’t trying to be a man’s suit — can make you feel. The Airship Hostess is prepared for any disaster on the ground or in the skies (short of a full-on Hindenberg), and you can be too.

So here’s where I could use your help — I need a subtitle, and I need it *now*. The usual publishing practice of just adding “… and how they CHANGED the WORLD” as a subtitle isn’t really working for this one, sadly. Any suggestions? I will pick my favorite from any comments left on this post today, and send the winner a copy of my last book (signed, if you like!) and also a random piece of fabric or pattern from my stash! (How’s that for incentive?)

I’m also looking for some “who wore it best” type links to pictures of famousish people wearing the archetypes. I’ve set up a Pinterest Board and tried to put up pictures of all the types … if you know where to find a picture of, say, Cameron Diaz wearing the Airship Hostess (oh, if only she WOULD) or Zooey Deschanel wearing a “Face” dress … or Drew Barrymore wearing the Flower Child Bride … and so on, Pinterest lets you leave comments on the pins. Which would be awesome.

What else can I tell you? It’s being published by Bloomsbury (they’re wonderful). It’s illustrated — every dress! — by Donna Mehalko, who is super-wonderful. It will be out in 2013 sometime, available wherever books are sold.

{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

Ophelinha June 26, 2012 at 1:52 pm

The Hundred Dresses that Made History?(or fashion, glamour history)


Vicky Butts June 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm

The Hundred Dresses and How to Wear Them, or The Hundred Dresses and Why Every Woman Needs Them.


Penny June 26, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Here are a couple suggestions:

Asymmetrical Proficiency

Asymmetrical Aptitude


ParisGrrl June 26, 2012 at 2:21 pm

The Hundred Dresses:

the most iconic dresses of our times, and how you can (still) wear them today.


Penny June 26, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Oh…are you looking for a subtitle for the book, rather than the Airship Hostess dress? Sorry! I haven’t had coffee yet. Let’s see…how about:

Symbols of Our Time

(may sound too soap-opera-ish…wish I could help more; gotta run to work! The best of luck to you!!)


WSB June 26, 2012 at 2:45 pm

iconic frocks and why to wear them now


WSB June 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

or rethink the whole thing
Iconic Frocks – 100 dresses to wear now


Connie June 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

How about:

Iconic Fashion Archetypes


Susan June 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm

The Hundred Dresses
Shaped and Worn by Culture and History


Sara C June 26, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I love that the title is The Hundred Dresses, it makes of the girl and all her drawings in Eleanor Estes book of the same title.

The Hundred Dresses
iconic dresses

The Hundred Dresses
influential dress styles of our times

The Hundred Dresses
dresses to dream about

The Hundred Dresses
style, flair, and glamor

The Hundred Dresses
a trip through dress style

I don’t really like any of those entirely but maybe they will spark an idea for you.


M Swinson June 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm

How about:
1) …And the women who wear them
2) …That make time stand still
3) …That changed a century
4) …Forever classic, forever modern

That’s all I’ve got!


Natalie June 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm

-a field guide of fashionable frocks


Leah Z June 26, 2012 at 8:42 pm

I really like Natalie’s

The Hundred Dresses; A Field Guide of Fashionable Frocks


Tracey brower June 26, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Vote number 2 for Natalie’s. Like.


LinB June 26, 2012 at 4:45 pm

“The Hundred Dresses” is already an iconic children’s book, written by Eleanor Estes in 1944. It is a Newbery Honor book. You could call your book “The 100 Dresses” perhaps.


Erin June 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm

yep! That was my inspiration … I love that book!


LinB June 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Oh, I know! It is one of my favorites. I am so glad that your tribute to that old book will lead readers who have never seen it to seek it out! The story is inspiring, the drawings amazing.


Aimee June 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm

I think the subtitle should have silhouettes or shapes in it. Something like this?

Iconic Silhouettes That Shape What We Wear



Amy June 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Maybe make it a bit more punchier and say
Iconic Silhouettes For You To Wear

I like the silhouette idea – afterall, the shape of the dress is what we recognize, more so than the components of fabric, thread or notions.


Ann V. June 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm

From gowns to pinafores: dresses that defined the cultural zeitgeist.


Anne June 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm

How about “Revealing the Modern Goddess”?


Tracey July 9, 2012 at 12:26 pm

I really like this one, I would buy that title


Christine Lonzello June 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm

The Hundred Dresses: Mood, Magic and Meaning
The Hundred Dresses: Mood, Magic and Metaphor


Evalyn June 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm

One Hundred Dresses: from Airship Hostess to Warrior Princess, from “Breakfast at Tiffanies” to “American Idol”, how iconic dress styles hardly ever change yet never stay the same.


Karen S. June 26, 2012 at 6:48 pm

The Hundred Dresses; Fashion and the World it Lives in
The Hundred Dresses; Iconic Styles Across the Years
The Hundred Dresses; How Fashion Shapes History and Vise Versa
The Hundred Dresses; or Why You Need a Bigger Closet


Joni June 26, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Love that last one!


Kathleen June 26, 2012 at 7:19 pm

100 Reasons to Wear a Dress Every Day


susanjc June 26, 2012 at 8:31 pm

The One Hundred Dreeses
The forms, the styles, and the little details of our age


Sunny June 26, 2012 at 8:33 pm

I think you already have the subtitle yourself..
“and how and why to wear them” but the “the” on the title needs to be bold, stand out make the statement of “THE” hundred dresses.


Dawn June 26, 2012 at 8:40 pm

“and their women”
(given your dresses are often given a life of their own)


Heather June 26, 2012 at 8:44 pm

The frocks that rocked our times
A look into the mirror that reflects our times
The dresses that were successes
Clothes that express, repress and transgress


Monabel June 27, 2012 at 1:34 am

“Express, repress & transgress” is very good. And reminds me that women are not the only people who wear dresses…


Kelsea June 26, 2012 at 9:30 pm

The Hundred Dresses:
The Modern History/encyclopedia of Woman’s Wear
Who They Are and What They Have to Say
Or, the Dance of Fashion and History


Joelle June 26, 2012 at 9:58 pm

The Hundred Dresses:
…Timeless classics in our closets
…Iconic styles for work and play
…What to wear for espionage, play dates, and everything in between


beate June 26, 2012 at 10:10 pm

it´s “Hindenburg” – not …berg ! tss


Erin June 26, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Thank you! Title help *and* proofreading! :-)


Diane June 27, 2012 at 12:45 am

The Hundred Dresses …
and how they wore


Dorothy Jo June 27, 2012 at 1:35 am

One Hundred Dresses: the good, the bad, and the just plain hideous


Lisa Laree June 27, 2012 at 1:43 am

I’m not reading through all the comments to see if anyone has already suggested this…I hope not… 😉
The Hundred Dresses that Dress the World

Not exactly a subtitle, I know…


Judyth June 27, 2012 at 1:53 am

The Hundred Dresses – Striking Fashions of Our Age


Jamie June 27, 2012 at 3:13 am

The Hundred Dresses
and How They Changed My Life

I like that title because it’s true! You are all about Dresses! I love it and your blog. I also like it because it’s a personal touch and it would make me want to pick up the book to see them and read why!


Susan June 27, 2012 at 3:43 am

The Hundred Dress: Archetypes of Couture

I am so excited you have a new book coming out. Gives me something to look forward to. X


Nicole June 27, 2012 at 4:22 am

Hi, how about , The Hundred Dresses and The Tales They Tell ?


Marie June 27, 2012 at 5:22 am

The Hundred Dresses: Icons of Style that Belong in Your Wardrobe


The Hundred Dresses: How to Wear [the] Icons of Style


dan bloom June 27, 2012 at 9:52 am

Wo, fantastic, Erin, BRAVO. i didn’t know about your interest in dresses until I wordnikked you today re scare quotes. Good luck with the book launch in 2013. BLOOMSbury is of course a BLOOM-endorsed publisher, and i say this as Leopold and Molly’s long lost Bloom in Taiwan! Mayor Bloomberg would approve to. BTW, question, since i have been outta the USa for 20 years, you begin your post with “So…..

Is this use of SO a new thing. I never said this before and still don’t. When did this SO thing start becoming and popular? I hate it. SIGH


danny bloom, 1949-2032


Sylvia June 27, 2012 at 10:27 am

The Hundred Dresses: Trend leader, trend follower, and get out of the way!

The Hundred Dresses: You need more coathangers

The Hundred Dresses: One For Each of Your Personalities!


Katherine June 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm

The Hundred Dresses . . . From Fantasy to Pop Culture

that’s all i can come up with :/


bb June 28, 2012 at 3:16 am

What you said was good;
“the most iconic dress styles of our age”

How about;
“iconic styles that shaped our age”
“fabric, fashion, and fantasy” or
“form, fashion, and fantasy”
“defining shapes of history”


Tara June 28, 2012 at 5:27 am

Oh, you need what an old lit professor of mine used to call the post-colonic surge! Hmm, any of these work?

The Hundred Dresses:
A Walk through 20th Century Womanhood
The Wardrobe of Womanhood
A Guide to the Silhouettes that Shaped Our Time


Kelly June 28, 2012 at 6:00 am

Perhaps a bit cryptic, but I’ll throw it out there…
The Hundred Dresses: Who, What, Where, When, and Why

Best of luck with the search!


rbjaneite June 28, 2012 at 6:43 am

My 2p worth – “The Modes and their Models” (or “The Modes and the Models”. I don’t know which I prefer). It sounds like a great read, anyway, whatever you end up subtitling it!


CJ June 28, 2012 at 10:09 am

The Hundred Dresses: Styles That Shaped the Icons


homewerk June 28, 2012 at 4:39 pm

For when a camel toe just won’t do


Miss Dede Lou June 28, 2012 at 8:58 pm

hiya a wee bit late but i thought id get my thoughts in!

The 100 Dresses – Their out of the closet now
The 100 Dresses – The Secret Closet of an Icon/ The Secret Closet to Make an Icon/ The Secret of the Icon’s
or maybe you could miss out the secret as they werent the best kept secret in history!


Natasha25461 June 28, 2012 at 9:47 pm

100 Dresses: The Good, The Bad, and the Frilly
The Hundred Dresses: dresses that changed how we look at women
The Hundred Dresses: A Walk through the last century
The Hundred Dresses: What we wore, and why we wore them
The Hundred Dresses: A look at femininity through the last century
The Hundred Dresses: Aren’t You Glad You’re A Woman


Cal June 29, 2012 at 3:46 am

The Hundred Dresses: From Guinevere to Jennifer and every dress in between.


silver June 29, 2012 at 6:01 am

The Hundred Dresses
– fashioning society

or The Hundred Dresses
– shaping the fabric of society


Jenny June 29, 2012 at 9:24 am

I know I am really late to the party, but how about:

A Hundred Dresses,
A Thousand Ways to Wear them


JayBee June 29, 2012 at 11:42 am

How about being totally self-referential?

The Hundred Dresses: Weird to Wonderful


Amy June 29, 2012 at 8:00 pm

How about:

The Hundred Dresses: From A-line to Vreeland
The Hundred Dresses and the thousands of stories they tell
The Hundred Dresses: Not (just) your grandmother’s fashion
The Hundred Dresses: From Barely There to Ballroom
The Hundred Dresses: Our wardrobes, Ourselves


teresa June 30, 2012 at 12:22 am

Erin….no suggestions for the subtitle but wanted to de-lurk to say many congrats and I’m looking forward to reading with pleasure!


teresa June 30, 2012 at 12:39 am

Okay, so I will suggest a subtitle…Not Eleanor Estes Hundred Dresses…as in Not your grandma’s sewing circle…..but maybe I’m dating myself too much with that reference.


Gina June 30, 2012 at 12:59 am

Here today, gown tomorrow!


Bronwyn July 1, 2012 at 2:36 am

He he!


Jennifer June 30, 2012 at 5:58 am

The Hundred Dresses: Clothes that Made the Age


Bronwyn July 1, 2012 at 2:34 am

Buildign on the inspiration of others:
The Hundred Dresses: A walk through the wardrobe of time.
The Hundred Dresses: A walk though the wardrobe of history.
Good luck with the book!


Carahe July 1, 2012 at 3:54 am

The Hundred Dresses: Adventures in Arresting Apparel


Sara July 1, 2012 at 5:15 am

The Hundred Dresses: And Why They Matter

The Hundred Dresses: And How to Pick the Perfect One for You

The Hundred Dresses: And Why you Need at least One in Your Wardrobe Now


Lisa July 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm

The 100 Dresses
Fashionable moments, from culture to couture


Colleen July 1, 2012 at 7:30 pm

I posed this problem to my husband and he came up with a good one: Unforgetable looks for an Unforgetable You


Colleen July 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Or Unforgetable Fashions for an Unforgetable You (his latest iteration).


Erica July 1, 2012 at 9:26 pm

The 100 Dresses
that women love to wear


Elizabeth July 2, 2012 at 8:32 pm

The Hundred Dresses
Loved Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

History that every women can/should wear.

History you can/should wear

Iconic dresses form the past for women today.


Katana July 3, 2012 at 1:06 am

The hundred dresses:
The Essential Iconic Dresses, Who They Are, and Why Women Wear Them


Maggie July 4, 2012 at 11:44 pm

I’m thinking Helen of Troy here…The Hundred Dresses that Launched a Thousand ….here’s where I lose it….maybe launched a thousand stitches or maybe The Hundred Dresses that Launched a Million Stitches….OK, that’s it….THE HUNDRED DRESSES THAT LAUNCED A MILLION STITCHES. Or something like that! Anyway, congrats on the new book, whatever it’s called.


Jane July 10, 2012 at 1:13 am

The Hundred Dresses: What [what] you wear says about you


Autumn July 12, 2012 at 8:29 pm


The Hundred Dresses: Profiles of Our Favorite Silhouettes



Sarah Smith July 14, 2012 at 2:43 am

Hey Erin, I haven’t got a subtitle suggestion. I have got a dress that’s not on your pinterest board though. What about Princess Diana’s wedding dress? It defined eighties dresses for those of us who lived then. Maybe she didn’t have as much impact in the USA as she did in Commonwealth countries. I suppose the local equivalent is the Ladies of Dallas.


Erin July 14, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Oh, that dress is definitely in the book! I don’t think I put up a picture, though — I will.


Vickie July 15, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I looked at the pinteest board & didn’t see the one my mom wore through the 50’s and 60’s: the shirtdress with the fitted bodice and gathered skirt. She sewed each one; always in a print. (The shirtdress I saw had a straight skirt.)

I love this concept and can’t wait for the book!


Erin July 15, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Thanks so much! I have that dress in the book as the “June Cleaver”. :-)


Mish Young July 18, 2012 at 11:32 am

I have no suggestions for your book title because you already have soo many good ones listed above!

I just wanted to say a HUGE THANK YOU for your last book – The Secret Lives of Dresses – I LOVED every page & would read it again & again; the book made me want to be Dora

Much love :) xxx


SewSavory July 22, 2012 at 10:36 pm

I just want to second Mish’s sentiment. I LOVE ‘The Secret Lives of Dresses’. Please write a follow up. I want to know more about Dora, but I REALLY want to know more about Meaux!

I’ll order a copy of The Hundred Dresses as soon as it is available.

Thanks, Kathy


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