5.01.2015

A Fashion Book Review: Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible {Fashion as Literature 101}


I've always found the history of apparel and fashion fascinating. For a world history class paper in tenth grade I chose the topic of medieval vs. renaissance fashion; for a french class paper the next year I wrote a paper about Christian Dior's "new look". While growing up my favorite part of the American Girl catalog was the historical costumes each girl wore, and you know my favorite part of visiting the Smithsonian was the First Ladies Inagural gown exhibit. :)

Even as an adult you will find me wandering to the fashion section at my local library - sometimes even with my toddlers in tow! Like most fashion lovers, I'm a huge fan of Tim Gunn, so of course when I saw "Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible: the Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet" at the library I had to bring it home with me.

If you're not sure who Tim Gunn is, you most likely know him from his role on Project Runway and his famous lines "Make it work!" and "Thank you Mood!"



Remember him now?

And you know, it some ways, it was kinda like the bible! Gunn divided the book into chapters such as "T-Shirts: From Underwear to Everywhere" and "Capri Pants and Shorts: The Plague on Our Nation", and, like the bible, some chapters are long, and some are short. Some spoke to me more than others. Some parts were a little dry (have you ever read Numbers from the Old Testament?) and some were filled with juicy stories and gossip (Genesis is the original soap opera to me). There are practical "how to wear ____" sections throughout the book, but it mostly focuses on the historical evolution of today's most prevalent fashions.

Speaking of fashions - one of my favorite paragraphs in the whole book was from his introduction where he addresses critics who prefer the term "style" over "fashion".

"I love the word "fashion." That's why I'm using it in the title of this book. Fashion is about change and about creating clothes within a historical context. To me, dismissing fashion as silly or unimportant seems like a denial of history and frequently a show of sexism--as if something that's traditionally a concern of women isn't valid as a field of academic inquiry."

I think Gunn really hit the nail on the head. Fashion has always been my passion (see above) but I know many do see it as unimportant or even irrelevant. But Tim Gunn shares my views on the subject. This won't apply to all readers, of course, but I found myself nodding along while reading. Gunn and I seem to share the same views on faux fur (we are for it!), cargo capris for women, and how what we wear is what we project to the world. When I read this next gem, I wanted to frame it and put it on the wall (I still might...)

"I've found that many people are afraid of taking a hard look at what's in their closets, because fashion is scary to many people. It shouldn't be. Fashion is fun and thrilling--andit's something that concerns everyone who gets dressed in the morning, not just an elite crew in Manhattan."

History books can often be dry but this book is full of fun and interesting tidbits about fashion history - and nearly every page features full-color photos of famous moments in fashion history (think Madonna's cone bra and Marky Mark's underwear ad in the underwear chapter and Jennifer Lopez's infamous belly-baring dress in the dress chapter). I loved reading so many of Tim's personal anecdotes--he has had such an interesting career!

To sum it up--I loved the book. While it's not exactly a thrilling page-turner or a great beach read, I think any fashion fan would enjoy sitting down with this book.  Sitting down and reading a chapter or two would be a great way to relax at the end of the day so I think it makes the perfect coffee table book or a wonderful gift for the fashion-obsessed person in your life.


Cost: $16.00 (paperback) $12.00 (kindle) or Free (request it if your library doesn't carry it)

You'll like it if: You like fashion and find history interesting, and if you like Tim Gunn!

Pass on it if: You only read fiction books or really really like your cargo capri pants.

Pick one up at: Amazon, your local bookstore or your local library.

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