clothes and other things that matter. A fashion memoir reviews by Duffythewriter

‘Alexandra Shulman’s style is unaffected, immediate and hilariously dry. She’s brilliant at observing everyday feelings in a joy-sparking turn of phrase.’ – Helena Bonham Carter

Part memoir, part fashion history, part social commentary, Alexandra Shulman explores the meaning of clothes and how we wear them.

Clothes… and other things that matter is a book not only about clothes but about the way we live our lives. From childhood onwards, the way we dress is a result of our personal history. In a mix of memoir, fashion history and social observation I am writing about the person our clothes allows us to be and sometimes the person they turn us into.’ – Alexandra Shulman

In Clothes… and other things that matter, Alexandra Shulman delves into her own life to look at the emotions, ambitions, expectations and meanings behind the way we dress. 

In 40 essays covering everything from the bra to the bikini, the trench coat to sneakers, the slip dress to the suit, she explores their meaning in women’s lives and how our wardrobes intersect with the larger world – the career ladder, motherhood, romance, sexual identity, ambition, failure, body image and celebrity.

By turns funny, refreshingly self-deprecating and often very moving, this startlingly honest memoir from the ex-Editor of British Vogue will encourage women of all ages to consider what their own clothes mean to them, the life they live in them and the stories they tell.

Published by Hachette

Duffy’s thoughts on Clothes and Other Things That Matter

This book kicked around for quite a while on my reading pile. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read about people with lots of money and flashy clothes whilst the world was in Corona chaos and the US… we’ll we all know what went on there.

When I took a staycation and decided to hit the beach, Clothes and Other Things That Matter was the chosen beach book, and I really enjoyed it!

Alexandra Shulman takes us through, in no particular order, a range of clothes that meant something to her in her life. Her first bra, the slouchy jumper worn to death in her teens, her first suit bought by her glamourous aunt. This may, on face value seem a bit shallow, to think about clothes as important milestones in life. However, it got me thinking about mine;

  • A pair of Clarks Princess shoes which had the jewel embedded in the crepe sole
  • A pair of red shoes that I had and danced to David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ for weeks on end, feeling every part a professional dancer. Up until one fateful day, I slipped my foot into the right shoe and came up against an angry earwig. The shoes were never worn again
  • A denim maxi skirt with an orange Buddha print on the front which I wore to music festivals and backpacking around Asia. The skirt is threadbare and I haven’t been able to fit into it in 10 years. Yet, it remains in my drawer, where I pull it out from time to time to remember some amazing memories.

Clothes and Other Things That Matter is a great read and ideal for holiday reading as you can dip in and out of chapters and flip through to items that may resonate with you. Alexandra Shulman is an excellent writer who has lived one hell of a life. If you are interested in fashion and looking for a holiday or staycation read. Put this on your reading list, you won’t be disappointed.

Check out Duffy’s other non-fiction recommendations here!