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Saddle shoes. Camp shorts. Girdles. Bell-bottoms. Each plays a significant role as we follow B., the wardrobe's owner, through her buttoned-up Midwestern childhood to the freedom of miniskirts, sundresses, and New York City. We watch as B. copes with the untimely death of her mother, makes a go of glamorous magazine work, and, after the inevitable false starts and fashion missteps, finally comes into her own.
Part memoir, part fashion and cultural history of the last five decades, Autobiography of a Wardrobe is an exploration of the clothes each generation has embraced and the smallest details in which we are able to seek comfort and meaning.
"Wonderfully original.... A highly relatable account of body image, feminism, and fashion." —Vogue
“Belongs on every nightstand.” —Vanity Fair
“A great history of women in the 20th-century. . . . Amazing.” —Slate
"Nutty and delightful." —The Boston Globe
“Brilliant. . . . One turns these pages with anticipation and pleasure.” —The New York Sun
“Powerful. . . . [It's] impossible not to remember your own clothes-what you wore, and where, and when.” —The New York Observer
"This is a book to devour with great pleasure, as it brings back our own reactions to youth's wardrobe: saddle shoe lust and, for me, in Brooklyn rather than in the Midwest, a decade earlier, bobby socks and penny loafers. But the passion is the same in every period: no one has gotten at the intense importance of these issues in the feminine bildungsroman. Kendall has given us something wonderful."
—Linda Nochlin, author of Bather, Bodies, Beauty
"A writer of deep and delicious gifts, Elizabeth Kendall now gives us a subtle, original riff on the clothes we wear. Clothes may not make the man or woman, but they certainly make this book. It is at once whimsical and profound." —Catharine Stimpson, University Professor and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science, New York University