How To Get Dressed by Alison Freer

How To Get Dressed was a book I was sure I was going to love – and within the first few pages, I absolutely adored the author and her fresh, quirky voice. But while she is friendly and knowledgeable, the information provided is not very useable, there are precious few graphics to understand the concepts, and a lot isn’t well thought out. As well, the tips sound great until you actually try to apply them in real life – and then it becomes obvious that much more information was needed than given. With so many other parts ending up as pure fluffy needless filler, I got very little out of the book despite there being so much potential from a great source.

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The book breaks down as follows: 1 Movie Magic: Or Why Movie Stars Look Like Movie Stars; 2 Fit: The True Enemy of Great Style; 3 Alter Your Clothes, Alter Your Life; 4 Be Your Own Costume Designer; 5 Dumb Fashion Rules That Were Made For Breaking; 6 Wardrobe Tools To Keep Your Look Together; 7 Dressing For Success is Dead; 8 Closet Hacks: Store Your Clothes Like Wardrobe Girls do; 9 Underthings: You Really Only Need a Few; 10 Laundry: You’re Doing It Wrong; 11 Shoe Care: For All Your Footwear; 12 Old Stuff: A Guide to Shopping Vintage and Thrift; 13 Dudes: This One’s For you; Glossary; Fabric Care Glossary.

The book is mostly tips – from taking the time to make sure your garments fit your body correctly to washing your clothes. It sounds like a lot of wonderful advice – but so much of it distilled into nothing. E.g., The whole chapter 2 and chapter 3 (explaining fit and altering terms such as darts, altering seams, fixing lined garments, etc.) pretty much had one answer: get a tailor. At the end of reading those chapters, I had to ask why I had to troll through what a dart was or taking in a seam under a lining when there was no instruction on how to do so – just telling me to take it to a tailor. That’s 100 pages of nothing.

The book became even more problematic when it came to specific advice later on. I was excited when I read about the versatility of moleskin – I can fix the problem of wire bras and the wire poking through! But when I read the tip, it said to fix the moleskin to the bra and that the heat of the body will ‘fix’ the adhesive to make it last longer. Ok, WHAT adhesive should I use? Elmer’s? is there a fabric glue? Nowhere did she mention that (and I had to read twice to wonder if moleskin is sold with an adhesive side from stores – because it seemed that way from the way it was written). It seems silly, I know, but so much of the advice is like that. It’s not well thought out from the reader perspective and really could have used better proofing from actual novices before printing.

The worst part of the book is that there are only a few illustrations – for a book on appearance! I almost laughed when I got to the section discussing the different styles of the decades – they are just short descriptive paragraphs. No one is going to be a savvy thrift store shoppper from that or any of the other descriptions – would it have been so difficult to do something as simple as silhouettes showing the different era styles? As well, the sections about the different type of dresses, skirts, bras, etc. do not have any graphics at all. We only have a few loose illustrations – that get reused over and over throughout the book. I’m not quite sure how useful Rayban type classes are for the discussions but you’ll get to see them in the book often!

So there’s no real information about how to dress yourself for your particular body style. We are given anecdotes about how the teen daughter of a movie star had bra issues because of a large bosom – fixed by a minimizer bra. That’s nice – not very helpful to anyone else.  Before and after pictures would have made this book amazing – showing how the right clothing can make a person look more-put-together or subconsciously slovenly. After all, we are all our worst judges when it comes to judging how best to dress ourselves (why else would we buy this book?). Even better – how about tips on patterns and stripes (beyond a useless page full of text about how stripes are not a faux pas).

Sadly, the book ended up being a fail for me on so many levels. The tips weren’t all that useable, the clothing types and descriptions were both too much (fluff) yet not enough to be efficacious, the book had only a few illustrations (with the same 3-4 used over and over again to fill space), and the text just wasn’t well thought out about what it wanted to be – and what it could do for readers.  Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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2 Responses to How To Get Dressed by Alison Freer

  1. Jodie says:

    Although posted a while ago, I found your review really interesting as I read a lot of this genre of book. I’d be keen to know if you’ve read anything similar that you found to be better….? I’ve waded through quite a few similar disappointments as yours! 🙂

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