Obsessed by Dress

Front Cover
Beacon Press, 2001 - Design - 176 pages
"Clothes, even when omitted, cannot be escaped."—Anne Hollander Self-adornment (or its stern refusal) has been an unquenchable human impulse in all eras and places. From the toga to the little black dress, Tobi Tobias considers no less than the entire history of the human struggle with fashion by juxtaposing observations from philosophers, writers, and designers-from Plato to Coco Chanel—so that the authors speak to each other about the power of fashion.

Oscar Wilde: "One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art."

Jane Austen: "Dress is at all times a frivolous distinction, and excessive solicitude about it often destroys its own aim."

From literature high and low, ancient and modern, Obsessed by Dress includes quotations from Dorothy Parker, Marcel Proust, Ru Paul, Mark Twain, Virgil, Virginia Woolf, and many others. Arranged with incomparable flair, these quotes both delight and challenge us to consider the role of clothes in our lives as they assert views about beauty, vanity, identity, and self-expression.

"Show me the clothes of a country and I can write its history."—Anatole France

"Only God helps the badly dressed." —Spanish proverb

"Probably every new and eagerly expected garment ever put on since clothes came in fell a trifle short of the wearer's expectation." —Charles Dickens

"Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes."—Henry David Thoreau

"Almost every man looks more so in a belted trench coat."—Sydney J. Harris

"Brevity is the soul of lingerie." —Dorothy Parker

"There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us and not we them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they would mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking."—Virginia Woolf
 

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Contents

the argument
13
fashion vs mind and character
48
cosmetics
68
the street
99
feminism and dress
125
dress as depravity
139
ball dress
145
animals in clothes
165
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About the author (2001)

Tobi Tobias is the intriguingly dressed dance critic for New York magazine. Her essays on fashion and related "food for the eyeo/oo have appeared in New York, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and Dance Ink. She is the author of over two dozen books for children, most recently A World of Words and Serendipity.

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