'A sensual and intellectual pleasure from start to finish' Deborah Levy
We are all dressed. But how often do we pause to think about the place of our clothes in our lives? What unconscious thoughts do we express when we dress every day? Can memories, meaning and ideas be wrapped up in a winter coat?
These are the questions that interest Shahidha Bari, as she explores the secret language of our clothes. Ranging freely through literature, art, film and philosophy, Dressed tracks the hidden power of clothes in our culture and our daily lives. From the depredations of violence and ageing to our longing for freedom, love and privacy, from the objectification of women to the crisis of masculinity, each garment exposes a fresh dilemma. Item by item, the story of ourselves unravels.
Evocative, enlightening and dazzlingly original, Dressed is not just about clothes as objects of fashion or as a means of self-expression. This is a book about the deepest philosophical questions of who we are, how we see ourselves and how we dress to face the world.
A deeply original, compelling thinker and a brilliant writer. Dressed is the finest philosophy of clothes since Tomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus in 1834. Bari’s writing is limpidly clear, informed by a rich literary knowledge, theoretically and historically informed, sensuous and deeply textured, like a piece of luxurious fabric. It is also funny. But make no mistake: this is a work of philosophy. It just happens to be about clothes.
Dressed is a feast of a book, a supreme example of the new kind of essay – exploratory, reflective, full of the personal energy of Shahidha Bari herself and also her wide knowledge.
[A] clever, subtle book… Although [Bari's] writing is critically informed…her tone is insistently personal, intimate even… Between her main chapters she drops in lyrical accounts of her own encounters with specific items of clothing… Bari wants us to think not so much about what clothes say as how they make us feel.
[There are] many delectable facts waiting to be discovered in Shahidha Bari’s Dressed… Dressed is irresistible when Bari riffs with extraordinary breadth and depth on the cultural meanings of the items she describes… I put Dressed down having been dazzled by Bari’s learning and insights... In the end, Dressed is an argument for taking apparently frivolous things seriously... More than this, though, Bari communicates the joy and powerful sense of interconnected humanity clothes can bring.”